The British Empire Library

The Badge of Britannia: The History and Reminiscences of The Queen Elizabeth's Overseas Nursing Service 1886 - 1966

by H. P. Dickson

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by J.G.
The first part of this book describes the history of the Queen Elizabeth Overseas Nursing Service, which originated as the Colonial Nursing Service, founded by Mabel Piggot in 1896. Trained nurses were sent to the overseas colonies, often working under difficult and trying circumstances to provide nursing care to all those who needed it.

These dedicated nurses were clearly of true pioneering stock, dealing with a new field of work in tropical diseases, new language, extremes of temperatures and lack of the most basic facilities - also strange customs.

The second part of the book tells of reminiscences from working lives, assocation with people of importance, local leave and recreation in many different territories.

There were dangerous times too. World wars one and two with "the Winds of Change" in the African continent.

In 1948 a nurse describes in her diary, during a Palestine Tour, with mounting fear, the prospect of the terrifying unknown as conflict exploded between warring factions. There is another tale of an earthquake and a great tidal wave on the Solomon Isles.

The last chapter deals with training nurses and how hospitals and nursing services had developed in the Dominions. The handing over to the peoples of their country and running of their own nursing service for themselves.

In conclusion, by 1966 circumstances had so changed that the Queen Elizabeth Overseas Nursing Service finally finished in that year.

This book is a must for any nurse to read but for those who have served in the Colonial Service the reading will be particularly nostalgic.

British Empire Book
H. P. Dickson
The Pentland Press


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe