For anyone who has read the (anonymous) Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914-1915, the BBC drama , The Crimson Field, will seem rather unconvincing in its depiction of the reality of nursing in WW1.
While defined as a ‘Diary’ the resulting book seems to be based on letters home, and covers the writer’s nine months’ nursing in France, much of it spent on the hospital trains, nursing the most seriously wounded. It reveals the reality of D.O.W. but also the heroism of patients and nursing staff.
This time I’ve been carefully reading it to see what clues there are to the identity of this nursing sister, or to why her ‘diary’ ends rather abruptly. I’m noting any clues to her identity, to the actual numbers of the hospitals to which she was attached, and the end-points and dates of her train journeys in the hope that somewhere this information will be recorded, so that I can narrow down the candidates! I thought at first that she must have been a military nurse, as she’d been with the army in South Africa, and sailed with troops from ‘Sackville Street’ Dublin within days of the declaration of war.
It seems that the National Library of Scotland holds Blackwood’s papers, but perhaps those relating to the anonymous nursing sister were amongst the papers lost during the Blitz, in the fire that destroyed the publisher’s London premises.
Having accidentally visited the diaries page on the Open Library via The Internet Archive, in order to shorten the URL, I noticed that the book is attributed to “Kathleen Luard” so I will now desist from my frenetic note-taking to see whether I can find convincing evidence for this attribution.
For those who want to read this book:
I downloaded this book some years ago, when I was given my first Kindle and was stocking up on free Kindle editions. You don’t need a Kindle as it can also be read online, or downloaded in book form in a variety of formats here. For those who prefer an audio version, you can listen to it here (These links will direct you to pages on the incomparable Internet Archive.) The same book is offered on Amazon by ‘independent publishing platforms’ at prices between £10 and £20, quite steep, I think, considering it is a relatively short book.
Anonymous, Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914-1915, Edinburgh and London, 1915, [published William Blackwood & Sons in 1915].