Mary Bushby Stubbs, saving French lives

10 Jan

British women played an increasing part in the war effort as the Great War went on. It was not just British forces that benefitted from their contribution. Mary Bushby Stubbs served with the British and the French, and was decorated by both for her bravery in the field.

Mary Bushby Stubbs MM (image from the IWM Women at War archive)

In her book, Within The Year After, Betty Adler recounts Stubbs’s story:

I want to tell you about these English Fany girls for they are one of the joys of my motoring in Belgium. F. A. N. Y. stands for First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, an organization of English war workers, that saw some of the foremost of the women’s service in the war. There is Mary Bushby Stubbs, such a pretty, blue-eyed Irish girl, whose home is in London, and she drove the car to Louvain. She had enlisted in the beginning of the war as a Red Cross Nursing Aid, but contracted a septic throat from nursing poisonous wounds — some of the wounded had gone for five days before they could reach the hospitals, she told me. Forbidden to nurse, she entered the Yeomanry motor car driving service and was sent to Chalons sur Marne in February, 1917. She drove an ambulance during the battle on the Chemin du Dames, was in the drive of Chalons and at Epernay. She has the Croix de Guerre, has one citation from the Chemin du Dames and one for the time they bombed the hospital at Chalons.

“We lived on the rations of the French soldiers and often we were hungry,” she told me, once. “Their rations were black bread, black coffee, horse meat and beans.” She was one of the motor girls chosen to run the cars that brought the prisoners back from Germany after the armistice and had many thrilling mo-

Stubbs was awarded the Military Medal for her gallantry. The citation (London Gazette 19/10/18) is vague about exactly when the events took place but presumably it was for the air raid on Chalon, to which Adler referred:

For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. Miss Stubbs was detailed to evacuate a hospital. While her car was waiting to be loaded a bomb dropped within 30 yards. The stretcher-bearers, who had been loading a car immediately in front, ran for protection to dug-outs, calling to Miss Stubbs to do the same. She, however, regardless of her own safety, stayed in the open with two wounded and helpless patients to help and reassure them. She finally got them unloaded and to a place of safety. During the unloading a second bomb fell on the hospital.


Posted by on 10 January 2013 in Award-winners, Women


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2 responses to “Mary Bushby Stubbs, saving French lives

  1. Sarah Pearson-Phillips

    14 March 2015 at 5:54 pm

    A distant relation of mine. She looks uncannily like my nephew!


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