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Mademoiselle Miss: Letters from a First World War Nurse at an Army Hospital Near the Marne

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Letters from an American girl who served with the rank of lieutenant, at a French army hospital near the trenches of the Marne. She was known as `Mademoiselle Miss' and `la petite mere' and she lovingly described her patients as `her children'. She says: "At Verdun three hundred men came in one night, in such a condition as beggars description... We've never had such a rus Letters from an American girl who served with the rank of lieutenant, at a French army hospital near the trenches of the Marne. She was known as `Mademoiselle Miss' and `la petite mere' and she lovingly described her patients as `her children'. She says: "At Verdun three hundred men came in one night, in such a condition as beggars description... We've never had such a rush as this, and the Ambulance was quite demoralized. Usually the rough filth of the trenches is removed in the dépouillage, but on that night there was no time for such daintiness, and the soldiers were dumped right into their beds with all manner of blood and mud caked to their shivering bodies. Imagine my despair over my clean sheets, so hard to come by! But such despair was too trivial, beside the horrors one was powerless to cope with. "Here on the front it isn't just a mere nurse that is required; send the finest, most versatile woman that America or any other country can produce. To be ideally adapted to the post she should combine a glacial calm with the unfailing gayety of springtime, and a sense of humor always; she should possess the powers of construction and invention, a touch as light as a watchmaker's, and strength to carry a man alone. Combining tremendous initiative with excessive caution, firmness with tenderness, and authority with courtesy, and fearlessness with awe, she ought to be a psychologist, and deeply learned in the profession, and ready to read the riot act . "You would sicken with fright if you saw the operations that a nurse is called upon to perform—the putting in of drains, washing wounds so huge and ghastly as to make one marvel at the soldiers' endurance, the digging about for bits of shrapnel. We discharge our patients as fast as we can, and bury dozens a week. It is all like a weird dream, laughter and blood and death and funny episodes, and sublime also, all under the autumn stars. "When my little patient, No. 23, flung out his arms last night (he knew he was going) and said, `Goodbye, oh, my sister, my sister! Kiss me!' it took control to finish giving the last of my anti-tetanus injections a few minutes later. (I have one large needle for my whole Pavilion, and am obliged to give on an average of fifteen injections a day with it ­ and as if that were not enough, the doctor frequently asks to borrow it for another hospital.... )"


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Letters from an American girl who served with the rank of lieutenant, at a French army hospital near the trenches of the Marne. She was known as `Mademoiselle Miss' and `la petite mere' and she lovingly described her patients as `her children'. She says: "At Verdun three hundred men came in one night, in such a condition as beggars description... We've never had such a rus Letters from an American girl who served with the rank of lieutenant, at a French army hospital near the trenches of the Marne. She was known as `Mademoiselle Miss' and `la petite mere' and she lovingly described her patients as `her children'. She says: "At Verdun three hundred men came in one night, in such a condition as beggars description... We've never had such a rush as this, and the Ambulance was quite demoralized. Usually the rough filth of the trenches is removed in the dépouillage, but on that night there was no time for such daintiness, and the soldiers were dumped right into their beds with all manner of blood and mud caked to their shivering bodies. Imagine my despair over my clean sheets, so hard to come by! But such despair was too trivial, beside the horrors one was powerless to cope with. "Here on the front it isn't just a mere nurse that is required; send the finest, most versatile woman that America or any other country can produce. To be ideally adapted to the post she should combine a glacial calm with the unfailing gayety of springtime, and a sense of humor always; she should possess the powers of construction and invention, a touch as light as a watchmaker's, and strength to carry a man alone. Combining tremendous initiative with excessive caution, firmness with tenderness, and authority with courtesy, and fearlessness with awe, she ought to be a psychologist, and deeply learned in the profession, and ready to read the riot act . "You would sicken with fright if you saw the operations that a nurse is called upon to perform—the putting in of drains, washing wounds so huge and ghastly as to make one marvel at the soldiers' endurance, the digging about for bits of shrapnel. We discharge our patients as fast as we can, and bury dozens a week. It is all like a weird dream, laughter and blood and death and funny episodes, and sublime also, all under the autumn stars. "When my little patient, No. 23, flung out his arms last night (he knew he was going) and said, `Goodbye, oh, my sister, my sister! Kiss me!' it took control to finish giving the last of my anti-tetanus injections a few minutes later. (I have one large needle for my whole Pavilion, and am obliged to give on an average of fifteen injections a day with it ­ and as if that were not enough, the doctor frequently asks to borrow it for another hospital.... )"

31 review for Mademoiselle Miss: Letters from a First World War Nurse at an Army Hospital Near the Marne

  1. 4 out of 5

    John

    The writer of these letters had no idea they would ever be read in book form by the general public so they are honest. Written during WWI in France. A real tear jerker for anyone, I do not care how hard hearted you may think you are. book even softens the heart for the French.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shan Shan

    This is a well-written and useful account of the experiences of an American WWI nurse in Europe. I thought it was interesting to see how her labor was so gendered and even had these weird gendered care orientations, that soldiers would think of her as motherly and that she in turn would think of her soldiers as children. These dynamics are still apparent today in fields like nursing, where labor is seen as very gendered, but I also thought it was cool to see a snapshot of what nursing, particula This is a well-written and useful account of the experiences of an American WWI nurse in Europe. I thought it was interesting to see how her labor was so gendered and even had these weird gendered care orientations, that soldiers would think of her as motherly and that she in turn would think of her soldiers as children. These dynamics are still apparent today in fields like nursing, where labor is seen as very gendered, but I also thought it was cool to see a snapshot of what nursing, particularly military nursing, was like in that period of time. She also seemed to have this kind of bright-eyed naivete that was touching but also a little heart-breaking in the context of the tremendous loss of life and it's impact on global consciousness and perception about war. Overall, I enjoyed the book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

  4. 4 out of 5

    Wendi (BrokenBinding)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ursula Lamoureux

  6. 5 out of 5

    Meg

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diana

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rose Mary

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sundus

  12. 5 out of 5

    Vienna

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Marshall

  15. 4 out of 5

    Angélique

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eva Seyler

  17. 5 out of 5

    Colette

  18. 4 out of 5

    Claire Naden

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angel

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Trusty

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gina

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Smith

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jean Hall

  24. 4 out of 5

    ElizrdbthSpeaks

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shonna Froebel

  26. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Johnstone

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kelsee

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Weiss

  31. 5 out of 5

    libraryfacts

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