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Lady Dorothie Mary Evelyn Feilding-Moore - First Female Winner of the Military Medal for Bravery

British heiress. Dorothie shunned her aristocratic background to become a highly decorated volunteer nurse and ambulance driver on the Western Front during World War I.

She was the first woman to be awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field in 1916 and she also received the Croix de Guerre in 1915 from the French and the Order of Leopold II in 1915 from the Belgians for services to their wounded.

She was a daughter of Rudolph Feilding, 9th Earl of Denbigh and the Countess of Denbigh and Cecilia Mary Feilding (née Clifford). She was one of ten children,three boys and seven girls. She was a distant relative of Henry Fielding,the author of "Tom Jones".

As a child she was educated at her birthplace at Newnham Paddox, Monks Kirby, Warwickshire, and at the Convent of the Assumption in Paris, where she became fluent in French.

She made her debut in May 1908 at the age of 18, being presented to the King and Queen of England by her mother.

Like many of her siblings,she felt the need to do her part when war broke out. Three of her sisters, Lady Clare, Lady Elizabeth ("Bettie") and Lady Victoria would serve, as well as three brothers: Major Rudolph, Viscount Feilding, Coldstream Guards,who survived the war; Lieutenant-Commander, the Hon.Hugh Cecil Robert Feilding, Royal Navy, killed in action on 31 May 1916 at the Battle of Jutland and Captain, the Hon. Henry Simon Feilding also Coldstream Guards, who died on 9 October 1917 from wounds received in action in Flanders just three months after his sister had left.

In September 1914,after a short training course at Rugby Hospital,she traveled to the Western Front in Belgium where she began driving ambulances for the Munro Ambulance Corps (founded by Dr. Hector Munro), an all-volunteer unit which included May Sinclair, Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm. This corps, comprising a convoy of motor ambulances donated by the British Red Cross, consisted of transporting wounded men from front line positions between Nieuport and Dixmude to the hospitals at Furnes. Though she was from a privileged upbringing she had an easy demeanor that transcended social boundaries, one that endeared her to all that she came in contact with, whether nobility or the ordinary fighting man. It was reported that her 'five o'clock teas' among the ruins of Furnes gained great fame among the Belgian officers and enlisted men stationed there. Her heroism was such that her ambulance work at Dixmude was recognized in a 'special order of the day' issued on 31 December 1914 by French Rear-Admiral Pierre Ronarc'h, [commanding the Fusiliers Marins] for which she subsequently received the French Croix de Guerre(bronze star).

In 1916,Commander Henry Crosby Halahan, RN, Officer Commanding Royal Naval Siege Guns, wrote the following letter of recommendation to Prince Alexander of Teck, head of the British Military Mission in Belgium. "I venture to submit that Lady Dorothie Feilding should in like manner be rewarded. The circumstances are peculiar in that, this being an isolated Unit, no medical organization existed for clearing casualties other than this voluntary one and owing to indifferent means of communication etc., it was necessary for the ambulance to be in close touch with the guns when in action. (She)was thus frequently exposed to risks which probably no other woman has undergone. She has always displayed a devotion to duty and contempt of danger which has been a source of admiration to all. I speak only of her work with the Naval Siege Guns, but your Serene Highness is also aware of her devoted services to the Belgian Army and to the French - notably to the Brigade des Marins. This citation ultimately resulted in Feilding becoming the first woman to be awarded the Military Medal for bravery. She was also decorated by King Albert I of Belgium with the Order of Leopold II, Knights Cross (with palm) for services to his country's wounded.

In her letters, which she wrote home to Newnham Paddox almost daily, she would reflect on the tragedy and horror of war and also the problems of being a woman at the front contending with gossip, shells, funding, lice(which forced many of the nurses to cut their hair short), vehicle maintenance and inconvenient marriage proposals. After two years at the front she began to look pale and tired. She served with the corps in Flanders until June 1917 when she returned home to marry.

On 5 July 1917, she wed Captain Charles Joseph Henry O'Hara Moore, [Military Cross] of Mooresfort, Tipperary. She moved to Warley, Middlesex where her husband was stationed in the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards. After a brief honeymoon period,she was back behind the wheel of an ambulance, ferrying the wounded around London. After the war, the couple lived most of the year at her husband's ancestral home, Mooresfort House in South Tipperary. They had four daughters (Ruth,Celia,Edith and June) and one son(Arthur).

She became an active member of the British Legion as well as being President of the Tipperary Jubilee Nursing Association and the local Agricultural Show Society. She had always been a keen huntswoman and this continued in Ireland where she was a regular feature at hunt meets, especially the Scarteen Hunt.In 1935,the Irish Times stated she had been "prominently associated with the Scarteen Hunt to the success of which, her great organizing powers in no small degree contributed. In no small measure, these powers had been honed during her time with the Munro Corps.

Her husband had a stud at Mooresfort and the couple regularly attended race meetings in Ireland and England.

She died of heart failure at the age of 46 in Mooresfort House, Tipperary, Ireland.

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