Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, which came into being by Royal Warrant on this day in 1902. The first Matron-in-Chief was Sidney Jane Browne, and the Royal College of Nursing have a very good biography of her which can be downloaded here:

Sidney Jane Browne

She's shown in the photo below - the woman holding the flowers - although this was taken much later, during the Great War, by which time she was Matron-in-Chief of the Territorial Force Nursing Service.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

A Snapshot in Time

Not military nurses (once more!) but I felt this is another worthwhile image. All photos are really a snapshot in time, but I came across this recently and it really does fit the title. The women here are nurses from Windsor queueing outside Westminster Hall on 12th February 1952, waiting to attend the lying in State of King George VI, who had died on the 6th February. Some of them look relaxed and happy, some more thoughtful; all look cold, but so evocative of the time. These nurses would now be around eighty years of age - with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations upon us, I wonder if any of them remember being there that day.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Identifying Uniform

I know how hard it can be to tell nurses' uniforms apart in black and white photos, so I've just put a brief page on the website in an effort to help. There are some photos of members of the various branches of the military nursing services, with some accompanying notes on the differences shown. I'm also going to have a hunt around for some suitable VAD photos, with the same aim, though the variations in their dress might make it rather more difficult. The new page is here:

Military Nurses during the Great War - Identifying Uniform

Thursday, 15 March 2012


Although members of Voluntary Aid Detachments left behind many personal reminiscences and accounts of their time working in hospitals during the Great War, there's not a lot available online that looks at the 'official' side of their service. It's hard to find details of things like pay and conditions of service, where they worked and what they actually did. Also, there are often comments made about 'problems,' but rarely any clear indication of what the problems were. So I've started putting together a few pages about VAD service during the Great War, based mainly on official documents that originated with the British Red Cross Society and are now held online at the Imperial War Museum as part of their Women's Work Collection. All the items on the website are transcriptions of the original documents with photos that I've collected over time. I intend to add a good deal more over time, but the pages can be found here:

Voluntary Aid Detachments

Friday, 2 March 2012

A Nurse at the Front

Yesterday saw the publication of 'A Nurse at the Front, the First World War Diaries of Sister Edith Appleton.' Edited by Ruth Cowen, and published by Simon and Schuster in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum, it relates the daily trials and pleasures of 'Edie' who worked throughout the war as a Nursing Sister with Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. The background to Edie's life and work, and the story of the diaries can be found on Dick Robinson's website here:

Edith Appleton

and an interview with Dick at the IWM on publication day can be viewed here:

Dick at the IWM **

I'm sure that this book will become a classic among Great War nursing publications, so don't hesitate - you really might as well go out and buy it now, and as it also comes in a Kindle edition there's no excuse!

A Nurse at the Front (this link to Amazon - other booksellers are available)

**Note: the photo of a nurse used in this clip is not actually Edie, but her great friend Kate Maxey.