Isabella Mackenzie was born in Gobernuisgach between Lairg and Durness on 17 Mar 1885 to John McKenzie, a forester, and Henrietta Munro; who had married 5 March 1875 at Tongue.In the 1881 Census the family were living at "Forester's House, in Durness" this may well be Goberneisgach.* (See information below) Isabella was a nurse before the outbreak of the First World War, joining up to serve in the Royal Army Medical Corps to help treat the wounded.
The Royal Army Medical Corps and the Imperial Nursing Service were involved in dealing with the wounded from all the fronts of the Great War. They manned the casualty clearing stations, field hospitals and base hospitals in the United Kingdom treating the wounded soldiers.
Wounded soldiers arrived at the hospitals behind the lines suffering from gunshot wounds, shrapnel wounds and the effects of poison gas. They were taken to the casualty clearing stations by the unit stretcher -bearers and then on by ambulance to the Field Hospitals. The wounded were usually in a pitiful state, filthy and covered in mud from the trenches, when the nurses removed the men’s uniforms they found the wounded were covered in body lice due to months of not having chance to bathe themselves.
In the base hospitals in the United Kingdom they treated the soldiers who were severely wounded in the terrible fighting taking place in France. Some of the nurses treated the soldiers suffering from shell shock and other psychological effects of what they had witnessed during the fighting. Many of the soldiers had cracked under the strain and were driven insane by the whole experience of warfare; this was probably the worst illness that the medical services had to deal with. Isabella Mackenzie served in Salonika, Greece in 1917, as a nurse for the Serbian Army at a base hospital forty miles behind the front.
The hospital came under two heavy bomber raids in January and February 1917, the nurse’s leader Mrs Katherine Mary Harley, Croix De Geurre, who was the sister of the B.E.F Commander General French was killed. Isabella died in England at Eastbourne Military Hospital on the 2 of November 1918 from complications caused by measles.
She was the final member of the Mackenzie family to die in World War One, her name appears on both the Melness and Lairg War Memorials alongside her three brothers James, Joseph and Sinclair who had all been killed in action.