Sunday, 25 January 2009

In All Those Lines

Some months ago I was sent a copy of this book to read. It is based on the diaries of Elsie Tranter, a member of the Australian Army Nursing Service, who worked in a variety of hospitals in France during the Great War. The original of the diary is held at the State Library of Victoria, and it's been dusted off, edited and published by Jennifer Gillings and Julieanne Richards. And what a worthwhile job they've made of it.
Unlike some similar memoirs, it's not simply a catalogue of wounded, dead and dying; of hardship and despair. Elsie Tranter makes her wartime journey very much more interesting than that, giving accounts of the places she visits on her travels, and a great deal of information about her life in general and her leisure time, well-balanced with stories of the soldiers she cares for and her life as a professional woman in wartime. There are many tiny incidents included which give insights into a nurse's life in France not normally found elsewhere, and which make this a unique account of that time. It also demonstrates that nurses with an adventurous spirit could find all sorts of ways to bypass certain rules, regulations and restrictions which were rife in France. She spends a good deal of time catching midnight trains and hitching lifts on lorries to visit places she should not really have been in. It's definitely the story of an Australian!

'In All Those Lines - the diary of Sister Elsie Tranter 1916-1919'
Edited by J. M. Gillings and J. Richards and published by the editors, 2008: ISBN:9780646495590

1 comment:

  1. Great blog and I am directing producing and writing a show about Australian WWI nurses in Sept October in Sydney Australia... too far from you I know but I thought I'd let you know about it. is the shows website.