“I could see nothing,” the trooper wrote. “It was exactly as though I had gone suddenly blind; but I felt the tail of an overcoat sweep across my face. Instinctively I clutched it with my left hand, and must have held on for two or three yards before I fainted.
“The Serbs have a theory that you must not give water to a wounded man because they say it chills him, so they poured fully half a bottle of brandy down my throat and put a cigarette in my mouth.
“I caught the little sergeant who had helped carry me watching me with his eyes full of tears. I assured him that it took a lot to kill me, and that I should be back again in about ten days”.
…It took Sandes not ten days but six months to recover sufficiently to rejoin the ranks and to return to the front line. By the end of the war, Sandes would be awarded Serbia’s highest military honour, the Order of the Karadjordje Star.
Sandes is a celebrated national hero in Serbia to this day. That’s all the more remarkable for two reasons. First, Sandes was not Serbian but British – born and raised in Yorkshire.
And second, Private Sandes’s first name was Flora. She was the only British woman to serve in uniform, in combat, as an enlisted soldier in World War One.