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Nursing Through Shot and Shell (Paperback)

A Great War Nurse's Story

P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 20th Century P&S History > Social History WWI > Home Front Women of History

By Dr Vivien Newman, Christine Smyth
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 176
ISBN: 9781399023214
Published: 2nd November 2023

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This recently discovered memoir gives an intimate glimpse into the Great War service of Beatrice Hopkinson, a Territorial Forces Nursing Service Sister, who remained steadfastly and true to her profession as she nursed through shot and shell.

Dr Vivien Newman's meticulously researched Introduction brings Beatrices world out of the shadows, juxtaposing her war service against the background of the Army Nursing Service, where dedicated, professional nurses worked closer to the Front Line than women could have ever previously imagined doing.

Beatrice was selected for the most onerous type of duty in the bitterest phase of the war. She had arrived in St Omer in the summer of 1917 when the town was being continuously bombed. With her hospital under nightly attack, Beatrice simply got on with the job she had come to France to do: saving the lives and easing the dying of soldiers on the Western Front.

For Beatrice, spring 1918 was marked by a sea of blood. Caught up in the British Armys headlong retreat when hospitals and patients risked being captured by the enemy, she and her rapid response team were rushed between several Casualty Clearing Stations in France and Belgium. They operated on thousands of soldiers wounded in Germanys final attempt to win the War.

As the fortunes of war finally turned in the Allies favour, Beatrice advanced through Belgium, a land destroyed by war and enemy occupation. This diary gives rare insight into the realities of Front Line nursing through the eyes of someone who had never anticipated working for the Army but who, when her country called, willingly and steadfastly answered.

"Previously unpublished it is thanks to Christine Smyth, a descendant, that Beatrice ably supported by Viv Newmans exemplary editing has given the reader an absorbing close-up view of one Territorial Force Nursing Sisters life during wartime service in France and Belgium in the Great War."

Martin Willoughby, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association
Dr Vivien Newman

About Dr Vivien Newman

 Dr Vivien Newman is the author of We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World War. An expert on women's experiences during the First World War, she is based at the University of Essex. Dr Newman is also working on a collection of women's First World War poetry and a book on children's experiences during the conflict, both due to be published by Pen and Sword. She is a regular speaker at national conferences and for groups including the Women's Institute and the Western Front Association.


 Christine Smyth
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