There’s a Long Long Trail A-Winding (part 2)

Alongside Ethel Moir’s two handwritten diaries from her time serving as a Scottish Women’s Hospital nursing orderly, there is also a photo album full of black and white images. Some of the photographs were presumably taken by Ethel herself, each one telling its own story.

The handwritten title page reads simply:

“Scottish Women’s Hospital”

Dr Elsie Inglis’ Serbian – Russian Unit

Rumania – Russia

August 1916 – April 1917

(and in the corner) E. M. Moir S.W.H

All the photos and cuttings have written descriptions, the very first is of “The Chief” Dr. M. Elsie Inglis. There is no doubt that this is what Ethel and her fellow SWH colleagues thought of her. In another, Dr. Inglis is surrounded by a group of nurses and orderlies and pride of place in the middle of the group is one of the camp’s pet dogs!

 Dr Elsie Inglis & "some of us"

Dr Elsie Inglis & “some of us”

Turning over the pages, we scrutinised each photo, hoping to find a photo of Ethel. We had been doing so much research into her story and background; we now really wanted to see what she looked like. Unfortunately as with most photographers, they seldom, if ever feature in any….oh for the advent of selfies!

It would only be much later, that we discovered what this woman, looked like. We had found a couple of photos in one of the diaries, but none that were really clear. It was only when Ethel’s great-niece Maureen handed in the photos she had found, there among them some ten odd years after her time with the SWH, was Ethel smiling happily at the camera.

Murphy, Fawcett & camp followers

Murphy, Fawcett & camp followers

The first few pages are taken up with photos of the journey to Russia, group photos taken on board the troopship all posing together at the start of their long journey. Others in the camp introduce us to her fellow “campers”. There’s “Murphy” and “Fawcett” holding aloft two dogs that they had presumably adopted, another showing a more serious task, kit inspection, everyone lined up alongside their meagre belongings.

Market day- Izmail

Market day- Izmail

Some of the photos in the album could have been taken by a tourist. They show a market day where children sit in among piles of vegetables for sale, others the true reality of war. Halfway through the album there are some photographs of history in the making, taken in Odessa, they show the first days of the Russian Revolution, with troops piled on the roofs of trains and marching through the city, rifles and bayonets at the ready.

Revolutionary soldiers

Revolutionary soldiers marching through Odessa

These were all memories that Ethel brought back home to Scotland with her and carefully pasted into the album, perhaps to take out and look at now and again.

You can see all the pictures from Ethel’s scrapbook on Capital Collections.

Read the other posts in this series about Ethel Moir and the Scottish Women’s Hospital:

There’s a Long Long Trail A-Winding (part 1)

There’s a Long Long Trail A-Winding (part 3)

Our search for Ethel (part 4)

Scottish Women’s Hospitals (part 5)

2 thoughts on “There’s a Long Long Trail A-Winding (part 2)

  1. My grandmother Sheila Macbeth (later Mitchell, and Edinburgh resident) left me her bulging WW1 scrapbook- she was a nurse on HMHS Britannic which was sunk in the Aegean in 1916, and later in Athens and in France. There’s a centenary commemoration of the sinking in Kea in September, (some of her photos are there) which I’ll be taking the scrapbook to. If Capital Collections would be interested in seeing this sometime and copying pictures to add to the special collection, get in touch- I live just round the corner!


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