Aged just eighteen years-of-age, Mairi Chisholm was one half of the two most photographed women of World War One.
Mad keen on motor-cycling, she met Elsie Knocker (30) at various motorbike competitions around the country. Following the declaration of war on August 4th, 1914, Elsie suggested to Mairi that they join the Women’s Emergency Corps.
After spending the first month of the war as dispatch riders in London, they were asked to join the newly formed Flying Ambulance Corps assisting wounded Belgian soldiers. Mairi and Elsie landed in Belgium on September 25th, 1914 where their first job was ferrying casualties to a military hospital in Ghent.
In November, they moved to Pervyse and spent the next three and a half years only 100 yards from the front line, performing first aid, transferring the wounded to hospital and retrieving bodies from No Man’s Land, from a cellar only six feet high. They funded this work themselves and often had to return to the UK to raise money. Their work only ended on 17th March, 1918 when they were both almost killed in a gas attack.
Mairi Chisholm died in Scotland in 1981 aged 85.
Their full story has been told in the books Elsie and Mairi Go To War and, The Cellar House of Pervyse.