Matron at War. The story of Katy Beaufoy (1869-1918)

An extraordinary life revealed through a diary of a nurse at the centre of efforts to save and comfort the sick and severely wounded. This is a charming story told with candour. It does something unique, yet pertinent to many hundreds of thousands of us : the authors, the great-nieces of Katy Beaufoy, show in a family tree that for anyone who served and died in the First World War, there could well be a dozen or two ancestors who have this connection to make.

This is an intimate publication that shares with us a cousin who died, another who survived. It resonates because some of us will reflect that we too are only here because an ancestor was not killed. 

The insight to the experience of a Matron running a ward, hospital ship or hospital is shocking because it lays bare the truth about how so many men died or survived. Their's is never the platitude of a letter home saying they died instantly with a shot through the head or heart. We are taken on a journey before the 'European War', to Rome, to South Africa and then back and forth along the English Channel, to Gibraltar, and Malta, Alexandria and Lemos.

We know what fate awaits and read on compulsively with dread. 

The introductions, the stories behind commemorating the life of Katy Beaufoy and the authors with their family connection make this a delightful and insightful read. The personal diary of Katy Beaufoy published here is of course raison d'être behind this publication. Katy brings to life the aftermath of combat - those who died were buried, those who survived found themselves in the care of professional like Katy Beaufoy.