British POW medics’ memoirs of the Second World War
Carol Acton and Jane Potter
Ministry … explaining that [POWs’] experiences had caused them to be slightly unbalanced.
Not too much was to be expected of us and great patience had to be exercised. The letter did not help our rehabilitation and caused most of our
relatives to view me with a kind of compassionate apprehension.’126 As
Allport suggests: ‘Perhaps the POW experience was so alienating because
it defied the national narrative of victory.’127 Thus MacCarthy was right to
use the plural pronoun when he declared, ‘Now, with some reluctance, we
faced life again’.128 Adams described cominghome
treatment of patients see R.
Bivins, ‘Coming “home” to (post) colonial medicine: Treating tropical
bodies in post-war Britain, Social History of Medicine, 26:1 (2013) ’. Bivins
further explores the interactions between the development of the NHS,
imperial legacies and migrant patients in Contagious Communities.
3 However, see Jones & Snow, Against the Odds, pp. 6–22.
4 E. W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Vintage Books, 1994), pp.
5 Bivins, ‘Coming “home”’.
Empire, migration and the NHS83
6 See E. Consterdine, ‘Community versus
Workplace and suburban neurosis in the interwar period
She cooked a desultory dinner of one course; walked up and down the shopping street three or four afternoons a week with the baby strapped into the pram, the elder child dragging beside her; went to the park once a week, speaking to no one and cominghome early because the elder child was fretful: knew no one except for a passing acquaintance with the grocer's wife round the corner, and her in-laws, with whom she was on the defensive and did not find herself in sympathy. 73
Times (1 December
89 Anonymous, ‘Editorial: Coming home – Army nurses think of demobilisation’, Nursing Times (16 February 1946): 127.
90 Anonymous, ‘Editorial: Nursing goes forward’, Nursing Times (17 November
1945): 751. Italics in the original.
91 Anonymous, ‘Editorial: For the good of all’, 41–2.
92 Starns, Nurses at War, 150.
93 Karen Flynn, ‘Proletarianization, professionalization and Caribbean immigrant nurses’, Canadian Woman Studies 18, 1 (1998): 57–60; Julia Hallam,
Nursing the Image: Media, Culture and Professional Identity (London
-parish paupers were often eager to emphasise their
belonging by coming ‘home’ periodically as we saw above) or sequentially, as did Olive Barber. It seems unlikely that their rhetorical and
strategic approaches would have been very different in either forum.
By the same token, some of those applying to vestries did so by note or
advocate, stressing that they were too ill to attend in person, a common
enough claim among out-parish letter writers as well. Moreover, both
in- and out-parish paupers faced two shared conundrums – how to
navigate entitlement in a system where there
admits trying ‘to put on a facade of happiness’.58 While
Holley is never wounded in spite of spending six months in a dangerous
combat environment, he writes to Sondra towards the end of his tour that
he ‘may not have a Purple Heart … but I am cominghome with a bruised
and broken heart’.59 The comparison with Wilfred Owen’s ‘foreheads of
Working in a world of hurt
men have bled where no wounds were’ is inevitable here. Holley’s private
acknowledgement to his wife, so astutely captured in his image of feeling
‘held together by Scotch Tape’, reveals the wounds
the environment precipitates a breakdown for Captain
Marie: ‘I broke down. I never cried so much in my life. After I left the
patient I fell apart … everything here was normal … That’s when I said
to myself, “Nobody knows what’s going on over there. Nobody knows all
the pain that we have, all the sadness, all the loneliness, all the misery.” ’75
And later: ‘I was glad about cominghome. But when you come home it’s
like the whole world doesn’t see what’s going on over there.’76
In spite of what would appear to be a greater recognition on the part of
veterans and the
little is known. It is suggested that soldiers cominghome on
leave may have brought it from the front. But it first appeared in Spain,
and one has not heard that it was prevalent in France, though a far-
fetched explanation of the present German inactivity on the Western
front is the suggestion that the enemy is suffering from influenza.
Others blame the war for the outbreak, and many with more show of
T he flu : a news perspective
reason, attribute it to the general food scarcity and the short commons
to which all have to submit with the subsequent
101 Ibid .
102 Alan Allport, Demobbed: ComingHome after the Second World War (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 196. Allport suggests that the War Office was keen to define psychological casualties as victims of pre-existing constitutional weakness rather than of military service in order to deny thousands of war pension claims.
103 Roffey Park Institute Ltd, ‘Courses at Roffey Park’.
104 NCRIW, ‘Record of Two Years’ Progress’. £5 per week was a ‘respectable working
emergence and policy convergence’.
157 A. Hardy, ‘Beriberi, Vitamin B1 and world food policy, 1925–1970’, Medical History , 39:1 (1995), 61–77. Historically, such movements were also tied with colonial medicine: R. Bivins, ‘Coming “home” to (post)colonial medicine: treating tropical bodies in post-war Britain’, Social History of Medicine , 26:1 (2013), 1–20. See also Sheard, The Passionate Economist .
158 Day et al., A Comparative US – UK Study of Guidelines .
159 Private, direct-pay healthcare