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I wonder how many of you have been following this ABC series on a Sunday night. As part of the year long commemoration of WWI leading up to the centenary of Gallipoli landings, it was with great anticipation that we both tuned into the first episode a couple of weeks ago. Though there were some good moments looking at how the nurses coped with their first experience of the casualties arriving in huge numbers to a Cairo military hospital, overall we both came away with the feeling we’d been watching a bit of a ‘soapy’!
There was great emphasis put on romance/social side which whilst I am sure happened (and you’d need something to take your mind off the war), took away from what we both thought would be the focus of the story – how did nurses transplanted from the relative comfort of Australian hospitals cope in a tough wartime environment. In fact Sally thought she might give the rest of the series a miss, so disappointed was she at the direction the series seemed to be taking. Sally has done a great deal of reading on the nurses in wartime, particularly WWI, so was much less forgiving of the portrayal. I, on the other hand, was prepared to tune in again last Sunday and give it one more chance. The scene setting, tours around the pyramids and building of the first episode had given way to a much more gritty picture with a group of nurses being sent to the island of Lemnos (piped up the beach with bagpipes – where else would you see that!) where they had to set up a hospital virtually from scratch and receive overwhelming numbers of wounded soldiers; having to fight for the provision of water and the basics of first aid equipment. The tearing off of their petticoats to make bandages showed the nurses to be resourceful and they also showed the risks to their own health from dysentery and other tropical diseases, which actually took the life of one of their group.
Despite the war time environment, there was no escape from some of the arcane cultural mores that the English nurses brought with them – one of them snootily commenting that as the Australian nurses were only army reservists, not ‘proper’ army, they were not really entitled to wear the red cape! You would think there would be other things to think about! But interesting nonetheless to chuckle at such customs!
So let’s see where it takes us over the next few weeks……. What do you think of the series so far??