Rebecca Gill
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Accounting for compassion
British relief in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870–71
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Relief workers' accounts from the Franco-Prussian War reveal genuine concern, often at personal cost, to ameliorate the affliction of injured soldiers and of civilians wracked by siege and agricultural disruption. The British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) was inundated with donations, and offers of help on a scale surpassing even that of the Patriotic Fund in the Crimean War. NAS volunteers either offered their services to existing French or German hospitals or formed complete ambulance units under the control of the Society. NAS surgeons recruited from Netley and the London teaching hospitals were concerned especially to keep up to date with treatments for wounds inflicted by the new artillery. The Quakers, of course, balked at the possibility of making war easier, and restricted their assistance to non-combatants. The NAS portrayed was civilian and independent, free of the stultifying effects of War Office bureaucracy.

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Calculating compassion

Humanity and relief in war, Britain 1870–1914


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