some of us were ready to confront danger and suffer martyrdom to the limit of endurance.
The ironies of war, I reflected sadly, were more than strange; in terms of a rational universe they were quite inexplicable. But now the universe had become irrational, and nothing was turning out as it once seemed to have been ordained.
a gangrenous leg wound, slimy and green and scarlet, with the bone laid bare-turned me sick and faint for a moment that I afterwards remembered with humiliation
They sound ludicrous enough now, these rumours, these optimisms, these assurances, to us who still wonder why, in spite of all our incompetence, we managed to "win" the War. But at the time they helped us to live. I cannot, indeed, imagine how long we should have succeeded in living without them.
an apprenticeship in pain, desolation and grief. Yet one of the problems of such 'apprenticeship in history'-something less often spoken about-is the issue of owning experience.
there is a frightful compromise which generates a sense of impropriety in the act of witnessing, of the nurse registering the shame of the patient at his awareness of the nurse's knowledge.
The nurse, as well as the reader, is left with a crippling sense of inadequacy.
one of the central problems of both frightful witnessing and representation: the limits of sympathy and language.
the memoirs of the nurses speak to us in a double voice: the exhilaration of service-of taking part in a man's world and actively moulding the course of history through the remaking of the soldiers-often has as its underside the trauma of the helpless witness. If moments of actual physical contact help the nurses to stake their legitimate claim on history and establish a common ground with the soldiers, the recollection of the traumatic moments also serves as faultlines within the text, marking points of ideological rupture.
there were also feelings of guilt and shame resulting from the involvement, voluntary or involuntary, in the nationalist and patriarchal war machine through the institution of nursing.