Year

2014

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts - Honours

Department

School of Humanities and Social Enquiry

Abstract

The relationships formed between Australian military nurses and soldiers during the Great War played significant roles in these men and women’s lives, yet this non-professional aspect of the nurses’ experience of the war remains largely unexplored. Through relationships with the soldiers, the nurses were able to provide comfort and support to these men throughout the traumatic experience of war, often acting as temporary replacements for the absent family. The way in which these relationships operated, and the purpose they served, is examined through the various roles the nurses filled. These ranged from the romantic interest to mother, sister, confidante, moral guardian and diggeress. In examining the ways in which the nurses took on each role, it is clear that they frequently moved between them, often filling more than one at the same time. These roles were fluid, and therefore changed according to each situation and person. They were also complex, and the tendency to simplify them to meet popular expectations is addressed. By exploring the multi-faceted nature of these interactions, a more complete picture of the personal lives of the nurses is provided.

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