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In the Company of Nurses

The History of the British Army Nursing Service in the Great War

Yvonne McEwen

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The untold story of the British Army Nursing Service during The Great War

Constructed from unpublished official and unofficial documents, letters and diaries of the time, this important volume tells the much-neglected story of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) during the First World War.

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List of Figures
Book I: In the Lap of The Gods
1. Magic, Miracles and Myth – The Genesis of Military Nursing
Book II: The Wrath of the Gods
2. Did the Conflict Breed Conflict? The Politics of Caregiving 1914
3. Lies, ‘Limelighters’ and Nursing in the Land of Troy
4. The Scandal of Battles and a Battle with Scandals
5. Casualties, Consolidation, and Cameos of War
Book III: In the House of the Gods
6. - Daughter of Arête
Appendix 1
Nurses Awarded the Military Medal
Appendix 2: Nurses’ Disabilities and Pensionable Years
Appendix 3: Nursing Deaths

About the Author

Yvonne McEwen is Project Director of Scotland's War 1914-1919 at the Centre for the Study of Modern Conflict, University of Edinburgh. In 2008 she was appointed the Official Historian of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (British Army). She is the author of 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary: British and Irish Nurses in the Great War (2006) and co-editor of War, Journalism and History: War Correspondents in the Two World Wars (2012). She is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh with degrees in nursing and history. For over twenty five years she worked in the fields of trauma management, disasters and conflict and has written for the press and journals on the human cost of conflict and terrorism.


This definitive account of British nursing during the Great War and vivid conveyance of the personal experience of combat nursing is placed within the context of the war’s chaos and confusion. Dr McEwen’s international profile as one of the finest historians of women’s experience of war can only be enhanced by this opus to scholarship.

- Professor John SG Wells, Head of the School of Health Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology

Based on impeccable research, Yvonne McEwen's marvellous book contains an engrossing human story covering individual achievement, professional differences and medical advances, as well as the remarkable way in which the nursing services as a whole rose to the staggering and unprecedented challenges of the Great War.


- Keith Jeffery, Professor British History, Queen's University Belfast

McEwen’s work weaves the personal and political together, simultaneously unravelling complicated professional relationships. Her interpretation is embedded in the overarching context of women’s roles in medicine, warfare, and society. McEwen’s skilful discovery and use of primary sources amplifies the participants’ voices, making this work authoritative, authentic and absolutely fascinating.

- Joanne Murray, The Legacy Center, Drexel University College of Medicine