Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 10 years ago

What role did nurses play in the Great War?

3 Answers

  • 10 years ago
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    Some worked in field hospitals close to the front, looking after the wounded as they were brought off the batttlefield. Others worked in hospitals away from the fighting. Others worked in hospitals in their own countries, looking after those who were brought back from abroad. As well as professional nurses, there were many women who joined as volunteer nurses for the duration of the war.

    Some American volunteers went to France before America entered the war. Some of them found themselves assisting doctors in the French hospitals. "I knew nothing about nursing and had to learn on my patients, a painful process for all concerned." said Juliet Goodrich, who had been a canteen worker until she was recruited to work in Paris medical faciility in 1918. To some it was a great adventure. "To be in the front rank in this most dramatic event that was ever staged, and to be in the first group of women ever called out for duty with the United States Army .. .is all too much good fortune for any one person" enthused Julia Stimson, a nurse.

    An American nurse called Shirley Millard wrote about assisting a French surgeon during an operation:

    'Dr Le B's hands, encased in rubber gloves, were swift and sure. He always worked with a cigarette hanging limply from the corner of his mouth. It was part of my job to keep lighting fresh ones for him. At first when the ashes fell into an open wound over which he was working, I asked him frantically what I should do about it. he went on calmly, muttering "N'importe ca. Ce'st sterile."

    It did not matter, the ashes were sterile. I have since been amused at the thought of so many men journeying through life sublimely unconscious of the fact that some part or another of their anatomy had once served as Dr Le B's ash-tray.'

    A nurse called K.E. Luard wrote about her experience in a field hospital at passchendale in 1917:

    "6 am. We have just begun taking in the first cases. An officer died soon after admission, between 4 and 5 am.

    The Air peopel beghan streaming over at daylight adding theri whirring and droning to the din. The mines have been going off since 5 like earthquakes. Lots of high explosives have been coming over but nothing so far into this Camp. The uproar is almost stupefying. I'm going how to see how they are getting on in the Preperation and Resusciation Hut.

    Same day, 11 pm. We have been working in the roar of battle every minute since I last wrote, and it has been rather too exciting. I've not had time to hear any details from any of our poor abdominals, but the news has been good till this evening, thousands of prisoners - and Ypres choked with captured guns and ammunition, and some few miles of advance. This evening they tell of heavy counter-attack and some of our advace lost -

    It doesn't look as if we should ever sleep again. Apparently gunners and soldiers never do: it is difficult to see who can in this area. Our monster shells cutting through the air are the dizzy limit. There was a moment in the mornign when the C.O., and i thought he meant to do us in, but they stopped about one o'clock. And there was a moment about tea-time when I thought the work was going to heap up and get the upper hand of us, but the C.O. stopped admitting for an hour and sent them on lower down, which saved the situation. Of course, a good many die, but a great many seem to be going to do. We get them one hour after injury, which is our raison d'etre for being here.'

    Source(s): America's Women, 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines by Gail Collins The Virago Book of Women in the Great War edited by Joyce Marlow
  • 10 years ago

    They controlled strategy and the allocation of resources during attacks. They also provided most of the pilots in the Royal Flying Corps and the captains of most battleships. The Prime Minister of Britain was also a nurse. In their spare time nurses formed roving troupes of tap dancers and instructed the populace in the joys of bagpipe playing and Morris dancing.

    Or they looked after the sick and wounded.

    I doubt that you are capable of working out which answer is correct. What do you think nurses did?

  • 10 years ago

    They did their jobs of coarse. Some were army nurses and worked in temporary hospitals close to where the action was, some worked back in the states or what ever country they came from tending to the wounded that were brought back. Basically they worked anywhere they were needed.

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