Monday, 7 November 2011

Political Incorrectness

Our perception of 'correctness' and 'incorrectness' today is certainly at odds with society a hundred years ago (which we all know very well!). Another entry in the Royal Red Cross Register to a Sister Cecilia, a religious nursing sister attached to the Italian Mission in East Africa states:

For continuous good work. The entire effacement of self on the part of this lady, which enables her to nurse in all stages of tropical sickness the almost primitive savages of the Carrier Corps is beyond all praise

And what a pity that these religious sisters who did so much good work during the Great War, and whose birth names remain unknown, will probably never be recognised by current day members of their families.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Oh Happy Day

I've just found an entry in the Royal Red Cross Register for Helen Darge, a Staff Nurse with the Territorial Force Nursing Service whose award was dated 3rd June 1916. Presumably she was serving overseas, as she waited nearly four years to have the great honour of receiving her RRC from His Majesty The King at Buckingham Palace on 20th February 1920. However, she lost her precious medal on the very day of the Investiture, and then had to apply for permission to replace it at her own expense. I wonder what happened to the lost one, and if it has a place in anyone's collection today?

Friday, 4 November 2011

WO399 nurses' service records

The National Archives have today added the WO399 class of records to DocumentsOnline. The series comprises almost 16,000 service records of members of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, the Reserve and the Territorial Force Nursing Service who served during the Great War. And it looks as though a pretty thorough job has been made of producing them for the online service. Over the years I've looked at many hundreds of these files in an effort to pick up all the tiny pieces of the organisation and administration of the military nursing services, and will be sad that it's no longer possible to actually handle the original paperwork. But that's progress I guess, and it will be a big boon for researchers and family members worldwide to have such easy access to these records.

About 22,000 nurses served as trained military nurses, so many of these women are missing from the series of files. Quite a few went on to serve during the Second World War, and their files are still held by the Ministry of Defence, and records of women who had died, or were over age for further service at the time of the 1930s weeding process were destroyed. But still a very good chance that records exist either in these WO399 files, or at MOD, for any individual woman. I'll find it strange not to order original files next time I'm at TNA, but certainly won't miss the long wait for delivery as they were trundled from their far-flung corner. Now, a couple of clicks and I'll be away.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Military Nurses - searchable databases

Some of my databases have been published today on FindMyPast. They include members of the 'regular' branch of QAIMNS, 1902-1926, the Army Nursing Service, and members of the Scottish Women's Hospital who served during the Great War. Although there's a small amount of money to be made by doing this (a very small amount), money has been no motivation at all in deciding to go down this path. I've spent a lot of time researching nurses over the past few years, and have enjoyed every minute. But acquiring information that few others have access to seems a bit pointless to me unless it can be shared, and as I'm not very 'web-techy' this is a great way to make my research generally available. What I see as rather pointless is spending years on research and then shutting it away from the rest of the world in a cupboard (which for some reason is a very popular thing for people to do). Although it costs money to view the records, at least that seems rather better to me than no-one ever being able to see them at all. And as in the past, I'm still more than willing to help people out with their nurse research in any way I can, from any of the sources I hold.

Military Nurses on FindMyPast

Thanks to Paul Nixon and Stephen Rigden for their help in getting this up and running