Farmborough, Florence (IWM interview)
British civilian Red Cross nurse served with Russian 10th Field Surgical Otryad on Eastern Front, 1914-1916
REEL 1 Background in Buckinghamshire, 1887-1906: family; early desire to travel. Aspect of period working as governess near Stanislau, Galicia, Austro-Hungary, 1906-1908: climbing and riding in Carpathian mountains; social life. Aspect of period working as governess in Russia, 1908-1914: obtaining position as governess in Kiev; annual ceremony of Blessing of the Waters on River Dneipr, Kiev on 6 January. REEL 2 Continues: welcoming attitude towards English; becoming governess to doctor's family in Moscow 1910; Russian Easter celebrations; having to register with police; informality of position as governess with Ousov family; learning Russian language; form of addressing names in Russian. REEL 3 Continues: conventions of addressing individuals in Russian; addressing other nurses and patients; acceptance into Russian families; treatment and nature of Russian domestic staff; illiteracy of Russian country people as compared with townsfolk; her position in Ousov household; women's position in Russian society. REEL 4 Continues: lack of pre-war medical experience; unawareness of pre-war Russian politics; attitude of Russian friends towards Imperial family; appreciation of Russian literature; hearing Prince Kroptkin talk; veracity of pre-Revolution literature; educated Russian society. REEL 5 Continues: dances and opera; degree of awareness of poverty in Russia; love of Russian countryside and people. Recollections of period as Red Cross nurse with 10th Field Surgical Otryad on Eastern Front, 1914-1916: no idea of approach of war; reaction to its outbreak; decision to remain in Russia and undertake medical training; confidence in Allies; attitude towards German nation and individuals. REEL 6 Continues: opinion of German character; contrast of atrocity and bravery in wartime; unity of Russians against German enemy; lack of awareness of anti-war movement in Russia; role of male hospital orderlies; illiteracy and ignorance of young army recruits; recruits' youthfulness and kind treatment by older soldiers. REEL 7 Continues: lack of knowledge about warfare; first experience of dead person; importance of chaplain to troops; importance of Red Cross personnel quickly distinguishing salavable from non-salvable cases; recognising those who would die and soldiers' attitude towards their own deaths; heart stimulation and pain alleviating injections. REEL 8 Continues: role of Zemstvo in ensuring copious medical supplies throughout war; procedure for treatment of wounded at field dressing station; later availability of motorised ambulances; training for Red Cross qualification; illiteracy in pre-Revolution Russia and limitations of peasants' lingual abilities; hard and restricted living conditions of pre-Revolution peasants; Russian aristocracy attitude towards peasants. REEL 9 Continues: benevolence of aristocracy towards peasants; extent of illiteracy problem in pre-Revolution Russia; variety of injuries dealt with by dressing station; medical supplies; having to abandon seriously wounded during 1915 retreat; means of cleaning wounds and vital importance of cleansing; role of dressing station nurses and casualty numbers dealt with. REEL 10 Continues: experience rapidly acquired by nurses; operations the nurses performed; dealing with minor wounds and shell shock cases; troops' exhaustion and overcrowded conditions; difficulties of personal hygiene and laundry for medical staff; insect problem; filthy condition of wounded troops. REEL 11 Continues: high casualty rate during 1915 retreat; horror at debris of battlefields during 1916 advance; destruction of Grodno fortress during 1915 retreat; logistical organisation of mobile medical unit and carrying own first aid kit; work of male hospital orderlies; personnel and size of dressing station; daily acts of heroism. REEL 12 Continues: opinion, role and reputation of Cossack troops; accuracy of German fire; Russian attitudes towards her as Englishwoman; reading newspapers for war news and isolation of Russian front. REEL 13 Continues: taking photographs, developing them and obtaining supplies; wounded soldiers' need to talk about their front line experiences and wanting to know fate of comrades; talking to the dying; difficulty of leaving dying to treat salvable cases; wanting to comfort dying; treatment of stomach wounds and incident of giving patient water; injections to prolong life and ease suffering. REEL 14 Continues: ethics of keeping mortally wounded alive; German use of dum dum bullets and very heavy shells on Russian front; nurses feelings on being at front line; organisation of posting of unit; difficulty of moving with wounded during 1915 retreat and those left behind. REEL 15 Continues: elaborate Austrian trench system during 1916 advance and comparison with primitive Russian trenches; Russian apprehension at fighting Germans; heavy bombardment of Russian trenches at outset of German advance 1915; photographing Austrian trenches; difficulty of fighting in Carpathian foothills 1917; Russian soldiers carrying icons; importance of religion to front line soldiers; danger bringing out people's heroism; chaplain's view of war. REEL 16 Continues: chaplain's view of wartime heroism; seeing positive side of warfare; Muslim Tartars refusing amputations, work as drivers, their qualities and strict adherence to Islam; food prepared by mobile kitchens; eating earwig soup; qualities of Russian soldiers. REEL 17 Continues: incidence of shell shock; recognising self-inflicted wounds and a doctor's unsympathetic reaction; massive Russian casualties of 1915 retreat; ignorance of young soldiers and extreme youthfulness of some.
Associated people and organisations
- Farmborough, Florence
- Russian Red Cross
- Russian Red Cross, 10 Field Surgical Otryad
- Zemstvo, Russian Government
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