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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 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

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 Adrian Greaves

Dr Adrian Greaves FRGS, a former soldier and senior police officer, has devoted the last 20 years of his life to studying the Anglo-Zulu War. He is the founder of the Anglo Zulu War Historical Society, the author of numerous works including the bestselling Rorke’s Drift ( ) to which this book is a worthy companion. His books, The Curling Letters of the Zulu War, Redcoats and Zulus, Sister Janet, Who’s Who in the Anglo-Zulu War (2 volumes with Ian Knight) and David Rattray’s Guidebook to the Anglo-Zulu War Battlefield (Editor) have all been published by Pen and Sword Books Ltd.

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