women; and here they differ from male narratives. While the
writings of men tell of being led up to the war front and held there
either to survive or to be dragged into and destroyed by the warmachine, for those female writers not attached to ‘official’ services,
flight was possible and could occur at almost any time. Memoirs such
as Violetta Thurstan’s Field Hospital and Flying Column have this tone.
They are about freedom, not captivity. Nurses who avoided ‘official’
enlistment, and offered their services, instead, to ‘freelance’ hospital
units or to Red Cross
, her brother, and two close friends –
it was also written for those women who had served in wartime, to
ensure that the female voice would be heard, and that one particular
feminine perspective would be understood.
Enid Bagnold: military medicine as part
of the ‘warmachine’
If some wartime nurse writers may be viewed as ‘heretics’ – as individuals who attacked the received wisdom of their day – then Enid
Bagnold is perhaps one of the most skilful and least openly aggressive
of these. Her soft irony and quiet observations evoke a more muted
form of horrified
the insult of our
curiosity and the curse of our purpose, the purpose to remake him.’66
The scenario is not only reminiscent of rape – full of what Trudi Tate
refers to as ‘eroticised horror’67 – it is also an affront against humanity
‘en masse’: the repair of one small element of a larger warmachine,
the purpose of which is not to restore a human being but, rather, to
remake a component. What is most disturbing is the patients’ gratitude: ‘When we hurt them they try not to cry out, not wishing to hurt
our feelings. And often they apologise for dying.’68
’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 62–3.
10 T’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 66–7.
11 T’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 69.
12 Arthur Gleason and Helen Hayes Gleason, Golden Lads: A Thrilling
Account of How the Invading WarMachine Crushed Belgium (New York: A.
L. Burt, 1916).
13 T’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 78–9.
14 Baroness de T’Serclaes, MS diary; 9029-2, Imperial War Museum, London.
15 T’Serclaes, Flanders and Other Fields: 63–4.
16 Claire Tylee: The Great War and Women’s Consciousness: Images of Militarism
and Womanhood in