Open Access (free)
British Army sisters and soldiers in the Second World War
Author: Jane Brooks

Negotiating nursing explores how the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Q.A.s) salvaged men within the sensitive gender negotiations of what should and could constitute nursing work and where that work could occur. The book argues that the Q.A.s, an entirely female force during the Second World War, were essential to recovering men physically, emotionally and spiritually from the battlefield and for the war, despite concerns about their presence on the frontline. The book maps the developments in nurses’ work as the Q.A.s created a legitimate space for themselves in war zones and established nurses’ position as the expert at the bedside. Using a range of personal testimony the book demonstrates how the exigencies of war demanded nurses alter the methods of nursing practice and the professional boundaries in which they had traditionally worked, in order to care for their soldier-patients in the challenging environments of a war zone. Although they may have transformed practice, their position in war was highly gendered and it was gender in the post-war era that prevented their considerable skills from being transferred to the new welfare state, as the women of Britain were returned to the home and hearth. The aftermath of war may therefore have augured professional disappointment for some nursing sisters, yet their contribution to nursing knowledge and practice was, and remains, significant.

Open Access (free)
Jane Brooks

3 Nursing presence Somehow it’s more than just good nursing that’s required of us, it’s endless donkey work and then it’s endless interest in the boys and encouragement and jokes, and endless sense of humour, and then there’s the job of amusing them when they are getting better and then there’s the inevitable letters afterwards!1 Military success in war was contingent on men sustaining a determination to fight. Persuading men to continue fighting or returning them to combat after illness or injury depended on maintaining their morale. On active service

in Negotiating nursing
Jane Brooks

2 Challenging nursing spaces In June 1944, Sister Agnes Morgan wrote to her mother from a CCS near Rome: We are frightfully short staffed as a lot of the girls are working at forward F.D.S.s (field dressing stations) and we work like a C.C.S. except that we still think of ourselves as a Hospital and strive to do the ‘little extra’ that makes a difference between a C.C.S. and a Hospital! It is all impossible and rather hopeless, as the tide of human misery and suffering streams in too fast for us to do more than the bare necessities ... under canvas and all the

in Negotiating nursing
Jane Brooks

4 Negotiating the boundaries of nursing practice Captain Johnson, the dental officer, a quiet man, spoke next. ‘Treat for shock. Pick out any loose teeth and bits of bone then put a stitch through the tongue and tie it to a button on his jacket before you send him down the line on a stretcher’. His audience winced. Civvy nursing was never like this. These notes were probably intended for medical officers originally but they startled us into thinking objectively about the kind of nursing we might expect on active service.1 This quotation comes from Brenda

in Negotiating nursing
Jane Brooks

1 Salvaging soldiers, comforting men On 2 September 1939, the eve of the Second World War, the Nursing Mirror declared that a nurse ‘is not brought up to expect ease and comfort, but rather to learn to create ease and comfort for others’.1 This chapter examines the role of military nurses in war zones across the globe in providing this ‘ease and comfort’ for their combatant patients, and doing so in increasingly confident and humanitarian modes. Preparations began for the mobilisation of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAs), their

in Negotiating nursing
Jane Brooks

5 Reasserting work, space and gender boundaries at the end of the Second World War When you come out of the Forces you will have eight weeks’ leave in which to look round and take stock of your position … You have seen much, and you will bring to civilian life a broadened outlook. It may be that during your period of service you concentrated on one special branch of nursing work, while possibly losing touch with developments in other fields. Perhaps you held posts of great responsibility … While you have been away, those at home have had to carry on as best they

in Negotiating nursing
Open Access (free)
Nursing work and nurses’ space in the Second World War: a gendered construction
Jane Brooks

Introduction Nursing work and nurses’ space in the Second World War: a gendered construction The Second World War was a new type of war; it was a global, mobile and unpredictable war. It was ‘among the most destructive conflicts in human history’, in which over forty-­six million people perished, often in the most frightening and inhuman conditions.1 The latter years of the inter-­war period witnessed a modernisation of the military technologies that had been used in the First World War. These developments created tanks, submarines and aeroplanes that could

in Negotiating nursing
Open Access (free)
A history of colonial and post-colonial nursing
Editors: Helen Sweet and Sue Hawkins

Colonial Caring covers over a century of colonial nursing by nurses from a wide range of countries including: Denmark, Britain, USA, Holland and Italy; with the colonised countries including South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Nigeria, India, Indonesia (Dutch East Indies) and the Danish West Indies. It presents unique perspectives from which to interrogate colonialism and post-colonialism including aspects of race, cultural difference and implications of warfare and politics upon nursing. Viewing nursing’s development under colonial and post-colonial rule reveals different faces of a profession that superficially may appear to be consistent and coherent, yet in reality is constantly reinventing itself. Considering such areas as transnational relationships, class, gender, race and politics, this book aims to present current work in progress within the field, to better understand the complex entanglements in nursing’s development as it was imagined and practised in local imperial, colonial and post-colonial contexts. Taking a chronologically-based structure, early chapters examine nursing in situations of conflict in the post-Crimean period from the Indian Rebellion to the Anglo-Boer War. Recruitment, professionalisation of nursing and of military nursing in particular, are therefore considered before moving deeper into the twentieth century reflecting upon later periods of colonialism in which religion and humanitarianism become more central. Drawing from a wide range of sources from official documents to diaries, memoirs and oral sources, and using a variety of methodologies including qualitative and quantitative approaches, the book represents ground-breaking work.

Open Access (free)
Jane Brooks

the tent full of ‘men, reeking with blood, [which] was where I was needed’.3 In a letter to her mother in July 1943, Sister Agnes Morgan wrote, ‘Most of my love seems to be given to these men, what there is left is for you.’4 Emma Newland’s study of the civilian-­made-­soldier highlights the depersonalisation of the process that turned ordinary men into the machines of war.5 Negotiating nursing establishes the work of nursing sisters in re-­humanising these men, to support their recovery from injury and illness and remind them of why they were fighting. This is the

in Negotiating nursing
Liesbeth Hesselink

7 The early years of nursing in the Dutch East Indies, 1895–1920 Liesbeth Hesselink Before 1900 there were almost no trained nurses to be found in the Dutch East Indies. Medical progress called for qualified nurses. Initially, the solution seemed to lie in importing nurses from the Netherlands, but as they proved reluctant to travel to the colony, it was decided to attempt to train local people instead: (Indo-) European and Indonesian,1 male and female. Remarkably, while nursing was, typically, considered a woman’s occupation in the mother country, the training

in Colonial caring