RCN centenary

My grandmother and a nursing hero

Ruth Moore worked with first world war hero Edith Cavell, the British nurse executed for helping Allied soldiers escape Belgium. Her granddaughter Miriam Taylor, a nurse, talks to Clare Lomas

Ruth Moore worked with first world war hero Edith Cavell, the British nurse executed for helping Allied soldiers escape Belgium. Her granddaughter Miriam Taylor, a nurse, talks to Clare Lomas.

Abstract

Miriam Taylor’s grandmother Ruth Moore was one of the last nurses to train under first world war hero Edith Cavell. After Cavell’s execution by the Germans in 1915, she helped to promote her legacy. Miriam Taylor, herself a nurse, shares her grandmother’s impressions of Cavell and discusses her extensive archive of memorabilia – which includes her grandmother’s nursing certificate, filled in and signed by Cavell in 1915.

Clare Lomas (CL): Did your grandmother talk to you about nursing in the first world war and her connection to Edith Cavell?

My grandmother started her nurse training in Belgium [at the nursing school in Brussels established by Edith Cavell] in 1912, just as her parents were leaving the country to work for a shipping line in Tangier. As she was under 21, Edith Cavell became her legal guardian.

From September 1914 to April 1915, my grandmother worked in the Royal Palace in Belgium where Edith Cavell also worked, which had been converted into a Red Cross hospital. A lot of the nursing tasks were pure hard work, scrubbing and cleaning, and you quickly learned how to multitask because you had to do everything.

My grandmother spoke eight languages, including German, so she was put in charge of the German wards. But every time an English person came in from the battlefield, she would be called to help. She nursed at least 290 German soldiers under occupation in Belgium, which is something you cannot do without a bit of steel up your spine.

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This article was first published in print in Nursing Standard: volume 29, issue 10

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