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Another afternoon in the #NationalArchives, this time browsing references written by matrons for nurses wishing serve in France in the #GreatWar #FirstWorldWar #WW1 with Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps #QARANC. The women are all single (there isn’t an option in the register for ‘married’ – although widows were permitted) and in their mid to late 30s. Their backgrounds are solidly middle-class; fathers’ occupations include Army major, dental surgeon, surveyor, solicitor, merchant, farmer, and clergyman (lots of those!) Many trained in London hospitals still familiar today, following this with additional training in fever nursing, the care of children or consumptives – even midwifery training. Some have considerable private nursing experiences; a few served in the South African War of 1899-1902. Whilst I’m sure the “quiet refined gentlewoman” and the “nice minded conscientious girl” are lovely nurses, I particularly like the sound of these two women: “has peculiar mannerisms and is excitable” and “has a critical attitude towards those in authority and gives the impression of being very opinionated with not enough experience to justify it”. I feel a bit sorry for the nurse whose matron considered to be “a thorough nice woman but not one of our best nurses” – and I’m already a scared of the woman who is “not sufficiently patient to train probationers but can keep discipline amongst patients”. According to the record, they were all offered staff nurse posts, so even the opinionated one must have interviewed well.
H M Hulme
Writer of literary historical fiction set in the First World War. Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Rather chuffed to be long-listed for Historical Writers Association Dorothy Dunnett Short Story Competition 2019. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, reader. Africa, Modernism, tea, roses, and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.