Dorothy Field - Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Dorothy Field was one of the first women who volunteered to work overseas as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. She tended wounded from the Somme throughout the Battle.

    Dorothy joined the Voluntary Aid Detachments of the British Red Cross Society before the First World War. In spring 1915 she went to France and was posted first to No.4 General Hospital at Versailles and then to No.10 General Hospital in Rouen. Later she went on to serve in Italy

    In small pocket diaries, she recorded brief details of what she saw and heard. On 24 June 1916, the great artillery bombardment on the Somme began, marking the start of the Battle. Even though many miles away in Rouen, Dorothy noted in her diary that she could hear the guns firing ‘very distinctly’. When the sound finally stopped on 1 July, casualties began to pour into No.10 General Hospital. The first convoy of 170 men arrived at 04.00 on 2 July. ‘The “going over the top” results’, Dorothy wrote. ‘Practically all surgicals.’ Over the next 48 hours, four convoys of wounded arrived, while two of stabilised patients left for other hospitals in France or Britain. It was 13 July before Dorothy was able to rest.

    Over the following weeks the steady arrival of wounded men charted the course of the Battle. In July Dorothy nursed her first Australian casualties. A few weeks later she met soldiers from New Zealand and towards the end of September men from Canada.

    With patients frequently dying from wounds, it was a tiring and, at times, depressing experience. But like the soldiers at the front, the hospital staff took their mind off the war with theatrical entertainments during quiet periods.

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