Friday, 29 January 2010

An exceptional nurse

Prior to the outbreak of war, members of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service were considered an elite among nurses, both by themselves and others. As the numbers of nurses grew during the war, there were many members of QAIMNS Reserve and the Territorial Force Nursing Service who might not have been considered for QAIMNS pre-war, on account of some perceived deficiency in their background, education or training. But as the war progressed it became evident that some of those elite 'regulars' were not able to cope with the stress and strains of war, while some of the 'others' became admirably efficient in difficult circumstances. An entry in the war diary of the Matron-in-Chief in France and Flanders mentioned the name of one TFNS Sister as being particularly capable, and in her file at The National Archives I found one of the most glowing testimonials I'd ever seen for any nurse with wartime service. These references are usually rather measured - no going overboard with the praise - but this one certainly belonged to an exceptional woman.

'This is to certify that MISS JESSIE MAUD CARDOZO, R.R.C., has served in the TERRITORIAL FORCE NURSING SERVICE from August 17th, 1914 to May 11th, 1919, when she was demobilised.
Miss Cardozo served in France from January 1916 to January 1919. She possesses a conspicuous professional ability and administrative capacity. She is a most excellent Sister, and an experienced assistant at operations. She is good-tempered, tactful, and most reliable and punctual. She has excellent judgement and her influence is generally of a high order. Miss Cardozo is a competent Theatre Sister and was in charge of a Casualty Clearing Station in France during a time of great stress. She proved of the greatest assistance, being cool and collected at all times. She has marked powers of initiative and is a lady with a keen sense of loyalty. Miss Cardozo was mentioned in Despatches by Sir Douglas Haig in November, 1917, and in July 1919, and was awarded the Royal Red Cross, 1st Class, in June, 1918, for valuable work. She has rendered excellent service for almost five years.'

Sidney Browne, Matron-in-Chief, T.F.N.S., March 12th, 1920

Jessie Maud Cardozo, was born 1882 in Stratford, Essex, and trained as a nurse at King's College Hospital, London between 1905 and 1908. She died in 1965 in Eastbourne, Sussex, aged 83 years.

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