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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

This Small Army of Women

Canadian Volunteer Nurses and the First World War

With her linen head scarf and white apron emblazoned with a red cross, the Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse, or VAD, has become a romantic emblem of the Great War. This book tells the story of the nearly 2,000 women from Canada and Newfoundland who volunteered to “do their bit” overseas and at home. Well-educated and middle-class but largely untrained, VADs were excluded from Canadian military hospitals overseas (the realm of the professional nurse) but helped solve Britain’s nursing deficit. Their struggle to secure a place at their brothers’ bedsides reveals much about the tensions surrounding amateur and professional nurses and women’s evolving role outside the home.

288 pages

Table of Contents


1 This Ardent Band of Ladies: Birth of the Canadian VAD Movement

2 Enthusiastic and Anxious: Mobilizing the Voluntary Nursing Service

3 Every Woman Is a Nurse: Framing the Image of the VAD

4 No Time for Sentiment: Making a Useful Contribution

5 Saying Goodbye: Forgetting, Remembering, and Moving On



Notes; Bibliography; Index

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