Margaret Cowie Crowe was born 23rd November 1882 in Laurieston, Parish of Falkirk. Margaret went to Laurieston School and stayed on as a “Pupil Teacher” until 1904. She passed her Nursing exams with distinction in 1908 and was working as a Nurse at Nobel’s factory in West Quarter before the outbreak of war.
In February 1915 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital for Overseas Service, which had been set up by Elsie Inglis, and travelled with them to Serbia. There was a dreadful typhus epidemic in Serbia, and the Scottish nurses worked hard to clean up the hospitals and educate the Serbian population about hygiene. Margaret was based at the hospital camp in Mladenavac.
In October of 1915 Serbia was invaded and the people of Serbia were forced to retreat. Many thousands of Serbians walked in convoy or riding in small farm carts, across the mountains into Kosovo and Montenegro to reach the coast in Albania. Some of the nurses, including Margaret, decided go with them, so that they could look after the people that they met on the way. During the retreat Nurse Crowe was travelling with two others in an ambulance which slipped from the road and fell down a steep slope. Margaret’s friend, Nurse Toughill, hit her head in the crash and sadly died two days later from a fractured skull. Margaret was uninjured in the crash, which she put down to her long hair which was plaited and coiled around her head. Her hair acted as a crash helmet and absorbed the impact of the crash.
When Margaret reached the coast in Albania she took a boat to Italy. She then took a train through Italy, via Milan, Paris and Le Havre where she took a boat back to the UK. Margaret returned home from Serbia a few days before Christmas 1915.
We know from the school log book that she visited her old school with her friend Nurse Birnie (log book 4th February 1916) to talk to the senior pupils about her experiences.