Elsie and Mairi - 'The Madonnas of Pervyse'

Elsie and Mairi - 'The Madonnas of Pervyse'

Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm met at a motorcycle club in Autumn 1913. When the war broke out the friends decided to 'do their bit' and so joined Munro's Flying Ambulance Corps. They spent most of their time driving the wounded to hospital, often in terrible conditions and under fire. They drove from the front line to the hospital. These soldiers were usually badly wounded and doctors at the hospital often carried out over 100 amputations a day. Due to unrest amongst Munro's Corps, Elsie and Mairi decided to set up their own emergency treatment station in Pervyse, north of Ypres, in December 1914. They set up their station just 50 yards from the front line, close to the point of wounding, and therefore giving themselves a chance to capitalise on the 'golden hour' when treating casualties. The station was in constant danger from shelling so they carried out their nursing in the cellar. They also lived there in the adjoining room to the wounded soldiers.


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  • Profile picture for Mairi Lambert Gooden-Chisholm

    Born 1896

    Died 1981

    Other Empire Force British Red Cross Society and Order of Saint John of Jerusalem

  • Profile picture for Elizabeth Blackall Knocker

    Born 1884

    Died 1978

    Other Empire Force British Red Cross Society