Thursday, 27 June 2013

Your Country Needs You...

Dorothea's War by Dorothea Crewsdon

In my stack of books from the library were two more of my weaknesses - published diaries from people serving in World War One.

The first was from a horse-mad doctor who signed up at the out break of war and served in France throughout the war.  Henry Owens' family came from Long Stratton here in Norfolk and I had high hopes for the book but sadly I found the detail too sparse. While there is no doubt that Henry was a brave man - he served with his units in the trenches and didn't take the safer option of working in the hospitals behind the lines - I didn't find anything to connect with in his story.

The second book was far more to my taste and the tale of another brave person.

Dorothea trained as a VAD before the out break of WW1 and once war was declared, along with a friend, she volunteered for overseas service. From autumn 1914 until spring 1919 Dorothea worked in hospitals behind the lines in Northern France, she nursed the wounded and those out of the fighting due to illness and rarely returned to the UK on leave through the 4 1/2 years.  Towards the end of the war the hospital she served in was subjected to air raids and her brave actions (and injury) lead to a medal.

Despite surviving the diseases of war, air raids and the Spanish Influenza there sadly isn't a happy ending to the book - this isn't a spoiler it is mentioned in the introduction - and by the end I had a huge lump in my throat. Dorothea's writing style, anecdotes and drawings really made her live and I felt like I was reading about a friend.

I'm sure that with next year being the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War there will be many books published on the subject - all I can hope is that I have time to read them, and that they are of the quality of Dorothea's War.

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