"..a bardy view!"

Florence Nightingale….100 Years in Memoriam

It may be worth passing a nod to someone. Its the 100th anniversary of the death of Florence Nightingale.  

The Crimean War was certainly not an issue when I was at school, but as I said somewhere else in the deep depths of this blog, my education along with most of my generation failed miserably to learn the history of the British Empire and were taught only British Social History, which no doubt was indicative of the political times.

I can't blame the Labour or Conservative governments, because throughout the 1960's and 70's it was a game of badminton between the two, and both of them were shuttlecocks being lobbed left right and centre and blown by whichever gusts came along.

A couple of movies have been made about the Crimean War, generally because of the Charge of the Light Brigade. It was a war which the British Government of the day was tired with, and certainly didn't want exposure of a negative kind.

Its a war that has taken a back seat, and without the Battle of Balaclava and Florence Nightingale, it would have died a death along with the tens of thousands who were sacrificed in it's name. 

It is noted because of imperial ideals both Russian and European, incompetent generals and gungho heroics. Nothing has changed much in that regard.

But along came Flo, who believed she was called by God, and thanks to her position in society was galvanised to take some nurses to the Crimea and attempt to alleviate the suffering of the wounded.

Adored by the soldiers and condemned by the establishment, she revealed that many men did not die because of their wounds (horrific as they were) but by diseases festering in the very conditions that were designed to care for them.

She saw first hand the disgusting excuses for medical care, yet castigated herself that she failed to observe the simple truth that sanitation was paramount. Whilst she administered and secured comfort and medicines, welfare and cleanliness, she overlooked the contaminated water supply. It was a lesson which would send her on a mission to improve hospitals for the next 50 years.

Whilst she pushed and succeeded to have a royal commission established to investigate the horrors of the war, the then Prime Minister Lord Palmerston suppressed it on the basis that it was not in the public interest. Queen Victoria, although sympathetic, acquiesced.

its possible that Vicky was concerned and may even have instructed her ministers to shift into top gear, but somehow it seems unlikely due to her detached and privileged position.

Statues abound of Flo, and much of her legacy is prominent in health care today. Forgoing a state funeral, she opted for a simple affair which was carried out with her wishes when she died aged 90.

It didn't prevent thousands of people turning out to line the country lanes to honour her.

Before she died her country would be involved in the Indian Rebellion, the Second Afghan War,The Zulu Wars and the Boer War.

It's 130 years since the end of the Second Afghan war (1878- 1880). The British Army is fighting there again.

Lord Palmerston, Gladstone, Disraeli and Queen Victoria are dead and gone. But Florence Nightingale lives on in the hearts of every soldier maimed in battle. 

The Lady of the Lamp shines on.

Florence Nightingale 12th May 1820 – 13th August 1910


August 13, 2010 - Posted by | Current Affairs, Events, General, History | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. We had a terrific education out in the colonies and the Crimea and Florence Nightingale were standard in any History course. Terrific wee lassie. Into the valley of death rode, Flashman.


    Comment by Spook Moor | August 14, 2010 | Reply

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