November 22, 2014, was a proud day for IES Abroad London, and the Center’s Academic Advisor and longtime faculty member Dr. Diane (Di) Atkinson.
Dr. Atkinson, who teaches From Aphra Behn to the 'Blitz:' 300 Years of London Women's Social History in the Study London Program, has a special interest in the role women played during the First World War. In 2009, she authored Elsie and Mairi Go To War: Two Extraordinary Women on the Western Front.
Regarded as “The Angels of Pervyse,” Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm were British humanitarians who set up an emergency aid station in Pervyse, Belgium, on November 22, 1914, at the height of World War I. They were the only two women to work on the Western Front.
Posted just a hundred yards from the German trenches, they risked their lives tending to wounded soldiers before sending them to military hospitals for additional care.
Dr. Atkinson, along with Stefaan Vandenbussche, an employee of the CD&V group in the Flemish Parliament who regularly lectures on women in the Great War, began raising money for a tribute to Elsie and Mairi in 2013. IES Abroad also contributed to the project.
On the 100th anniversary of Elsie and Mairi’s arrival in Belgium, a life-size bronze memorial was unveiled, depicting the women with their dog, Shot. Created by Belgian sculptor Josiane Vanhoutte, the sculpture can be found in Ieper, Belgium, in the garden at the Ariane Hotel.