Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Wartime nurse's diary found in case

The diary of a First World War nurse has been found at the University of Abertay Dundee
The diary of a First World War nurse has been found at the University of Abertay Dundee

A battered old suitcase which gives an insight into the life of a First World War nurse has been found at the back of a cupboard at a university.

Staff at the University of Abertay Dundee found the case, which belonged to a nurse called Margaret Maule, from Paisley, Renfrewshire, in the institution's psychology department.

It was filled with memorabilia from the war, and some of the documents show Ms Maule was sent to care for wounded German prisoners of war at Dartford War Hospital in Kent after finishing her training at Merryflatts Hospital (now the Southern General) in Glasgow in 1917.

Her diary was also inside the case, in which Ms Maule describes her initial misgivings about having to look after German soldiers, but later shows she was able to overcome those feelings to provide them with the care they needed. She also treated wounded British soldiers at the Shakespeare Hospital in Maryhill, Glasgow, and later did her training to qualify as a Queen's Nurse in Greenock.

Among the memorabilia, which dates back almost 100 years to 1914, there are pictures of Ms Maule and some of her nursing colleagues in crisp, white uniforms. Her brother is said to have been killed in action during the war.

The university said how the luggage case came to be there is a "complete mystery" as there are no records linking the woman to Abertay. Staff have appealed for the public's help in shedding more light on Ms Maule's life.

Robin Ion, head of Abertay's nursing and counselling division, said: "The contents of this suitcase are absolutely fascinating, but we know very little about the person who owned it. There's no record of her ever having been to Abertay, so how it came to be in our possession is a complete mystery.

"All we know about her is what we've been able to piece together from the things we found in her suitcase. It contains documents dating back to 1914, including her diary and an article she wrote for a newspaper called The People's Journal.

"There's also an autograph book filled with detailed sketches drawn for her by her patients by way of thanks for the care she gave them, and a number of faded photographs of her and her fellow nurses dressed in their pristine white uniforms. When she graduated as a nurse at the age of 30 in 1917, after three years of training in Glasgow, she became part of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service and signed up instantly to be sent overseas."

Ms Maule's nursing record shows she was born in Paisley and lived in the town's McKerrell Street. She trained at Merryflatts Hospital between 1914 to 1917, after attending the East Public School, Paisley. The nurse retired in 1969 and a letter of appreciation for her service was sent to her at her home at 46 Dunchurch Road, Oldhall, Paisley, from the Ministry of Defence. Anyone with information should contact the university at communications@abertay.ac.uk.

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