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Old magazines reveal brave tales of First World War nursing

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A retired nurse from the West Midlands has had something special in his loft for the past 30 years.

Ian Payne, from Walsall, has been the custodian of 25 copies of The War Illustrated magazine, which date back to 1915-16.

Given to Mr Payne by his grandmother in the 1980s, the magazines record events from the First World War as they happened.

The magazines feature articles on a group of UK nurses, including one Mrs St. Clair Stobart, who helped treat wounded Serbian soldiers fighting in the Balkans and a crèche for the children of munitions workers in Birmingham, run by a matron referred to as Nurse Reynolds.

More controversially, perhaps, there are also illustrations imagining the death of Edith Cavell, the nurse executed for helping allied soldiers escape German captivity in occupied Belgium, and also one of a nurse leading troops into battle.  

The latter picture refers to an article about a 17-year-old French woman, named as Mademoiselle Moreau, who not only tended injured British troops but also took part in an attack, for which she was dubbed a “real Joan of Arc”.

The same article also featured the story of a Russian nurse, named as Mira Miksailovitch Ivanoff, who “rallied” a group of soldiers she was with “so splendidly” that they fought off a German attack. Unfortunately, she was herself killed at the “moment of victory”.

Mr Payne, 51, and his wife Elizabeth kindly scanned the articles and sent them to Nursing Times. He has now given the original magazines to his local museum, the Walsall Local History Centre.


Nursing during WWI

The death of Edith Cavell at the hands of the Germans


Nursing during WWI

Mademoiselle Moreau, a young French woman dubbed the “real Joan of Arc”


Nursing during WWI

UK nurses, including Mrs St. Clair Stobart, treated wounded Serbian soldiers in the Balkans


Nursing during WWI

The story of Russian nurse Mira Miksailovitch Ivanoff


Nursing during WWI

A creche for the children of munitions workers in Birmingham, run by matron Nurse Reynolds

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