Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service: a study of female active service during the First World War

Bentley, Hannah (2021) Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service: a study of female active service during the First World War. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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In August 1914, women of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service accompanied the first troops of the British Expeditionary Force to France, but the predominant story of the First World War is the experience of the combatant soldier in the trenches. This thesis seeks to re-instate the voices and perspective of the war’s active female participants – the nurses of the QAIMNS. Army nurses are seen as fulfilling a traditional, non-threatening, feminine duty and, as such, are frequently overlooked in both the historiography of the First World War and within the field of Women’s History. Using an extensive sample of army service records, this thesis identifies the background of women who enlisted to serve as professionally trained nurses with the QAIMNS, considered to be the elite military nursing service. This study places them within the context of female employment in early 20th century
Britain and investigates the power and authority of Dame Maud McCarthy as a singular example of a woman serving in a British governmental role overseas for the entirety of the First World War. Using nurses’ autograph albums, diaries and hospital gazettes, this thesis provides a fuller perspective of the complex relationships on the wards of military medical units as the female nurses carefully negotiated a male dominated world. Finally, using QAIMNS medical board records, this thesis argues that female participants of war also suffered from mental exhaustion and experienced breakdowns as a direct consequence of their war trauma and displayed symptoms akin to the male diagnoses of ‘shell shock’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2022 13:12
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2022 13:12
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/85348


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