Flora Sandes: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Flora Sandes.

  • Flora Sandes was the only British woman to officially fight as soldier during World War I. She was a Sergeant Major in the Serbian Army and a Captain after the war.
  • Flora was born in 1876 in Yorkshire. She often wished she had been born a boy and as a child she learned to drive, shoot and ride a horse.

  • While working as a secretary, she spent her spare time training with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry Corps, a women only military unit. She learned to march, give first aid, and signal.
  • She lived in London for a while although she had a passion for travel. By age 18 she had been to Egypt, Canada and the United States where she supposedly shot a man in self defence.
  • She travelled to Serbia a week after World War I broke out. She worked in military hospitals, became fluent in the local language and joined the Serbian Red Cross.

Flora Sandes

  • Flora Sandes joined the Serbian Army and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant within a year.
  • In November, 1916 she was seriously injured by a grenade and spent 2 months recovering in hospital.
  • She was awarded Serbia’s highest military award, the Order of the Star of Karadorde.
  • While on sick leave in England, she raised money to help the Serbian army.
  • After the war, Flora Sandes lived in Paris and Belgrade and married an officer in the Serbian army.
  • She worked at Paris’ famous Folies Bergere nightclub and as the first taxi driver in Belgrade.
  • When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941 (World War 2), Sandes was too old at 65 to join the Yugoslav army. The Germans arrested her but released her soon afterwards.
  • Flora Sandes returned to England after the war and died in Suffolk in 1956. She wrote two autobiographies describing her exciting experiences in the army and elsewhere.

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