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Women of warGender, modernity and the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry$
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Juliette Pattinson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526145659

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526145666

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‘Here we were, girls of the twentieth century’: Active service in the First World War

‘Here we were, girls of the twentieth century’: Active service in the First World War

(p.165) 4 ‘Here we were, girls of the twentieth century’: Active service in the First World War
Women of war

Juliette Pattinson

Manchester University Press

This chapter, which utilises published and unpublished memoirs of trained medical professionals and volunteer first aiders, as well as letters and articles in the nursing and national press, addresses the collective amnesia about the FANY by restoring its nursing practice during the First World War to the historical record. It begins with an examination of the wartime role of socially elite women, foregrounding the highly modern figure of the volunteer first aider, and examines the frustrations felt by trained professionals toward these ‘mock’ nurses. It then considers as another indicator of modernity the rush to colours by such women who ignored establishment opposition and made their own way out to the front, self-financed and with little medical expertise, to set up hospitals. While much of what the FANY did was safely entrenched within established norms, the modernising context of the war afforded the FANY further opportunities to push against conventional gendered expectations, and new modes of female modernity were forged in France.

Keywords:   First World War, war work, France, nursing, volunteers

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