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Very few diaries or accounts of nursing in the First World War have survived, and if they did, many were unpublished, or retained by family members. No doubt there are a fair few lurking in various archives
Thanks to the nephew of Dorothea Crewdson, Richard Crewdson, who discovered and edited his aunt’s diaries, we now have the pleasure of reading them. There is much that can be learned from reading this diary. Written by a young nurse, who started the diary as a newly trained Red Cross VAD in 1915; the diary chronicles her time during the subsequent years of the First World War, both at work and off duty. Written in an energetic, spirited and interesting way by someone who obviously had a good sense of humour. The diary also includes Dorothea’s own drawings.
Sadly Dorothea died in March 1919 after contracting peritonitis, just before she was due to return home to England, which makes the diary an even more poignant read, knowing that as a reader you are in fact reading about the last events of a young girl’s life. A valuable contribution to the social history of those times and a book that should be on the school curriculum.