Panel 8

    …………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

Medical expeditions

The MSW and the CRC organized several expeditions of medical and nursing staff, which were ready to provide first aid to already liberated compatriots. The Czechoslovak government-in-exile officially decided on this in August 1944, when the MSW submitted a proposal to send the first medical expedition. Preparations for this humanitarian aid had been underway since the beginning of the war. It was not only about medical personnel, but also about material and clothing. The first medical expedition returned through the Middle East and the Soviet Union. It arrived in Košice, where the expedition established a base, at the end of February 1945. The second medical expedition arrived in Pilsen at the end of that May. For now, we don’t have much information about a third expedition, including whether it even happened. The chair of the Nursing Department, Marie Rechtová, took part in the first medical expedition. Eva Adlerová, one of the auxiliary nurses of the second medical expedition, helped with the typhoid epidemic in Terezín after her return home. Since the beginning of the war, the Nursing Department had ensured the training of a large number of Czechoslovak women so that, after returning to their homeland, they could help wherever necessary. There were almost ten nurses in both expeditions. Most had an S.R.N. degree obtained in GB. Priority was given to nurses with several years of experience. In mid-1944, a nursing course was organized to increase the number of qualified nurses. The course was full-time, taught in the Czech language and with practice in a hospital. According to the memoirs of one of the physicians of the first medical expedition, the US Army provide the members of the expedition with their uniforms. It is evident from the preserved photographs from the departure of nurses of the first medical expedition that the components of the American uniform were also given to nurses. Most of the nurses in the photographs are in in the CRC uniform.
“We must assume that after the war, the condition of our hospitals at home not only in terms of material, but mainly regarding personnel, will be miserable, because all hospitals in the Czech lands and also in Carpathian Ruthenia and occupied parts of Slovakia are now in the hands of German and Hungarian physicians and nurses. Once the Nazi economy collapses, they will all be forced to abandon their institutions. Therefore, there will be a great need for healthy and young women – trained nurses.“ (Čechoslovák No. 24, June 16, 1944).

Illustration on the left:

  • A letter addressed to Eva Adlerová, a registered nurse, informing her that she would preferably be repatriated as a selected nurse of a medical expedition to the liberated territories of the Czechoslovak Republic. According to the memoirs of Eva Adlerová and documents in the archive, it was the second medical expedition that reached Czechoslovakia at the end of May 1945. (The author’s private archive)
  • “The Czechoslovak Red Cross abroad in the war was dedicated to the care of our army, air force and the wounded, and Czechoslovak compatriots scattered around the world. After the liberation of our homeland, it shall concentrat all its strength to help the homeland; therefore, do help the Czechoslovak Red Cross in the fulfillment of its great tasks; every smallest gift will be gratefully welcomed; contribute to the Czechoslovak Red Cross;“ (Czechoslovakia No. 43, October 26, 1945)

    Illustration on the right:
  • Articles from Čechoslovák – No. 24, June 16, 1944 and No. 20, May, 5.1945
  • Registered nurse Berta Spitzer poses for a photographer. (Archive MFA)
  • A group of nurses of the 1st Czechoslovak medical expedition at a London Railway Station. The nurses are dressed in uniforms of the CSC and the US Army. The nurses in American women’s coats are wearing men’s field caps, although the U.S. military had women’s field caps. (Archive MFA)