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Sister Janet: Nurse and Heroine of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879

Best, Brian & Stossel, Katie
Pen & Sword

Review from The Bulletin of the Military Historical Society
Volume 57 No. 225 August 2005

Everyone had heard of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, a few may be aware of the West Indian Mary Seacole, but until now the exploits of the nineteen year old nurse Janet Wells during the Zulu War have remained unrecorded. Brian Best and Katie Stossell have produced a fascinating book: Sister Janet. Nurse and Heroine of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, published by Pen & Sword at 19.99. At the age of 18 Janet was decorated for her service with the Russian army in the Balkan War of 1878, next year she became the only nurse to serve at the front in the Zulu War, spending time at Rorke's Drift very soon after the great battle there. She met and treated Cetshwayo and was awarded the Royal Red Cross - the nurse's VC. Her activities seem to have gone far beyond what is strictly understood to be a nurse's duty today in simply caring for the wounded under a doctor's instructions, she was also called upon to undertake major surgery. The first part of the book contains a concise and useful background to nursing in the army, there are chapters on the battle of Solferino and founding of the Red Cross organisation; the second section gives a very full biography of this remarkable young woman.