Friday, 24 April 2009

A Portrait of a Nursing Sister

While looking through nurses' files at The National Archives, I came across a member of the regular QAIMNS who died in service between the wars. Born in 1891, she had worked as a VAD for most of the Great War, eventually training as a nurse at King's College Hospital from 1918 to 1921 before joining Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service as a Staff Nurse in 1923. While working in Egypt in 1933, by then a Sister, she contracted influenza from a patient and died of pneumonia. In her file is a list of effects returned to her family after her death. I've come across these sad lists before, but this one was probably the longest I've seen, running over four closely-typed pages, and amounting to several hundred items. What strikes me is how vivid a picture these things paint of the life of a member of the nursing service overseas at that time - her clothes, her hobbies, her off-duty time and a little of her personality - a woman who was the owner of a riding habit, a toasting fork, a Yo-Yo, and even one pair of red knickers! So here are just of a few of the personal belongings of a Nursing Sister of the time - a trip back to the past.

Riding habit
Riding boots
Tennis racket and press
Tennis eye shade
Badminton racket
Tennis dresses (5)
Fishing net
Thermos flask
Gramophone and 30 records
Contract Bridge and Auction Bridge scorers
Bridge pencils (4)
Bridge pencils, ornamental
Books, novels (8)
Golf clubs and bag
Ticket for the Irish Grand National Sweepstake
Parasols (3)
Coats (5)
Silk dresses (4)
Short silk coats (2)
Dresses, fancy (2)
Black lace dress
Black evening dress
Shoes (12 pairs)
Necklaces, bracelets - a dozen or so, assorted
Underwear - dozens of items; night-dresses, bodices, vests, camisoles, stockings, corsets, knickers, dressing-gowns
Purse bags (6)
Cigarette cases (3)
Cigarette lighters (2)
Green and yellow cigarette holders in cases
Brass cigarette box
9ct. gold wrist watch
Ingersoll watch
Sketch book and pencils
Sewing materials
Knitting needles, assorted
Evening dress, half-finished (Blue Crepe-de-Chine)
Pink wool bed-jacket, half made
Ivory napkin ring
Toasting fork
Hair Waver
Electric heater with transformer and flex
Dolls (2)
Dolls' seat
Chinese box

1 comment:

  1. As a bridge player, I feel an affinity for this young person. I can picture her with three others in a lively game of bridge in the evening after a hard day's work!