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Sister Janet (Hardback)

Nurse & Heroine of the Anglo-Zulu War, 1879

Boer/Zulu War Women of History Victorian Era Military

By Brian Best, Katie Stossel, Edited by Dr Adrian Greaves
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781844154258
Published: 27th April 2006
Last Released: 15th June 2007

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Janet Well's achievements make for fascinating reading. She was only 18 when decorated for her nursing service to the Russians in the 1878 Balkan War. The following year she became the only nurse to serve at the Front in the Anglo Zulu War. After a period in Northern Zululand she was sent to the garrison at Rorke's Drift very soon after the legendary action. Revered by the soldiers, she had to make do in appalling conditions with scant supplies. She overcame extreme difficulties and prejudice despite her youth.

After returning to England in time for her 20th birthday, her achievements were recognized by the award of the Royal Red Cross, the highest accolade and the equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

This is a gripping tale of a true heroine who refused to accept the conventions of the age and in so doing made a huge contribution to the welfare of the British Army.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As a former trauma nurse, I always love reading books about the women who were on the front lines of the present day nursing profession when it was in its infancy.

One woman I'd never heard of was Janet Wells, a young woman who cared for wounded soldiers with few supplies and little help.

She helped a tremendous amount of wounded men during the Balkan and Anglo-Zulu wars, all before age 20.

This book was especially amazing as Janet Well's great-granddaughter shared her grandmother's scrapbook with The Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society so as her history would be told to a wider audience.

Very much enjoyed reading about Ms. Wells and her amazing accomplishments.

NetGalley, Patricia Fischer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is not an unbiased review as I am a nurse and a history geek.
Part 1 covers the horrible conditions awaiting the war wounded in Scutari during the Crimean War ( October 1853 to February 1856) and the Herculean work accomplished by Florence Nightingale assisted by the 125 nurses she brought with her from England. It also covers the elevation in the eyes of the populace of the profession of nurse and the establishment of the Red Cross and the tremendous changes in military hospital care. The next to influence care was Henri Dunant (Swiss humanitarian, businessman and social activist. He was the visionary, promoter and co-founder of the Red Cross) who changed conditions in Northern Italy around the Battle of Solferino in 1859 and established the hospital at Castiglione. Disease was rampant at home as well and things were changing in patient care.
Part 2 covers the work and life of Nurse Janet Wells. Born in West London in 1859 into the family of a talented professor of music, she determined to become a Nursing Sister and serve at age 17. There is a good description of the education and learning process of the time. Then begins clear descriptions of the work she accomplished in the nursing service to the Russians in the 1878 Balkan War and became the only nurse to serve at the Front in the Anglo Zulu War.
The due diligence into historical research and the use of her own journals is beyond impressive.

NetGalley, Jan Tangen

Wow what a dedicated woman not only as a nurse but as a friend and companion. Worked through horrendous times but nothing stopped her form carrying on.

NetGalley, Angela Stewart
 Brian Best

About Brian Best

BRIAN BEST has an honours degree in South African History and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He was the founder of the Victoria Cross Society and edited its Journal for many years. Brian also lectures about the Victoria Cross and War Art. He is married and lives in Rutland.


About Katie Stossel

Katie Stossel is a State Registered Nurse with over 40 years experience. She lectures on medical matters worldwide with her surgeon husband. She lives in Kent.


About Dr Adrian Greaves

In 1960 Adrian Greaves joined up as a Private soldier. A year later aged seventeen, he was selected for officer training and was commissioned into the Welch Regiment. Stationed in Berlin for three years he witnessed the Wall being built, undertook border patrols and once being taken hostage at gunpoint by East German Police. As this book reveals, Albert Speer, who befriended him, taught him German to interpreter level. He met international leaders including Kennedy and Khrushchev.


After leaving the Army he joined Kent Police achieving high rank. His hobbies included mountaineering and he and two friends successfully climbed the Eiger north wall. In 1984 he led an armed police team to quell a violent mutiny on a tanker in the English Channel.


A qualified clinical psychologist, he has over twenty published titles, many with Pen and Sword including Forgotten Battles of the Zulu War (shortly to be re-issued)

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