Keynote Speaker, England 2020

Dr. Jane Brooks RN
Embattled Britain: Nursing a Nation Under Fire, 1940-1945



The “phoney war” ended for the people of Britain on 7 September 1940. On this date, the Home Front, became a war zone as the Luftwaffe attacked London, Manchester, Coventry in the Midlands and the industrial North East of England. The health workers of Britain faced an unprecedented call for their services at first aid posts and in hospitals. As student nurses comprised a major part of the hospital nursing staff, even the most junior were called upon to care for the bombed, the maimed and the distraught.

The paper examines the work of those nurses and their medical colleagues in caring for a nation under fire, including when it was nurses themselves who were bombed. As young, single women their deaths subverted the trope that men went to war to save the womenfolk.