Monthly Archives: September 2015

Nurses in the Great War

Three nurses and two wounded men

Three nurses and two wounded men

Many will be familiar with the Great War biographical memoire of Vera Brittain—Testament of Youth—in which she recounts her experiences as a VAD in England, Malta and France. The image of the doughty VAD from a well-to-do family, doing her bit—Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey—is how most people see the nurses of the Great War. This caricature was certainly my view for a long time, although I was aware of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, and the Royal Navy’s equivalent, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service.

No-one has done more to enlighten me about the reality of nursing in the Great War than Sue Light, a nurse who has spent many years studying her profession, in particular military nursing in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Her work is extensive, thorough, detailed and fascinating.

The first of her three on-line information depositories is Scarlet Finders, which provides a wealth of information on British military nurses. Particularly interesting is the transcribed war diary of the Matron-in-Chief, British Expeditionary Force, France And Flanders. Continue reading

Sacrifice – Kentucky

The biographies of the two men buried in Kentucky are now complete.

Cave Hill National Cemetery

Cave Hill National Cemetery

Private John Benjamin French was an African-American soldier, who served in France and in the Army of Occupation with No. 8 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps. He died of tuberculosis on 10 May 1920 in Montreal General Hospital and his remains were repatriated to Lexington, where he was buried in Cove Haven Cemetery.

Private James Henry Hartley was a British soldier who served in France and Flanders with the Machine Gun Corps. He was serving as an instructor at Camp Zachary Taylor when he died of pneumonia on 20 April 1918. He is buried in Cave Hill National Cemetery, Louisville.