A Perth woman who was awarded the Red Cross for her work as a nurse during the First World War is to have her story told by her great-nephew in a talk later this month.
Edith Drummond-Hay, who was born in 1872, lived most of her life in a small estate just outside of Perth, but when war broke out in 1914, she saw a chance to do her duty and started training as a nurse.
The Perthshire girl was born as the youngest of seven children, and grew up at her family’s home on the banks of the River Tay.
She was a keen artist, and throughout her youth she would draw pictures and cartoons of her and her family’s adventures in Europe, as well as events which happened in her life at home.
Following her brother’s marriage, Edith and her sisters were forced out of their family home and chose to move into a new house together in Glencarse.
After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Edith enlisted in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), and began training as a nurse in Perth.
She learned nursing in her hometown for two years before being sent to Fort William for additional training.
In Easter of 1917 she was sent to France to care for soldiers on the front line. She spent time nursing at multiple hospitals on the Western Front before moving to a town called Albert, which was devastated by the Battle of the Somme.
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Edith tended to soldiers who were injured in the battles on the front, using the skills she had learned in her training.
During the war she drew pictures of her experiences, such as air raids and being shelled. Her work has been found over 100 years later by her nephew, Peter Drummond-Hay.
He said: “She was almost a cartoonist. There’s speech bubbles in her drawings to show what people are saying and there’s a lot of humour.
“She makes herself the butt of the joke in a lot of her work, the humour is often directed at her. She often depicted herself as quite scatty with big glasses.”
Edith’s work also includes drawings of famous places from the war, such as Vimy Ridge and the Somme.
The artist turned nurse returned from France in May 1919 and was invited to Buckingham Palace, where she met with the king and queen and was awarded the Red Cross for her work during the war.
Edith lived the rest of her life in Perth and, while she never got married or had children, she was surrounded by her huge family and their children.
She died in 1960 at the age of 88.
Her great-nephew still lives in the home that she shared with her sisters
He said: “We still have the Red Cross that she was awarded to this day.
“It’s also possible that she knew the likes of Beatrix Potter, just along from where she lived at the time, but we can’t prove that.
“It’s also not clear if she was formally educated, or if her and her siblings were home schooled.
“I think it’s incredible that such an ordinary woman could have done something so extraordinary.”
Peter will discuss his great-aunt’s story and work in a talk at Glencarse Church on Tuesday February 25 at 7pm.