With her linen head scarf and white apron emblazoned with a red cross, the Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse, or VAD, has become a romantic emblem of the Great War. This book tells the story of the nearly 2,000 women from Canada and Newfoundland who volunteered to “do their bit” overseas and at home. Well-educated and middle-class but largely untrained, VADs were excluded from Canadian military hospitals overseas (the realm of the professional nurse) but helped solve Britain’s nursing deficit. Their struggle to secure a place at their brothers’ bedsides reveals much about the tensions surrounding amateur and professional nurses and women’s evolving role outside the home.
Linda J. Quiney is a historian and retired lecturer and serves as an affiliate with the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry at the University of British Columbia.
Linda Quiney has written a carefully researched, lively, and accessible book. Both historians and general readers will value its compelling story of a group of courageous women whose accomplishments have been largely neglected in histories of the First World War.
Linda J Quiney’s This Small Army of Women documents the Canadian and Newfoundland volunteer nurses in WW1. The book is an interesting mix of facts, figures and analysis, interspersed with personal stories of these Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses – VADs. This Small Army of Women is another good addition to the recent scholarship on the role of medical women in the war.