Military Nurses in WWI Research Paper

Military Nurses in WWI
An examination of the role of women as military nurses in WWI.
# 50393 | 3,650 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2002 | CA

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This paper observes the changing role of women in society, specifically in Canada, as a result of World War I. It explains that women's roles as military nurses in The Great War were quite contradictory to conventional women's roles. The paper details the way that this specific duty in the war helped open doors to other advances for women in Canadian society, in particular, and the world, in general.

From the Paper:

"As military nurses in The Great War, Canadian women took on many tasks and roles, some familiar, some new; however, all of these tasks and roles would be carried out in a distinctively non - traditional setting. These passages from the diaries of Ella Mae Bongard and Clare Gass, two Canadian nurses whom served overseas in The Great War, serve the purpose of bringing forth the general role of the nurses in World War one. Nurses were generally responsible for hundreds of patients each day, each one a totally unique case. Nurses were responsible for keeping the soldier's spirits up, repairing the soldier physically, repairing enemy prisoners of war, and essentially, watching young men die, among other various lesser tasks. As is obvious, the nurses were faced with the grim, grotesque realities of war and the realization that their countrymen were being killed and wounded in epic proportions. Upon undertaking such a multitude of tasks one would assume that these nurses were quite competent, strong individuals, broken free of all societal gender barriers but historians tend to disagree over the issue of whether or not gender stereotypes were effectively challenged or actually solidified during the war. According to Linda Quiney, women nurses cared not about breaking gender stereotypes but rather "they came to serve the men and they were proud of their service,"3 in reference to the attitudes of young women nurses in The Great War. This comment would seem to suggest that the nurses themselves viewed their experiences in the war as simply a way to support the male population, the same way it has traditionally been. The soldiers who were brought into the hospitals and nursing stations during the war were quite often very sick, mortally wounded, demoralized, and even quite lonely as one might expect. According to Mann, the nurses "displayed a female version of esprit-de-corps. Friendship, humorous escapades - whether in work or play the nurses combined seriousness of purpose with sheer delight."4 In saying this, Mann intends to stress the fact that the nurses not only served to repair the ailing soldiers physically, but mentally as well. Also according to Mann, soldiers still viewed the nurses overseas as "the protected"5 and in return for physical protection the army expects quick repairs of all its soldiers.6 From this perspective, one would be led to believe that women were, indeed, supporting the traditional stereotypes of a gender distinct society in which women carried out "maternal" tasks such as healing and nourishing and the men took upon the duties of providing for and defending his family. In Mann's intro to Clare Gass' diary she specifically states several duties that Gass is responsible for in the hospital: making beds, stocking the kitchen, changing bandages/gauzes, entertaining patients, etc. In short, the nurses were responsible for sustaining the spirit of the men "with a smile, a pat, a cig., treat, or chat." "

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APA Format

Military Nurses in WWI (2004, April 13) Retrieved December 08, 2022, from

MLA Format

"Military Nurses in WWI" 13 April 2004. Web. 08 December. 2022. <>