Help! Help, it's cold!
Nurses, of course, had to be modest and angelic all the time. Imagine the gasps which would have been uttered by readers of The British Journal of Nursing in January 1916 when they read this article. The royal ‘we’ used by the writer may indicate that she was a matron.
“Why is it that when women leave this country they so often think it unnecessary to observe the proprieties, and sometimes we must add the decencies of civilized life? The fact is painfully brought home to us by a picture which has been published in more than one of the illustrated papers, representing a doctor in a bath lightly clad in a shirt, while round him stand a group of shameless women in pyjamas, several with their hair down their backs, guffawing and drenching their victim with water. Over the picture are the words, “Help! Help, it’s cold! The doctor is given a shower bath,” and below the note, “Outnumbered by eight to one the doctor had no chance to escape, and had, in popular parlance, to ‘go through with it.’ The nurses were without mercy or compassion, and poured cold water over him, in addition to scrubbing him with the hardest brushes. The photograph was taken in Serbia.”
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Our attention has been drawn to this disgraceful picture by several correspondents, one of whom writes: “If this photograph is genuine it is surely imperative that a public inquiry should be made by an authority in the nursing world, as to the training school responsible for such a doctor and such nurses, and Matron-in-Charge.
These nurses do not appear to have even the excuse of youth, though few young girls in the privacy of their home would indulge in such horse play or exhibit themselves in such attire, and is it possible that any qualified man would permit such behaviour on the part of his nurses?
“No wonder the French express astonishment at the un-nurselike appearance of some of our women – high-heeled shoes, white silk stockings, perfumes &C – and that our wounded are not always satisfied with the class of nurse chosen to tend them? It is a scandal that such creatures should be let loose on helpless sick and wounded and allowed to disgrace our country abroad.”
It would be interesting to know who selected and sent these women, trained or untrained, to Serbia. The pernicious interference in of unprofessional people with nursing affairs since the war began has led to more scandal than it was possible to imagine.”