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THE INSIGHTFUL DIARY OF A WARTIME NURSE!
on 12 June 2014
A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime by Mary Morris is an extraordinary eyewitness account of some of the most public events of the late twentieth century. Through her wartime daily entries, Mary brings the past with the immediacy of the present and enabled the present-day generation to relive the horrors of World War II.
Described by her daughter, Kathy Lowe, as a person with a rebellious streak, bloody-minded determination and great sense of humor in the Postscript of the book, it was Mary Morris’ desire to be a nurse which led her to Britain in August 1939 at the age of 18. She joined as a nurse probationer at Guy’s Hospital in London but within a week Britain was at war. Though it is not allowed for those on active duties to keep diaries, Mary kept one, and is being published to coincide with the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the start of the Battle of Normandy.
Mary’s diary begins on 31st May 1940 when her routine duty at Kent and Sussex hospital is disturbed by the arrival of casualties from Dunkirk. The diary will take the reader through the London Blitz, her journey to Normandy with the Army Nursing Corps in June 1944 and her wards of wounded in France and Belgium.
The contents of the book include:
1. ‘The real war started for me today’ Training at the Kent and Sussex Hospital, Tunbridge Wells 31 May 1940– 26 October 1942
2. ‘What a night!’ Fever nursing, Brook Hospital, Woolwich 11 February 1943– 28 May 1944
3. ‘In the QAs at last’ Normandy and beyond 5 June 1944– 23 September 1944
4. ‘Rushed off our feet’ Belgium 24 September 1944– 8 May 1945
5. ‘We must get used to saying good-bye’ Aftermath 11 May 1945– 8 May 1946
6. ‘It is good to be out of khaki’ Germany 12 May 1946– 19 September 1947
Mary’s diary is insightful and beautifully captures the mood of the time. It is also funny and witty, vividly describing how the soldiers managed to find time to have fun, dancing and drinking champagne, often into the early morning hours. Mary Morris married an officer four years her junior and settled down in England after the war, and they had four children. It is sad that she didn’t live long enough to see the publication of her diary. She died in 1997, but her wartime contributions and memory will live on with this publication which has been proficiently edited by Carol Acton.