Memorias de Guerra

Mucha gente se unió a los Voluntary Aid Detachment para ayudar con los esfuerzos de la guerra durante la Primera y Segunda Guerra Mundial. No colaboraban como soldados sino como enfermeras, mucamas, conductores, cocineras, etc. Algunos párrafos de una enfermera VAD…

The day came when my name went up on the list for transfer to the main operating theatre. This spell of duty proved to be one of the most unexpected experiences of my nursing career, not so much on account of the work as the conditions under which we worked.
We reported for duty at 7.00 a.m., and the first, very lengthy task was to wash all the walls and furniture in a mild solution of Lysol, a disinfectant guaranteed to leave our hands dry and cracked. This completed, we filled and lit the sterilisers which were large tanks of water with closely fitting lids. When eventually the water came to boiling point, we dropped in the bowls and instruments for the first operation. Equipment was very scarce so we had few spares to cover emergencies; this was a problem, as I will explain later.


After this, we collected our operating gowns. These were all the same size, made for the largest conceivable nurse both in height and belt. I am only 5 feet 2 inches tall and slight in build, so mine reached almost to the ground and had to be wrapped round me twice and tied up with a belt which also went round twice. When I had pinned up the sleeves, I took a large triangular piece of material which served as a head-covering, and was tied at the back with a lumpy knot, making sure that absolutely no hair was visible; then came the masks which were thick and hot. But the footwear was the worst part of the uniform. Rubber was scarce as it was used, I think, for making munitions. So the surgeons and theatre sisters had supplies of rubber gloves and boots, but we made do with bare hands and quite extraordinary 'boots'. These were made of thick hessian and cut out like children's Christmas stockings and seamed round in the same way. These were worn over our shoes, but it was quite impossible to flatten the lines under our feet, so to stand or walk it was necessary to turn our ankles either inwards or outwards, either procedure being very painful. We worked always until 5.00 p.m., often much later, with no break except to grab a sandwich and a cup of coffee when opportunity arose, and I felt certain that my ankles would be permanently damaged, but fortunately they recovered.
Gestapo agents
Agentes de Gestapo
capturados, 1944
Operating lists were long and cases varied, so one surgeon followed another with a break just long enough for us to prepare a new cart. The surgeons were a random collection of people, some were extremely efficient, others had been retired for years and came back to help the war effort. We thought they were the most bad tempered and ill-mannered group we had ever encountered, but in retrospect, I realize that they were under extreme pressure… (Párrafos de People´s War. Traducción propia)

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Recursos
Writing the War, Jessie Traill. Don´t miss it, excellent video!

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