No Petticoats Here, by Louise Jordan

Link to video ‘Behind the Songs’ In this blog, Louise Jordan, talks about how she went about uncovering forgotten stories of women in the First World War for her song writing project ‘No Petticoats Here’ As a musician I am constantly touring (link to gig list www.louisejordan.co.uk/tour-dates/). In September 2014 I enjoyed a week performing in Holland, Germany and Denmark. One of the songs in my set was Lovey Warne which I had written about a female smuggleress from the New Forest, where I currently live. There was something about the combination of sharing local history through this song that seemed to resonate beyond cultural boundaries and I returned to the UK wanting to do more of this. Sometime after returning from this European Tour, I asked my husband what he would like to do for his birthday in November and he suggested a trip to the battlefields on the Western Front. We spent two and a half weeks around the Somme staying in Premiere Classe ‘hotels’. Yes; it was muddy and rainy, but we had a white van (R.I.P.), Wellington boots and a camp stove. Going back through my photos on my arrival home, I pulled out the handful of women’s experiences of the First World War that I had collected evidence of. Often referred to as the wives of soldiers (photo of Private Thomas Alfred Pemberton and his wife in Fromelles Museum) and the nurses (often anonymous) that cared for the injured men, I kept returning to the portrait of Louise de Bettignies’ (photo) which adorns the otherwise rather immaculate Basilica of the Notre Dame de Lorette....