Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

First Aid Post

Please excuse the punning title; I’m afraid I found it hard to resist! This ‘post’ is mostly about ‘First Aid’ and the Red Cross in WW2, so if you want to see what a ‘First Aid Post’ looked like then, click here.


When I saw the nurse in Alan’s photo-prompt for this week’s Sepia Saturday, I knew I had just the picture. This is my Mum (back, right), aged about nineteen or twenty, in 1939/40 when she was in the Red Cross detachment of Boots Co.Ltd, Nottingham. She volunteered with some of her friends from the office and they would work at the local Nottingham hospitals on weekend mornings; the Children’s on Saturday and the General on Sunday.


This is one of Mum’s many certificates, all beautifully engraved in exactly the same way. She first passed the course in 1939 and then, as the certificate states, was re-examined a year later to make sure that she was still proficient. Apparently she practised her bandaging techniques on my grandmother! She also had a Home Nursing certificate, and one for Anti-Gas Training. The latter was deemed necessary as throughout the 1930s the Red Cross was gearing up for war. Mum also attended courses, lectures and demonstrations and then had to show that she had absorbed all the knowledge and techniques. The lectures were given by Dr.Swann and apparently all the girls were half in love with him, as he was so handsome and distinguished looking. Mum obviously didn’t let it distract her too much; I hope the good doctor was able to concentrate with several pairs of adoring eyes watching his demonstrations!

In this picture Mum is the middle, and she’s not paying attention to the cameraman, but is chatting to her friend Sybil instead, probably about the many charms of Dr Swann.This link will take you to the Flickr gallery where you can see some of the Red Cross volunteers in action during the war. This link will take you to a short clip on British Pathe, from 1939, about the same time as Mum’s photo was taken. The clip is accompanied by a jaunty commentary and equally jolly music which seemed to jar somewhat when the voiceover warned that  ‘many thousands would go through much physical suffering’ in the months or years ahead.

Mum’s shirt was pale blue and she also recalls that the headress was very difficult to keep in place without hairgrips (visible in the photo). When I was a little girl, she made me an outfit just like the one in the picture, sewing a red ribbon cross onto a white handkerchief for the bib of the apron. I remember I had a case with toy medical instruments in it. 

There’s no picture of me putting it to use, but I did find one of my daughter, carrying on the family tradition. Here she is around 1982. Note the grey socks and gold slippers, which I don’t think were regulation in 1982.

Join me on my Ward Rounds to see what other Sepia Saturday  participants have come up with from the prompt below. “Nurse! The Screens!”






21 comments:

  1. Fine post Nell. I enjoyed the links as well.But why is it now that when I see a nurse in uniform my blood pressure rises?

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  2. These are really great pictures of nurses who helped others. Your mom looks pleased to be a part of this group. Granddaughter looks great too.

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  3. Oh what a lovely tribute to one of our finest trades....as a child already I just knew how cool it would be to become a nurse...your last photo just sums up what I thought...the uniform, those cute little starchy pure white hats...the toy doctor and nurse sets back then were awesome too! Great Sepia Post again!...I am still laughing at Bob's comment though...love his humor!

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  4. Hi Nell, this is SO SWEET! I love your whole post, from your pretty Mom to your pretty girl with the regulation socks.

    My post is about my Mom too. Happy Sepia Saturday,

    Kathy M.

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  5. They all look like they would be a pleasure to have for a nurse. I was hoping to see one of you in your nurses outfit.

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  6. I had a little nurses outfit with a cape like that, such a shame that medical outfits can now include crocs. Sigh. And I miss my little upside-downy watch.

    Great photo of your mum and her colleagues, I do like the sound of the dashing Dr Swann. I'm picturing a combo of a couple of my ER favourites...

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  7. What a lovely photo of your Mum. I worked fr Boots until earlier this year. At the Nottingham site there are still by two of the meeting rooms plaques of employees who supported the war effort & their is an archive. Might be worth writing to them to see if they hold any data on her. Fabulous post.

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  8. Those are all very nice photos. The girls look really happy and the bibs on the uniform make a striking pattern on the photos.

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  9. Don't you just love seeing your mother "misbehave"? I enjoyed reading this post. The need for gas training is quite interesting to me as I had a great grand uncle who was gassed during WWI and never fully recovered. He spent his last years in a veterans hospital. Thank goodness for women like your mom who chose nursing.

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  10. Excellent photos, and your narrative adds spice to it all, especially your mom's memory of the crush on Swann. And your daughter chose well: gold slippers are much more fun than those white chunky nurse shoes.

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  11. Dr Swann! What s beautiful name for a heartthrob. They all look so innocent, happy and keen. I'd imagine the experiences and training they had won't ever leave them. I always wanted to be a nurse. Not so sure now though.

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  12. Happy looking bunch of nurses, from the oldest to the youngest! Thanks! ♥

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  13. What A Happy Crew! Lucky Dr Swann!

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  14. I had a nurses uniform when I was little too! I suppose most of us did in those days. I wonder if it's still popular now when nurses uniforms aren't so distinctive. I loved that red cross.

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  15. Your mum looks particularly happy with her Red Cross colleagues. I don't think Matron would have approved of the gold slippers though :-) Jo

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  16. Paging Dr. Swann, Dr. Swann to emergency! We have a number of young women addled and unable to function...

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  17. Going onto the ward has seldom been more enjoyable. By now I know there is a beautifully crafted post on the way as soon as your name appears on the list. And once more, our posts are almost a matching pair : both featuring medical groups and certificates.

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  18. So, they swooned over Swann!?!...
    Typical...
    Things have not changed that much.
    Hospital romances still happen.
    It's human nature, I guess...
    ;)~
    HUGZ

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  19. Great photos and very interesting insight into your Mum's past. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. Thanks a lot for sharing such an interesting post. The purpose of first-aid is always to maintain the injured and or ill person alive. Reducing the condition of the ill or injured from deteriorating really is a key element of First aid training.
    Scissor lift training toronto

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  21. i use to be in the red cross for many years still have my uniform

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