IT seems entirely typical of British nationalists that they should complain quite disgracefully about the name of the temporary hospital being established at the SEC in Glasgow.

Naming the hospital after Louisa Jordan, a nursing sister who died while serving in Serbia in the First World War, was in no way an insult to Florence Nightingale, but is a proper tribute to a courageous Scottish nurse by a health service which, lest we forget, is entirely devolved to Scotland’s Parliament and Government.

Next month will see the bicentenary of the birth of Nightingale. While the celebrations of this great woman’s life and career will be understandably muted because of the coronavirus pandemic, nevertheless she will be given the praise she deserves. So it seems to me that allowing a little bit of a tribute for a Scottish nurse is neither a slight to Nightingale or a threat to the Britnats’ precious Union. And just to show how history needs to be recorded as factual and unbiased, next month I will write about Nightingale’s strong connections to Scotland and Scottish medical people.

As it happens, as I sat down to write this column, The National received the following missive from Robert Mitchell, of Woodside of Balhaldie, Braco, Dunblane: “With reference to the new temporary hospital being named ‘Louisa Jordan’ after a Scottish nurse who worked and died in Serbia in 1915, my second cousin several times removed, Elizabeth Ness McBean Ross, was a doctor who also served in Serbia and died in this epidemic. I believe these medics are still revered in Serbia a century later. To me it seems fitting that this hospital should be named after a Scottish nurse who gave her life for others in a foreign country.”

I could not agree more. I thank Robert greatly for his information, and I will show how Dr Ross was sadly all too involved in Louisa’s remarkable story. I am indebted mainly to and Dr Yvonne McEwan of Edinburgh University for much of Louisa Jordan’s story.

She was born on July 24, 1878, at 279 Gairbraid Street, Maryhill, in Glasgow. Louisa was the only daughter of Henry Jordan, a white lead and paint mixer, and his wife Helen. They had two other children, Louisa’s brothers David and Thomas.

Louisa had worked as a mantle maker before qualifying as a nurse. She had spells at Quarrier’s Homes in Renfrewshire and a poor law hospital, Crumpsall Infirmary in Manchester, and also at Shotts Fever Hospital in Lanarkshire. She also worked in Edinburgh before being appointed district nurse for Buckhaven in Fife.

At the outbreak of the First World War, medical pioneer Dr Elsie Inglis volunteered the services of women doctors and nurses to the War Ministry via an organisation she founded that was called the Scottish Women’s Hospital for Foreign Services (SWH). She was less than politely told no thanks, so Dr Inglis made the same offer to the French and Belgian Red Cross who accepted it – their first hospital was in France at Royaumont, and it led to other field hospitals including a unit in Serbia.

Louisa volunteered for the SWH in December 1914 and was assigned to the Serbian hospital in Kragujevac, the fourth largest city in Serbia some 60 miles south of the capital Belgrade.

The first weeks of 1915 were spent in ensuring that the hospital had all the necessary facilities. Other doctors, nurses and orderlies included Dr Elizabeth Ross and Madge Fraser, the former captain of the Scottish Ladies Golf team.

Casualties began to arrive as the Serbian army pushed back against the Austro-Hungarian invading forces – they had recaptured Belgrade on December 15, 1914, and spent the early part of 1915 mopping up the invading forces who would return and conquer Serbia later that year. Another deadly enemy was rife in Serbia – typhus.

Louisa wrote in her diary “we are quite a happy family” but typhus flourishes in winter and soon the contagion was rampaging through Serbia – the disease eventually killed more people than the Austro-Hungarian and German forces, who had caused 170,000 casualties in the Serbian army.

The SWH started up a typhus ward and Louisa Jordan was put in charge, most probably due to her experience of working at Shotts Fever Hospital. Also working there was Dr Elizabeth Ross, as stated by Robert Mitchell. She was not with the SWH but had travelled to Serbia to offer her services.

The Scottish women went to work and many Serbs owed their lives to their devoted care. Yet their toil was having a deadly price as the Scottish women and other Serbian staff began to succumb to typhus. Louisa wrote in her diary “hardly a day passes but there are one or two funerals here”.

Elizabeth Ross was one of the first to contract typhus and Louisa volunteered to nurse her despite the risks to her own life. It was to no avail – Dr Ross died on February 14, 1915.

Louisa recorded in her diary: “We really felt we had lost one of our own.”

She did not long outlive Dr Ross. Louisa became infected and died of typhus on March 6, 1915.

The British Nursing Journal for March, 1915, recorded her passing thus: “Miss Louisa Jordan, who went out to Serbia with the Scottish Women’s Hospital, has, we regret to say, succumbed to typhus fever at Kragujevatz.

“Miss Jordan, who was trained and subsequently held the position of Sister at the Crumpsall Infirmary, Manchester, volunteered to nurse Dr Ross when she was struck down by typhus, and so contracted it herself.”

She was just 36. Madge Fraser also died of typhus around the same time, as did two other SWH women, Bessie Sutherland and Augusta Minhull.

Louisa Jordan is buried in Chela Kula Military Cemetery, where every year there is a ceremony to commemorate her and the other Scottish women who served and died in Serbia.

Her name is commemorated at Wilton Church in Glasgow and on the Buckhaven War Memorial, and now, quite rightly, at the new temporary hospital in Glasgow.

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