Photograph of a British Red Cross nurse and wounded soldier painting the outside of a hospital

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The black and white photograph shows a First World War nurse in British Red Cross Uniform and an injured soldier painting the outside of a hospital. The nurse sits on a narrow wooden beam, her right hand carefully dipping a brush in paint. She is assisted by a soldier who seems to have one of his arms bandaged. Although wounded, the man appears to be relaxed and gives a warm smile for the camera.

I was particularly drawn to this photograph because it reminds us of the hard work undertaken by the British Red Cross nurses during the First World War. In addition to caring for a large number of sick and wounded soldiers, they organised and managed auxiliary hospitals throughout Britain, got involved in running first aid posts and helped the search for missing people. As men joined the armed forces, the majority of Voluntary Aid Detachments were made up of women. This photo illustrates beautifully their hands-on efforts to rehabilitate the wounded, as well as the dynamic role they played in maintaining the medical aid infrastructure.

Audio recording by Andra Paun (Volunteer), Edinburgh.
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