Sunday, 23 May 2010


Returning to the theme of the alleged rules against British nurses fraternizing with members of the opposite sex (whoever they might be) it's been interesting and enlightening this week to view photographs taken by a British nurse during the war. The images have been posted to a couple of forums recently by the current owner of the album, Bob Cleary, who lives in the USA, and they give a rare insight into the lives of British trained nurses and VADs in France. What comes over is a sense of happiness and enjoyment - of course it couldn't always have been like that - but 'pleasure' shines through from distant times. And there certainly seems to be a great deal of off-duty socialising going on between the nurses and various officers and men - picnics, tennis and tea predominate.

A dictionary definition of 'fraternization' gives 'socialise, mingle, mix, consort, hobnob.'
Certainly, all of that.

The images can be viewed by following the link on this page of the Western Front Association forum:
Nurse's photo album

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Leamington Spa

At present I'm trying to sort out some facts and figures for a new article, which means going through some data for the five hundred nurses who joined QAIMNS between April 1902 and the Armistice in November 1918.
496 women were trained in 64 different towns and cities, and in several hundred hospitals within these towns. Almost half (224) were trained in one of thirty different hospitals in London, and the next greatest number, twenty-eight, in one of five Liverpool Hospitals. The top ten most 'popular' towns are listed below, and it can be seen that London predominated by a huge margin:

London - 224 women trained in thirty hospitals
Liverpool - 28 women trained in five hospitals
Dublin - 23 women trained in seven hospitals
Edinburgh - 20 women trained in one hospital (Edinburgh Royal Infirmary)
Glasgow - 18 women trained in three hospitals
Cambridge - 14 women trained in one hospital (Addenbrookes)
Manchester - 11 women trained in four hospitals
Leeds - 10 women trained in one hospital (Leeds General Infirmary)
Birmingham - 8 women trained in three hospitals
Leamington Spa - 8 women trained in one hospital (Warneford Hospital)

Leamington Spa? Absolutely. In a list where many large cities barely figure, and struggled to supply even half a dozen nurses for the army, Warneford Hospital, Leamington Spa, seemed to be a relative hot-house for military nurses. Bristol and Belfast, Aberdeen and Oxford, Nottingham and Newcastle-upon-Tyne were all poor runners-up to Leamington Spa. All theories on this little anomaly gratefully received!