A new exhibition revealing the heroic role played by Lady Dorothie Feilding in the First World War goes on show next month.
Lady Dorothie’s War will be at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum thanks to a £7,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
It will trace the daughter of the Earl of Denbigh’s journey from the family estate in Newnham Paddox to the front line in Flanders.
In 1914, just weeks short of her 25th birthday, Lady Dorothie travelled to France as a member of the Munro Ambulance Corps after completing her training at the Hospital of St Cross.
She was soon sent to Belgium, where she worked as an ambulance driver ferrying wounded soldiers from the front to clearing hospitals.
Lady Dorothie’s bravery was hailed by the French Admiral, Pierre-Alexis Ronarc’h, who published a special Order of the Day on New Year’s Eve 1914 commending her ‘finest example of devotion and disregard for danger’.
In 1915 she was awarded the French military honour the Croix du Guerre and was also made a Knight of the Order of Leopold II in Belgium.
A year later, Lady Dorothie became the first woman to be awarded the Military Medal by the British Army.
In recommending her for the honour, a commander noted: “She has always dis-played a devotion to duty and contempt of danger which has been a source of admiration to all.”
The new exhibition will feature photographs, letters, journals and mementos
Education and events programmes will run alongside the exhibition, including school workshops and a research project to discover the history of First World War nursing training at St Cross.
Cllr Heather Timms, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for growth and investment, said: “Rugby has held a number of events to mark the centenary of the First World War and I’m delighted the Heritage Lottery Fund has helped Rugby Art Gallery and Museum tell the inspiring story of Lady Dorothie Feilding on the 100th anniversary of the award of her Military Medal.”
Vanessa Harbar, head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, the Lady Dorothie’s War project will research and trace her experience supporting the troops on the Western Front, which will culminate in a series of interactive events and exhibitions for the community.”
n Lady Dorothie’s War opens on Saturday, September 10 and runs until Saturday, October 29.