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Elsie and Mairi Go To War: Two Extraordinary Women on the Western Front

Start date25 September 2014 19:30
End date 25 September 2014 20:45
CategoryExhibitions and talks; First World War commemoration; Libraries

Elsie and Mairi go to war - book jacket


Dorking Library on Thursday 25 September, at 7.30pm

General information

On 25 September 1914 Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm travelled to Belgium by motorbike to volunteer for the Women’s Emergency Corps. Within weeks they were in the thick of battle, retrieving fallen soldiers and driving the wounded to field hospitals. They stayed in Belgium until 1918, enduring and witnessing the horrors of war but also enjoying the camaraderie that can only be found on the battlefield.

They were awarded gallantry medals by King Albert of Belgium – something they toasted with Horlicks. One hundred years to the day of their departure, Dr Diane Atkinson will talk about the heroism of these neglected heroines and explain what happened to the two women both during and after the war.

Elsie and Mairi go to war : two extraordinary women on the Western Front by Diane Atkinson

Diane Atkinson

Diane is campaigning for official recognition of their contribution and is raising money for a life-size bronze sculpture of the two women to be erected in Pervyse, the Belgian village where Elsie and Mairi cared for so many wounded soldiers.

This event is part of Surrey Libraries' War and Words programme of commemorative events for the First World War Centenary

Diane is also the author of The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Caroline Norton, detailing the life of the Victorian feminist and legislator. She completed a Ph.D thesis on the politics of women’s sweated labour and has written two books about the suffragette movement.


Mole Valley Arts Alive logo


Tickets, including refreshments, £5 until 31 August, thereafter £6. Book online using debit or credit cards.

Telephone credit/debit cards bookings on 01483 543599 SMS : 07968 832414 A small handling charge may apply.

Tickets can also be bought in person from any Surrey Library.

This event is part of the 2014 Mole Valley Arts Alive Festival.


First World War Centenary logo

Page information

  • Updated: 21 May 2014
  • Kay Hadwick
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