In the company of nurses: the history of the British Army Nursing Service in the Great War, Edinburgh University Press, October 2014
McEwen, Yvonne Therese
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In the Company of Nurses: The History of The British Army Nursing Service in the Great War, Edinburgh University Press 2014. This is the first monograph to be published on the work of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) in the Great War. The historiography of British military nursing during this period is scant, and research based monograph are negligible. What exists, does not focus specifically on the work of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, (QAIMNS) the Reserve, (QAIMNSR) or the Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS) but tends to concentrate on the work of the volunteer, untrained, Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses. Unfortunately, this has resulted in factually inaccurate representations of British WW1 nursing. The mass mobilisation of nurses by professional and voluntary nursing services led to rivalry between the different groups and my research addresses the relationship that develop between the trained and volunteer nurses. Also, my research examines the climatic and environmental conditions that impacted upon the effective delivery of nursing and casualty care and the mismanagement of services and supplies by the War Office and the Army Medical Services. Additionally, the political controversies and scandals over inadequate planning for the care, treatment and transportation of mass casualties is addressed. Furthermore, diseases and traumatic injuries sustained by nurses on active service are examined and, shell-shock, hitherto considered a combatants' condition is cited in relation to mental health issues of nurses on active service. Moreover, my research examines the deaths and disability rates within the ranks of nursing services. My research features individual awards for acts of bravery and mentioned in Dispatches. On the Home Front the politics of nursing are addressed. Nurses campaigned for professional recognition and many were supportive of universal suffrage and they argued for both professional and personal liberation. The struggle for professional recognition led to divisions within the civilian nursing leadership because they failed to arrive at a consensus on the content of the Nurse Registration Bill. Also, the supply of nurses for the war effort was consistently problematic and this led the Government to establish the Supply of Nurses Committee. Before it had its first sitting it had already become contentious and controversial. The issues are discussed. Using extensive primary sources, the monograph moves away from the myths, and uncritical and overly romanticised views of WW1 military nursing. It is hoped that by examining the personal, professional and political issues that impacted upon nurses the monograph will make a significant contribution to the historiography of WW1 military nursing and to the history of the Great War more generally.