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Dorothea and Betty

CWGC Reveals Sacrifice of Women in the Great War

26 November 2013

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is combining smartphone technology with traditional interpretive techniques to reveal the lesser known contribution and sacrifice of women during the First World War.

More than 650 women who died during the war are commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission worldwide.  Two of their stories - that of Nursing Sister Dorothea Crewdson and YMCA volunteer Bertha 'Betty' Stevenson - will be revealed on 28 November when the Commission installs a new Visitor Information Panel at Etaples Military Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in France.

Click here to access the stories of Sister Dorothea Crewdson and Bertha 'Betty' Stevenson

Dorothea Crewdson served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse and was transferred to Etaples in 1915. In the summer of 1918, Etaples was attacked by German aircraft. Dorothea was injured but refused treatment so that she could continue to care for her patients - an action which earned her the Military Medal. She died in 1919 after contracting peritonitis.

In April 1917, Betty Stevenson was posted to Etaples as a YMCA driver, responsible for transporting relatives from England visiting the wounded in hospital. Betty was killed by an air raid in 1918 while assisting French refugees. She was given a military funeral and was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme by General Petain, for courage and devotion to duty.

The Quick Response (QR) code on this panel - the 100th to be installed at a Commission cemetery - details the links between Etaples and some of the most important literary figures of the war, including war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and novelists CS Lewis and Vera Brittain.

The installation of the 100th panel is part of a global initiative to provide more information to the public during the Centenary of the First World War. It is designed to engage new generations in the sacrifices made by servicemen and women by the use of QR codes, which when scanned with a smartphone, reveal the personal stories of some of the casualties buried or commemorated at that location.

Claire Douglas, the Commission's 1914-18 Production Coordinator, said: "The Commonwealth War Graves Commission believes this initiative will help bring home to all of us the great sacrifice made by servicemen and women in two world wars. It is a powerful way to combine traditional forms of remembrance, with new technology, to ensure we never forget."

Click here to read the full Media Release