With the new temporary field hospital in Glasgow being named after Queen’s Nurse Louisa Jordan, we asked QNIS Fellow Alison O’Donnell to provide a little bit of history about the Scottish Women’s Hospital Service which took her to the frontline.
Queen’s Nurse, Sister Louisa Jordan (1878- 1915)
To prepare for the current pandemic crisis of the Coronavirus, the Scottish Government has taken steps to increase the bed capacity within existing hospitals and has also created additional capacity with the creation of a temporary hospital in Glasgow. This new medical facility is being created at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow. Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced on 1st April that the temporary hospital will be named after Sister Louisa Jordan who died on active service in Serbia in 1915. Louisa Jordan was a Queen’s Nurse (QN) serving with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service [SWH] from December 1914 until her death of typhus in Serbia on the 6th March 1915.
But what was the SWH and who was Queen’s Nurse Sister Louisa Jordan?
Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service
The Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service [SWHs] organisation was founded by Dr Elsie Maud Inglis (1864-1917) in 1914 at the start of the First World War.
With the outbreak of the war in August 1914, Inglis offered her services to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) at Edinburgh Castle and was famously told, ‘My good lady, go home and sit still’ (Leneman 1998 p34). She did not. She set about fundraising through her links with the Scottish Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies [SFWSS] and by October 1914, £1,000 had been raised for the first hospital in France. This was one of many which were to be established under the auspices of the SWHs.
Inglis initially approached the Belgian and French Red Cross authorities to offer help to treat the casualties of the escalating war, as the British establishment would not countenance her efforts until nearer the end of the war. Through the SFWSS, she had given lectures about the kind of help and hospitals she wanted to set up and asked for women volunteers to come and work with her, thus the Scottish Women’s Hospitals were formed.
Given the position of women in society at this time, these SWHs and casualty clearing stations were remarkable units as they were funded, organised, managed and staffed entirely by women.
All the administrators, nurses, surgeons, bacteriologists, cooks, engineers, drivers, orderlies and VADs were women working at the frontline from November 1917 until the end of the war.
Throughout the war, 14 medical units had been outfitted and sent to serve in France, Serbia, Malta, Salonika, Romania , Corsica and Russia. As hospitals, they were well regarded and many of the doctors, nurses and volunteers were awarded medals for their skills in caring for the wounded by the host countries after the end of the war.
Sister Louisa Jordan was one of the Queen’s Nurses who served with SWHs. She was posted to Serbia during the First Word War. Louisa was born in Kelvinside Avenue, Glasgow on the 24th July 1878. She trained in Crumpsall Infirmary, Manchester and then returned to Glasgow to work at Shotts Fever Hospital. Following her training, she then moved to live and work as a Queen’s Nurse in Buckhaven, Fife. She joined the SWH in December 1914, and went to work with the 1st Serbian unit arriving in Salonika late December 1914 – read more about her from the Scotland’s War project.
Louisa Jordan is to be honoured in her home city of Glasgow. Like many other QN’s, she served her community as a nurse at home and abroad with compassion and care. As one of the principles of QNIS is, ‘the pioneering of new services and co-operation with other agencies’, the NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital is a fitting tribute to this former QN, the legacy of other QNs and the wider contemporary caring community.
Dr Alison O’Donnell FQNIS
2nd April 2020
CROFTON, E., 2013. Angels of Mercy A Women’s Hospital on the Western Front 1914-1918. Edinburgh: Birlinn.
FITZROY, Y., McLAREN E.S., 2013. Scottish Nurses in the First World War With the Scottish Nurses in Roumania and A History of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. London: Leonaur.
JOZ-ROLLAND, I., 2009. Royaumont ….Si Loin des Landes écossaises. Roman: Paris.
LENEMAN, L., 1998. Elsie Inglis. Edinburgh: NMS.
QNIS., 2019. Newsletter and Review 2018. QNIS: Edinburgh.