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A Very Private Diary A Nurse in Wartime by Mary Morris

A Very Private Diary A Nurse in Wartime

Biography / Autobiography   eBook Favourites   

Sue Baker's view...

You can read any number of memoirs by nurses following in the footsteps of Jennifer Worth but this one I really recommend, a compelling diary of a nursing career undertaken during and after World War Two. Her diary is almost continuous following her career from Guys to Tunbridge Wells to Woolwich and on to service abroad in Normandy, Belgium and Germany. Diary keeping was forbidden but Mary Morris cheerfully carried on, reading her diary I grew to like her a lot, she has enormous empathy for her patients, disregards the notions of the time that forbad talking and listening to patients and must have helped so many get well again through her understanding and sympathy. She witnessed many horrors, the worst of which, rats killing a baby at Woolwich hospital, German POW’s sent for nursing when they were far gone with starvation and ill-treatment were hushed up. There is a lighter side to this darkness, her outgoing personality won her many male admirers and they add spice to the diaries as we wonder which one will attain the prize, I betted on Victor but it was Malcolm who won her heart in the end!

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Few private diaries survived the Second World War intact, but happily that of young nurse Mary Mulry did, its typescript now in London’s Imperial War Museum. Originally from Ireland, Mary was a vivacious girl who arrived in London aged eighteen, longing to broaden her horizons. Little can she have imagined what the war years would bring, one minute nursing children during a bombing raid, later helping Allied soldiers in Normandy in the aftermath of D-Day. Keeping a diary during active service was prohibited, but Mary enjoyed subverting expectations and her colourful diary, exuberant and romantic as well as poignant, offers an intriguing personal record of her wartime experience.
~ Amanda Hodges


A Very Private Diary A Nurse in Wartime by Mary Morris

'I always seem to be saying good-bye to men whom I might have loved had there been enough time...' 1939: 18-year-old trainee nurse Mary Mulry arrives in London from Ireland, hoping for adventure. Little did she know what the next seven years would bring. In her extraordinary diary, published now for the first time, Mary records in intimate detail her life as a nurse, both on the Home Front and on the frontline. From nursing children during bombing raids in London to treating Allied soldiers in Normandy, Mary's experiences gave her vivid and unforgettable material for the private diary she was dedicated to keeping. Filled with romance, glamour and inevitably sadness, too, these are the rich memories of an irrepressible personality, living through the turbulent years of the Second World War.


'Mary Morris's absorbing diary is a tonic to so many outsized histories of the second World War by those who had not been there. ...In pithy, occasionally sardonic entries, Morris builds a picture of the pity of war and, above all, the moral and material ruins of post-Hitler Germany, where she danced the nights away in Allied officers clubs but also got to know the stench of diphtheria ( so foul and sickly ) and gangrene. The scenes of horror and distress she recorded are leavened by childhood reminiscences of the Connemara coast and the glories of whiskey fruit cake.' -- Ian Thomson THE IRISH TIMES

'Keeping a diary during active service was forbidden, so this book offers a rare insight into the important roles of nurses, both on the Home Front and the frontline during the Second World War from their own viewpoint.' -- Verity Rogers WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE

'Diaries transport us back to the events they describe with a vividness other sources cannot match. This diary, recently discovered in the archives of the Imperial War Museum, was kept by Irish nurse Mary Morris to record her experiences during and after the Second World War. Her strength of character and spirit shine through. and night she faced the grim experience of nursing battle casualties. The constant hunger from insufficient rations, catching diphtheria, and being injured by shrapnel failed to daunt her.' -- John Adams NURSING STANDARD

About the Author

Mary Morris (nee Mulry) was born in County Galway in 1921. After completing her nursing training in London from 1939, she joined the Queen Alexandra Imperial Nursing Service Reserve in 1944. She married Captain Malcolm Morris in London in 1946, and they settled in Britain after the war. Mary later returned to nursing and never stopped writing. She died in 1997, and is survived by four children and eight grandchildren. Carol Acton is Associate Professor of English, St Jerome's University at the University of Waterloo, Ontario specialising in war writing, especially autobiographical works. She discovered Mary's diaries in the Imperial War Museum archives.

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Book Info

Publication date

29th January 2015


Mary Morris

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


320 pages


Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites

Social & cultural history
Diaries, letters & journals



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