From the office: WW1 nursing heroines

By Deputy Editor, 23 May 2012 - 1:40pm

WW1 nurses on your tree? Here's how a surprise discovery shed light on one nurse and her patients, says deputy editor Claire Vaughan

Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Claire Vaughan, deputy editor
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My favourite feature in the June issue of WDYTYA? Magazine  (out now) has to be the one on World War One nurses. There’s something quietly heroic about these women who risked their lives to care for sometimes horrifically injured soldiers, often only a few hundred metres from the fighting.

Reading it brought to mind Downton Abbey and selfless Lady Sybil who trained an auxiliary nurse and went on to look after sick and wounded men at the hall and nearby village. Sue Light, a British Military Nurse historian, sets the record straight on this version of events on her excellent blog, This Intrepid Band, which also provides plenty of useful links if you want to investigate your wartime nursing ancestors further.

Now couldn’t be a better time to research your WW1 nursing forebears. The National Archives has recently released 15,000 service records (1902-1922) online. These are packed with the sort of snippets that really bring the past to life – personal details, where they served and even confidential papers on conduct.

Earlier this week, Findmypast released a dataset of military nurses records spanning 110 years and including WW1 nurses. To give your research context, try Scarlet Finders and its history of military nursing.

While we’re on the subject of WW1 nurses, I spotted a lovely story on the Daily Mail website last week. A dusty old autograph book, once owned by auxiliary nurse Adeline Wadlow, was found in an attic and passed to the Shifnal Local History Group. It turned out to be full of poems, sketches and cartoons drawn by soldiers under her care recuperating at a hospital in Shropshire. As thankyous go, some of them are pretty stark, but they’re a great insight into the realities of war that you just can’t get from the official records. See the pictures here.

We’d love to hear about your nursing ancestors – why not get in touch.

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From the office: War Hero In My Family
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