Is Dorothy really the only one?

So in class, we mentioned that Dorothy Lawrence is the only woman proven to have participated on the front lines in WWI. As dubious as I am, I couldn’t believe it. So, I did some of my own research and found out about a couple more women who (may or may not have-I don’t have much proof) enlisted.

  1. Flora Sandes (1876-1956)

    Flora Sandes in uniform

    Sandes began as a St. John’s Ambulance volunteer and upon traveling to Serbia to provide aid, joined several different Serbian ambulance volunteers. During the retreat of Serbian forces through Albania (often referred to as the Great Retreat), all of her fellow ambulance staff were killed or deserted. No longer useful as one person, General Miloš Vasić enlisted Sandes as a private in the Serbian 3rd Army and she quickly advanced to Corporal and finally, Sergeant major. During her service, she received the highest decoration of the Serbian Military, the Order of the Karađorđe’s Star. In 1916, Sandes published an autobiography about her time in the war and titled it: An English Woman-Sergeant in the Serbian Army.   

  2. Maria Bochkarevka (1889-1920)

Maria Bochkareva and the Women’s Battalion of Death

In order to escape an abusive family and husband, Maria Bochkarevka wrote to Czar Nicholas II and petitioned the Siberian law disallowing women from service. The Czar granted her request to serve and Bochkarevka was sent to the front in 1915. In 1917, Bochkarevka began the Women’s Battalion of Death, an “an all-female combat unit designed to shame the male soldiers of the Russian Army into fighting harder.” In the summer offensive of the same year, the Women’s Battalion of Death went into battle and penetrated three trench lines. Later in life, she met a Russian journalist in New York and together the pair wrote her autobiography.

Link to a brief overview of Bochkarevka and Sandes

Link to a NY Times article about Bochkarevka

A really cool video about Bochkarevka done by the same channel we’ve been watching all semester:


A video about Flora Sandes:


Sapper Smith

I was doing some research on Dorothy Lawrence and found out that a short film was actually made about her life earlier this year by a group of London Goldsmiths Film students. 

It hasn’t been released to the public yet (I don’t think) but it was selected by the Edinburgh Independent Film Awards Festival for best student film!

They released a teaser trailer eleven days ago which I’ll insert below if you’re curious!

If you’re still curious, here are a couple of links to find out more about the film:

Link to their kickstarter where you can learn more about the film.

Link to the film’s facebook page.

Some Post-WWI Music About WWI

I found this interesting article that details some music written about WWI. You all can read yourselves, so I just hyperlinked the article (it’s like a one minute read and worth checking out), but I’ve compiled all the music into a Spotify playlist (plus I’ve added some of the more interesting music videos). Check it out!

ALSO: Because my ego is fragile and I like to think I have a good taste in music–this isn’t generally the music I like to listen to, but I think it’s important to hear these songs and see how other people interpret the Great War.

  • Pipe of Peace by Paul McCartney

  • On Battleship Hill by PJ Harvey

  •  Going Home by Randy Newman

(This isn’t a video…duh…but here’s a cool quote from Newman on the song).

“This is a World War I song. World War I fascinates me because it was such a shock to the world. Nothing before or since has come close. It was a horrible, horrible event. It was modern weaponry and cavalry and then tanks. They fought for four years over a hundred yards, some ridiculously small amount of ground.  It’s the stupidest event in history. This is one of those songs that I just can’t sing – it’s right in one of the cracks in my range. So we did it to approximate what a recording of that era would sound like. I know Mitchell’s going to get blamed in some review for using all these effects, but we did it because I simply can’t sing the thing.”

The long awaited Spotify playlist with all of the songs:


Has anyone seen the movie 9?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I don’t think it’s directly related to WWI but I can’t help but see some similarities.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the first half of the plot summary on IMDb:

In a world destroyed in a war between man and machine, a hand-stitched doll with the number 9 written on its back comes to life. The world he has awakened in is frightening, but he quickly learns that he is not alone and that there are others like him, also with a single digit written on their back.

Mostly, I’ve been thinking about this movie because it deals with the mechanization of war. WWI is so interesting to me because we have such of diversity of weapons at the disposal of either side of the war. There are machine guns and tanks, but at the same time, there are cannons and close-contact weaponry.

This might not have much to do with our class really at all, but if you watch the movie (it’s on Netflix) let me know if you see any other connections! I haven’t seen it in a while but just can’t seem to get it out of my head when we discuss WWI.

A trailer in case you’re interested:


I think (just generally) we look at war as this abstract thing that happens when in reality I don’t think it is. People send other people into war.

In class today, we repeated the question, “Is this enough?” Was it enough to offer up the coffee? Was it enough for the narrator to lie to the blind man? What is enough?

Focusing in so much on this question really got me thinking about the juxtaposition presented in the text that we all seemed to be missing. Yes, the narrator may have been offering some form of salvation to the man, but at the same time, the very nature of her job is to bandage the wounded and send them back into war. Fix them and send them to die. We’re faced with this huge dichotomy. How can we choose to see something as a sign of warmth and salvation, and shield ourselves from the inherent coldness presented?

Is the nurse’s actions a sign of humanity? Or does it just function as a way to even the playing field?

Further (and to relate this question to some of the other texts we’ve read this semester), it seems as though war literature forces us, as consumers of their messages, to view war un-abstractly. We saw this  in All Quiet with the suggestion of getting only the people in power to fight as well as in some of the other books we’ve read.

I guess my question is, were the nurses actions meant to restore this faith in humanity or was it intended as sarcasm? Are we meant to view war abstractly as an entity that just happens? Or not? Are we supposed to see war as inevitable? Or as something we have a hand in continuing? How much of a hand do we actually have in continuing war?


What are you all’s overall thoughts on Borden now that we finished The Forbidden Zone?

I was talking with Morgan a little about this and I’m curious to see what everyone else thinks.

Personally, I think I liked it. The book  evoked such a visceral reaction from me that often times I couldn’t tell whether I was angry or happy  just have gotten the chance to read  I text that made me feel so strongly.

Did anyone have any similar reactions?