The First World War was the first ‘total war’. Its industrial weaponry damaged millions of men, and drove whole armies underground into dangerously unhealthy trenches. Many were killed. Others suffered from massive, life-threatening injuries; wound infections such as gas gangrene and tetanus; exposure to extremes of temperature; emotional trauma; and systemic disease. Tens of thousands of women volunteered to serve as nurses to alleviate their suffering. Some were fully-trained professionals; others had minimal preparation, and served as volunteer-nurses. Their motivations were a combination of compassion, patriotism, professional pride and a desire for engagement in the ‘great enterprise’ of war. The war led to an outpouring of war-memoirs, produced mostly by soldier-writers whose works came to be seen as a ‘literary canon’ of war-writing. But nurses had offered immediate and long-term care, life-saving expertise, and comfort to the war’s wounded, and their experiences had given them a perspective on industrial warfare which was unique. Until recently, their contributions, both to the saving of lives and to our understanding of warfare have remained largely hidden from view. ‘Nurse Writers of the Great War’ examines these nurses’ memoirs and explores the insights they offer into the nature of nursing and the impact of warfare. The book combines close biographical research with textual analysis, in order to offer an understanding of both nurses’ wartime experiences and the ways in which their lives and backgrounds contributed to the style and content of their writing.

So what went wrong?
Odette Best

5 Training the ‘natives’ as nurses in Australia: so what went wrong? Odette Best Introduction The story of the Aboriginal women who participated in Australia’s nursing history remains largely untold. In the first six decades of the twentieth century, Aboriginal people were confronted with harsh exclusionary practices that forced them to live in settlements, reserves and missions.1 While many Aboriginal women worked in domestic roles (in white people’s homes and on rural properties), small numbers were trained at public hospitals and some Aboriginal women

in Colonial caring
Christine E. Hallett

6 The war nurse as free agent Introduction: the rewards of professional nursing In the second decade of the twentieth century, the nursing professions in both Britain and the USA had attained a level of recognition that permitted their members considerable personal and professional autonomy. During training their lives were circumscribed by the patriarchal hierarchies of early-twentieth-century hospital life; but, once they had attained the level of ‘senior probationer’, nurses exercised high levels of responsibility – often running wards and supervising junior

in Nurse Writers of the Great War
Christine E. Hallett

5 American nurses in Europe Introduction: American nurses and the war in Europe Some nurse writers focused determinedly on the positive elements of military nursing, emphasising their own roles as effective humanitarian workers providing a highly professional service. Among these were Julia Stimson, a senior US nurse, and Helen Dore Boylston, a sister with the Harvard Unit. Yet the decision of such nurses to engage in the war ran counter to a powerful strain of pacifism in the writings of others. In August 1915, when Britain had been at war for a year, a BJN

in Nurse Writers of the Great War
Charlotte Dale

3 The social exploits and behaviour of nurses during the Anglo-Boer War, 1899–19021 Charlotte Dale During the Second Anglo-Boer War, two key watchwords associated with serving nurses were ‘duty’ and ‘respectability’.2 At the commencement of war, women from across the Empire, including trained nurses, saw the opportunity to travel to South Africa to experience war and work alongside men as their equals, caught up in a patriotic fervour to defend and expand the Queen’s lands. The war, which resulted from years of ambitious encounters over gold deposits, Afrikaner

in Colonial caring
Colonialism and Native Health nursing in New Zealand, 1900–40
Linda Bryder

4 ‘They do what you wish; they like you; you the good nurse!’:1 colonialism and Native Health nursing in New Zealand, 1900–40 Linda Bryder Introduction In 1911 New Zealand’s Department of Public Health launched its Native Health nursing scheme, to serve the health needs of the local indigenous population, the Māori.2 At that time the Māori population numbered about 52,000; most lived in extremely isolated small communities and had much poorer health standards than non-Māori. The circular announcing the scheme explained that the appointees would be trained

in Colonial caring
The Politics of ‘Proximity’ and Performing Humanitarianism in Eastern DRC
Myfanwy James

(post)colonial global inequity ( Fassin, 2007 ; Geissler, 2013 ). In MSF, ‘national staff’ – employees who are recruited within their country of origin rather than flown in for short-term ‘missions’ – account for 92% of employees ‘in the field’ ( Fox, 2014 : 106). If MSF is a dispersed collection of individuals, Congolese employees are MSF’s permanent human infrastructure in North Kivu: drivers, guards, logisticians, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians. Senior decision-making positions (such as heads of mission and project coordinators) are held by foreign

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Planned Obsolescence of Medical Humanitarian Missions: An Interview with Tony Redmond, Professor and Practitioner of International Emergency Medicine and Co-founder of HCRI and UK-Med

it can now live there and it will cover the wound. But it requires specialist post-op nursing care to make sure it doesn’t become infected. So, first you need an operating microscope, which you’re not going to take with you, plus it’s complicated, and you need specialist nurses for the post-op period. So, many years ago I worked in Sarajevo, where they had a plastic-surgery centre. Sarajevo was a leading plastic-surgery centre and lots of war wounds needed

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Lasse Heerten, Arua Oko Omaka, Kevin O'Sullivan, and Bertrand Taithe

, female nurses, women doctors and other aid workers in the crisis – we talk a lot about missionaries as men and aid workers as men, but women played a sizeable role in the delivery of aid. Lasse: Just to echo that: I also only discovered glimpses into a more complex understanding of how gender worked in the field. Our narratives about humanitarian work are predominantly masculine narratives – echoing the way Biafra aid, for instance, was internationally

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Middle-Aged Syrian Women’s Contributions to Family Livelihoods during Protracted Displacement in Jordan
Dina Sidhva, Ann-Christin Zuntz, Ruba al Akash, Ayat Nashwan, and Areej Al-Majali

areas. As one woman from Deraa confirmed, ‘before the war, [our] men worked with cars’ – that is, as cross-border taxi and lorry drivers. In the temporary absence of men, older women in rural areas often ran family-held shops, and worked as nurses and teachers ( Rugh, 1996 ; Rabo, 2008 ), while unmarried girls were hired out to local farmers as low-skilled day labourers ( Chatty, 2013 ; Abdelali-Martini and Dey De Pryck, 2015

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs