Total war tends to create a situation that falls back on established social and cultural discourses and institutional arrangements at the same time that it provides the opportunity for a shifting and renegotiation of these arrangements. This book explores how the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) drew upon, and/or subverted cultural mythologies to make sense of their wartime service. It focuses on this renegotiation of gender and examines seven key themes implicit in this process. The first theme concerns the ways women's military organizations utilized traditional notions of genteel femininity and its accompanying nurturance, cheerfulness and devotion in their promise of service, yet went beyond the parameters of such cultural mythologies. The second focuses on the gendering of military heroism. The third theme addresses the context of female military service in terms of the preparation women received, the opportunities they were given and the risks they took, and focuses on their coping behaviours. Theme four focuses specifically on women's transgression into the masculine terrain of driving and mechanics and shares the ways they developed skills and competencies previously off-limits for women. Such transgressions almost invariably led to women having to negotiate masculine authority and develop skills in autonomy, independence and assertiveness - the focus of theme five. The last two themes discussed in the book address the integration and consolidation of women's organizations as the war progressed and their service became indispensable.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on the wartime renegotiations of gender. It explores the everyday lives of a group of British women volunteers named the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) who found themselves 'straight out of Edwardian drawing rooms into the manifold horrors of the First World War'. The book historicizes the FANY Corps' beginnings in social and cultural changes at the turn of the century that encouraged women's patriotic call to service amidst a growing nationalist and militarist discourse. It analyses the service and adventures of Grace Ashley-Smith, who worked as a FANY in Belgium in the autumn of 1914. The book examines the first collective FANY war service in Calais and their work with the Belgians at the Lamarck Hospital during late 1914 through 1915.
Prior to the First World War, while most wounded soldiers were cared for by male orderlies, paid female nurses were sometimes attached to military services and army wives did their share of nursing. This chapter explores the origins of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) and historicizes their founding in the social and cultural forces of the day. Given the ideals associated with Edwardian womanhood, it made sense that girls might want to escape the constraints of the normative femininity. Feminine virtues were broadened from the nurturance and management of the family, household and local community to society at large and the traits associated with femininity were translated into a call for public service. After the reorganization in 1910 and the consolidation of the Corps, the weekend and more extended summer camps became increasingly important as training sites and recruitment endeavours.
This chapter explores Grace Ashley-Smith's work as a First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) in Belgium during September and October 1914, and highlights the key theme in the negotiation of gender relations in war. It suggests the ways the sentimental, romantic genre associated with the 'Great War Rhetoric' and women's literary heritage allowed Ashley-Smith the opportunity develop a female heroism. Ashley-Smith's accounts of her first months in Belgian as a FANY are recorded in Nursing Adventures: A FANY in France. Most women attempted to blend old romantic traditions with more modernist approaches and their writing often illustrates what Angela K. The experience saw Ashley-Smith begin as bedside heroine, putting her on a footing with men in terms of the involvement with suffering, and graduates to battlefront heroine where she more actively risked the dangers of war and developed her own notion of personal heroism.
FANY with the Belgians at Lamarck Hospital 1914–15
Grace Ashley-Smith had managed to make practical arrangements through her contacts in Belgium to provide nursing and ambulance support for the Belgian Army in Calais. This chapter focuses on the developments and highlights the ways the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) were able to take opportunities and risks that stretched them and helped them cope with the labours of the First World War. It shares the story of the first FANY working for the Belgians at Lamarck Hospital from 1914-1915. The FANY at Lamarck came close to the firing line through their work at a Regimental Aid Post associated with the battalion doctors of the Belgian Army. Ashley-Smith nonetheless set out with her colleagues to find an appropriate site and settled upon a church hall at St Ingilvert. The big opportunity for the FANY was the running of a canteen for Belgian convalescents at Camp du Ruchard.
This chapter explores the gender renegotiations by the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) as they threw themselves into the manly tasks of driving and mechanics. Evadne Price's brilliant modernist representation of the war from women's experiences underscores the silences in the FANY texts. The Royal Army Medical Corps was to be employed or commissioned by the British Red Cross Society (BRCS) to provide transport for the British sick and wounded at Calais. The chapter focuses on 1916 and features the story of FANY Unit 3 driving for the British Army. It records their activities and experiences and in particular examines their work in transport and mechanics that subverted traditional mythologies about femininity. Of all the FANY writings, the few accounts penned by Unit 3's Second-in-Command Muriel Thompson provide the bluntest descriptions of the geography of hell.
The Belgian convoy and Port à Binson Priory Hospital 1917
This chapter features First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) service with two new projects as well as their plans for new expansion. The first project was the establishment of an ambulance convoy in Calais for the Belgians, known as the Corps de Transport Militaire Belge, FANY Unit 5. The second project was a new hospital for the French at Port à Binson that became known as L'Hôpital Auxiliaire 76 and took over the old Lamark name FANY Unit 1. The chaos among the French troops in early summer caused a lull in casualties and no big convoys of troops arrived at Binson until a very large contingent arrived from Verdun in August. The chapter explores the concept of authority in terms of both power within the organization and the relationship of women to masculine authority in the context of war.
The French units and the convoy at St Omer 1917–18
This chapter explores the accomplishments of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) driving for the French and those working in the new British convoy at St Omer. The main problem the FANY encountered was insubordination from French mechanics who refused to work in the open air, neglected the cars and most likely resented working for women. 'Strenuous' described work for all French units during the Spring of 1918, as drivers evacuated hospitals, dealt with civilian casualties and endured nightly air raids. The chapter focuses on the competence and indispensability of the FANY as fully militarized women operating independently with authority in masculine space. Refusing to subordinate their experiences to the masculine stories of war, the FANY created narratives from the feminine fabric of their lives and became petticoat warriors: fully militarized women whose experiences were represented through the prism of traditional femininity.
This chapter highlights the experiences of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) in the year following the Armistice. It focuses on the development of solidarity and friendship that encouraged a shared feminine identity. The chapter looks back at the various FANY units in service during the war and discusses the ways the FANY constructed and enjoyed the esprit de corps. The FANY working for the British in Calais with Unit 3 celebrated the Armistice early as word ran through Calais on 10 November that peace had been signed. In Grace McDougall's absence, Mary Baxter-Ellis, adjutant and second-in-command with the Belgian convoy, wrote the final demobilization report for the Belgian FANY. McDougall's Corps de Transport attached to the Belgian Army, was the first to cross back into Belgium when the Germans left Bruges in October 1918.
This chapter traces the lives of some of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) after the war and summarizes the organizational development of the FANY through the Second World War. By the 1970s many of the First World War FANY had died. When Baxter-Ellis resigned after the Second World War she lived with her partner 'Tony' Kingston Walker. Grace McDougall inquired directly with the FANY-Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) about renewing her service commitment and was told she was over age. Perhaps motivated by Enid Bagnold's The Happy Foreigner, the novel begins with the demobilization of a beautiful 'khaki-clad English girl' who is identified as a FANY and named Marion O'Hea. The FANY were to be involved in all motor driving companies for the Army and the Women's Legion was to work with the Royal Air Force.