Panel 5

    …………IN GREAT BRITAIN 1939–1945
  2. Panel – Assistance to compatriots
  3. Panel – Nursing Department and nursing courses
  4. Panel – S.R.N. – State Registered Nurse
  5. Panel – Location of Czechoslovak nurses
  6. Panel – CRC nurse uniforms
  7. Panel – Components of the uniform of Emília Součková
  8. Panel – Medical expeditions
  9. Panel – Marie Rechtová
  10. Panel – Period Press

Location of Czechoslovak nurses

English hospitals
Trained nurses were sought by the CRC Nursing Department for placement in British and Czechoslovak health care facilities. They worked in military or civilian hospitals, from which the department received a number of requests for auxiliary nurses. To work or help in an English hospital, Czechoslovak nurses had to speak English and have a diploma from the BRC nursing course. A diploma from the Czechoslovak course sufficed for a auxiliary nurse to work in Czechoslovak institutions. In 1939, the British government set up the Civil Nursing Reserve (CNR), which added registered and auxiliary nurses to civilian hospitals. It brought together women from 18 to 55 years of age who, after taking nursing courses, were placed in civilian hospitals. CRC nurses were also enrolled in this reserve. If the auxiliary nurses were also members of the Red Cross, they preferred to wear its uniform. If they were registered only with the CNR, they worked in his reserve’s uniform.

CRC Outpatient Clinic
CRC established an outpatient clinic in London that provided health care to Czechoslovaks who did not fall under the care of the military health service, the health department of the MSW or other allied medical institute. The following departments were gradually established in the outpatient departments: „general and dental outpatient clinic“, „eye clinic“, „skin clinic“ and „ear, nose and throat clinic“. Later, a pediatric clinic was added and X-ray technology was obtained. Preferably, registered nurses were employed in an outpatient department. By the end of the war, fourteen nurses worked here, three of whom were registered nurses.

The Czechoslovak Soldiers‘ Sanatorium
CRC, especially through meetings with honorary chair Hana Benešová, received a sanatorium for the convalescence of Czechoslovak soldiers in Castle Mead near Windsor. It began activity on November 9, 1940, it had 50 beds and was intended only for low-ranking Czechoslovak soldiers. Czechoslovak officers were sent to convalescence centers with British officers. The BRC and Czechoslovak military authorities, the MND, ran the sanatorium. In addition to British medics and BRC nurses, a Czech military physician and 2 CRC nurses worked in the sanatorium.

Czechoslovak Department
Sick and wounded Czechoslovak soldiers and civilians were hospitalized in English hospitals. Lacking language skills of some Czechoslovak patients and isolation from their compatriots hindered their convalescence. The CRC sought to establish a Czechoslovak hospital or, as the case may be, separate Czechoslovak wards in some English hospitals. The health department prepared a proposal for the Czechoslovak hospital, but it was never implemented for financial reasons. Representatives of the CRC, MND and MSW negotiated with the British authorities the establishment of a Czechoslovak department. Although in some sources, it was referred to as a Czechoslovak military hospital, it actually served Czechoslovak soldiers and civilians alike.
The Czechoslovak ward at Coventry Hospital was closed after the bombing in November 1940, and from June 1941, it operated in hospitals in Warwick and Stratford. Each had 60 to 80 beds. Both Czechoslovak departments were managed by the health service of the Czechoslovak Army, MND, that is, Czechoslovak military physicians. Marie Rechtová and Olga Löwyová, the chair and vice-chair of the Nursing Department respectively, negotiated with hospital administrators the conditions for assigning CRC nurses.
On December 1, 1942, the department moved to Hammersmith Hospital in London. The reason was the relocation of Czechoslovak military units as well as better transport connections for transporting patients. The Hammersmith Czechoslovak Department had 100 beds and its own operating room. Working here once again were Czechoslovak military physicians of various qualifications and 30 Czechoslovak nurses led by an English head nurse.

Nursery and school
The MSW in London Kensington established and in April 1943 opened a Czechoslovak nursery for children of Czechoslovak mothers working in the war industry or compatriots otherwise involved in the war effort. About 40 children were cared for by ten CRC nurses. The children spent the day or the whole week in the nursery, and their parents could only take them home for the weekend. In the spring of 1944, they were moved from bombarded London to Moulton Grange in Northampton. Just a few months after the opening, the Nové Československo (New Czechoslovakia) weekly wrote: “Many children of other nationalities have already tried to get into the Czechoslovak nursery.“ (New Czechoslovakia No. 32, 14. 8. 1943)
Four to five Czechoslovak nurses also took care of children and youth without a family in the Czechoslovak school. They supervised their health and taught them proper hygiene habits. In January 1941, there were 53 children in the school.

Illustration on the left:

  • Registered nurse Eva Adlerová (first from the right) in her CNR uniform with British colleagues. The photograph was taken before her registration in the Nursing Department in May 1941. She was working at a civilian hospital at the time, presumably at the Emergency Hospital in Rugby, where this image might have been taken. (The author’s private archive)
  • On the left, a nurse with a compatriot in the CRC outpatient clinic. (Archive MFA)
  • On the right, a nurse with physicians working in the CRC outpatient clinic. (Čechoslovák, English Edition 1941)
  • Footage from the Czechoslovak Fleet Newsletter from 1940 from a report on the sanatorium for Czechoslovak soldiers in Castle Mead near Windsor. The woman in uniform on the far left is a CRC nurse. The woman in the window is a BRC volunteer nurse. (Archive MFA)

    Illustration on the right:
  • A CRC auxiliary nurse distributes traditional Czech cakes to soldiers in the Czechoslovak department at Hammersmith Hospital. The photo was published in the weekly Čechoslovák no. 8, February 23, 1945 in a reportage on the Czechoslovak department at Hammersmith Hospital. (Archive MFA)
  • “Before returning to his homeland, the President of the Republic visited wounded soldiers in the Czechoslovak hospital at Hammersmith. The president was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Hana Benešová, chair of the Czechoslovak Red Cross.” (Čechoslovák no. 10, March 9, . 1945). The second woman from the left is wearing a CRC dress uniform. The second and third women from the right are dressed in the CRC work uniform. (Archive MFA)
  • Pictures taken during the visit of Mrs. Hana Benešová in the Czechoslovak nursery. (Archive MFA)

    Illustrations below:
  • Mrs. Hana Benešová during a visit to the Czechoslovak nursery. (Archive MFA)