Dans mon dernier billet de blog, j’ai présenté Ettie Rout, la femme remarquable de la Nouvelle-Zélande, qui a établi le New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood, une organisation qui a envoyé nos femmes en Egypte pour fournir les soins pour nos soldats. Là-bas, elle a découvert la prévalence de la maladie vénérienne parmi nos soldats et ensuite, elle a mené une campagne pour des mesures pour réduire ce taux élevé. Sa dévotion à nos soldats la fait une héroïne de guerre de la Nouvelle-Zélande.
I have undertaken to research a French woman alongside Ettie, whose involvement in WWI is also of interest and significance. I have chosen the French athlete, mountaineer, aviator and journalist Marie Marvingt. Born in 1875, just two years before Ettie, Marie spent her childhood in Metz, Germany. When her mother died in 1889, Marie was left in charge of her four brothers and sisters, at the mere age of 14. Her family moved to Nancy, France where she remained the rest of her life. Her father encouraged her to participate in a variety of sports, for which she soon discovered an immense talent. Marie quickly became a world-class athlete, receiving prizes in swimming, fencing, shooting, ski jumping, speed skating, luge and bobsledding. Between 1903 and 1910, Marie became the first woman to climb most of the peaks in the French and Swiss Alps, and in 1905 the first Frenchwoman to swim the length of the Seine through Paris. She became interested in aviation and received her pilot’s licence on 8 November 1910, becoming only the third Frenchwoman to be registered.
During World War I, Marie disguised herself as a man and served on the front lines as a Chasseur 2ième Classe in the 42ième Bataillon de Chasseurs à Pied. Despite being discovered and sent home, she later participated in military operations with the Italian 3ème Régiment de Chasseurs Alpins (3rd Regiment of Alpine Soldiers) in the Italian Dolomites at the direct request of Marshal Foch. She also served as a Red Cross nurse. She was not only the first Frenchwoman to succeed in a variety of sporting events, but the first woman in the worldto fly combat missions when she became a volunteer pilot flying bombing missions over German-held territory. For her aerial bombing of a German military base in Metz, she received the Croix de Guerre. Following World War I, she worked as a journalist, war correspondent, and medical officer with French forces in North Africa.
She spent the rest of her long life advocating the concept of aeromedical evacuation, giving more than 3000 conferences and seminars on the subject. Her accomplishments include being awarded the Medaille de la Paix du Maroc for establishing a civil air ambulance service in Morocco, becoming the first person certified as a Flight Nurse, writing and directing two documentary films about the history, development and use of air ambulances, and becoming a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur. She not only had an impact on WWI but also WWII. She recruited women pilots and nurses, her schemes capturing the imaginations of the women of her country which only escalated at the start of WWII. During this time, Marie also established a convalescent centre for wounded aviators and served as a surgical nurse. At the age of 79, Marie received the Deutsch de la Meurthe grand prize from the Fédération Nationale d'Aéronautique (French National Federation of Aeronautics) at the Sorbonne for her work in aviation medicine.
Marie died on 14 December 1963, at the ripe age of 88. She was known as “la fiancée du danger”. In France, there are streets, gymnasia, schools, flying clubs, scout groups, and an apartment complex named after her.
Marie Marvingt is clearly an exceedingly brilliant and courageous woman of her time, and serves as an example to all of us, and especially young women, to push past the limiting expectations on us from society and unleash our full potential onto the world. She and the New Zealander Ettie Rout are both striking examples of incredible women involved with WWI whose work may have been overlooked. In my personal inquiry, I will do further research on these two women and compare their stories. I will also compare how the social landscape of then and now, focusing on how strong and driven women such as Marie and Ettie would have been received in today’s world.
On a lighter note, I am overwhelmingly happy to have become friends with the wonderful Lucy, another Young Ambassador. July 12 is creeping up on us, but I am numb to this reality. Of course I’m excited, but I need to savour this excitement before I am ready to embark on this sure-to-be-memorable experience. In the following weeks I will dedicate more of myself to this project and this trip, so that I can get the most out of this extraordinary opportunity. Merci, encore.
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Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 22:16
Merci Chloe pour nous présenter l' action incroyable de Marie Marvingt. Ton idée de comparer Ettie et Marie est excellente, elle permet de voir à travers elles les différences et les similarités de la situation et du contexte dans lesquels de ces femmes extraordinaires vécurent lors de la première guerre. Deux mondes aux antipodes, mais quels sont les points communs? J ai hâte de lire plus à ce sujet surtout quand tu vas comparer avec la situation de nos jours pour les femmes.
Aussi je suis très heureuse que toi aussi tu ais eu l occasion de rencontrer et de développer une amitié avec une Ambassadrice! Vivement que je vous rencontre tous le 12 juin à Wellington!