Nursing and medical records in the Imperial War in Ethiopia (1935–36)
Anna La Torre, Giancarlo Celeri Bellotti and Cecilia Sironi
The Ethiopian war (also known as the ‘Abyssinian War’) refers to the war waged by Italy during Mussolini's regime against the Empire of Ethiopia in 1935. It led to the proclamation of the AOI (Italian Oriental Africa) in 1936. Through analysis of primary and secondary sources the chapter explores how the Italian Army health care service was organised during the war, and the status of nursing in the Italian Army. From original reports, it was discovered that the male military nurse corps provided the majority of nursing care on the battlefield, in hospitals and clinics and in ambulances and radiological laboratories. Only 384 female Italian Red Cross volunteers participated in the war. They were called “Lady” nurses or Sisters because they belonged to the Italian nobility and to the upper class. These female nurses were joined by 200 missionary nuns of different religious orders. At the end of 1941, during the Second World War, the British Army freed Ethiopia. With reference to the data examined, the outcomes show that, in spite of what the official reports said, the real protagonists of nursing were male nurses.