8 comments on “Message in a bottle. 1916.

  1. I’m an ardent fan of Terry Pratchett and have all his books to read ad re-read as the mood takes me. I was always convinced that he based the story of The Monstrous Regiment on the true story of James Grey.
    James Gray was born Hannah Snell in 1723 in Worcester, England. As a child she played soldiers, but was otherwise seen as a normal young girl. In 1744 she married James Summs, and two years later gave birth to a daughter. Within a year her daughter had died and her husband had deserted her. She borrowed a man’s suit from her brother-in-law James Gray whose name she assumed. She began to travel, trying to find her husband who she later discovered had been executed for murder. She traveled to Portsmouth and joined the Royal Marines. She was sent in to battle twice, during which time she was wounded 11 times in the legs and once in the groin. It is not known how she concealed her sex when her groin wound was treated. In 1750 her unit returned to England and she revealed her true sex to her shipmates. She told her story to the papers and petitioned for a military pension which was, surprisingly, granted. Her military service was officially recognized and she eventually opened a pub called the “The Female Warrior”. She eventually remarried and had two children. Hannah died in 1792.
    Surprisingly she wasn’t the only one. If you’re interested there’s great list of the top 10 here.

  2. Historically there have been so few roles for women that it is hardly surprising that a few of them ran away to join the war. I would love to know how Hannah/James hid her groin wound, although I think it probably says more about the medical skills of the time than it does about her ability to decieve! 🙂

    I will have to look up some more hidden women in war articles now, you have got me going.

  3. I had no idea about any of this! So way back then there were women who actually fought alongside men?

    Part of me is horrified but the other part is kind of cheering. Can’t help wondering how they snuck off to pee though 😦

    • I think it just means that if you showed willing they were happy to give you a weapon and send you off to die! Reportedly some pirates were secretly women too.

      You have to wonder about not only the peeing side, obviously they never changed clothes or washed as these would likely been group activities and their secret would have been revealed.

      You should read Monstrous Regiment, he goes through so much of this stuff in the funny way only Terry Pratchett can!

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