Title: Guns and Brooches – Australian Army Nursing from the Boer War to the Gulf War

Author: Bassett, Jan

Condition: Near Mint

Edition: 2nd Edition

Publication Date: 1992

ISBN: 0195533801

Cover: Hard Cover with Dust Jacket – 261 pages

Comments: A short history of the Australian Army Nursing Corps.

In Guns and Brooches, the author focuses upon the some 9,000 women (and a few men) who have worked as army nurses. She explores their wartime experiences, which have ranged from nursing alone in a remote farm hut on the South African veldt during the Boer War to undergoing NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical warfare) drills on an American hospital ship during the Gulf War.

Guns and Brooches investigates the contradictions, paradoxes, and anomalies which have arisen because army nurses have been in but not of the army. Financial discrimination against them as women in a men’s organization has seen the female captain in charge of an operating theatre in Vietnam being paid less than a male corporal working with her.

Guns have replaced brooches as part of their uniforms as total war has increasingly made a mockery of the distinction between non-combatants and combatants, a meaningless distinction for the nurses machine-gunned on Banka Island during the Second World War.

The other side of women and children first seems at times to have been and army nurses last. Those sent to outposts of the empire, such as India during the First World War, have also had to cope with difficulties caused by deep-seated imperial tensions. Army nurses, such as the sick sisters on Lemnos shown on the cover, have paid heavy personal costs for their experiences.

Jan Bassett draws upon their words and photographs to consider the profound impact of war upon four generations of Australian women.