An example of the Courage and Compassion of nurses, two women have been remembered today, 75 years after they were tragically killed in the World War II bombing of a Northfield Hospital.

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital was bombed in the early hours of 23rd November 1940. Four bombs fell on the hospital and Sisters Daniels and Galloway were killed while eating their evening meal.

Hospital Matron at the time, Miss Fanny Smith, wrote a vivid account of the attack in her diary. Miss Smith wrote:

Matron Fanny Smith greeting King George VI during a visit to ROH
Matron Fanny Smith greeting King George VI during a visit to ROH

“The patients who were in the side ward were not hurt, but one man had a slight cut on the forehead, and the beds were covered in glass. The patients were wonderfully brave, so many were helpless but none complained. The sisters and nurses worked hard to move the patients under cover of another ward. The cooks made tea for everyone.

One incendiary bomb fell between the Nurses’ Home and the Rabone Hall and was immediately extinguished by Sister Hyden. The rest of the nurses and maids were not told of the tragic circumstances [of the death of Sisters Galloway and Daniels] until they were called the next morning.

The gas was off for eight days, the water for nine days… Drinking water was fetched twice daily from Middlepark Road by Mrs Burton from Barnt Green who drove our lorry. The water and milk had to be boiled. The heating was off for 10 days.”

A moving video (above) has been released by the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, celebrating the Courage and Compassion” of nurses.

Chief Executive Officer of the hospital, Jo Chambers, said:

ROH1“It is important we mark the courage of those staff who did all they could to protect their colleagues and patients that night 75 years ago. It is astonishing that Matron Fanny Smith and her nurses managed to keep the hospital running during such a traumatic time. You can see in her words, it must have been terrifying for them.

I am just as proud of today’s nurses, who work hard day in, day out, to care for the many patients who spend time here, undergoing minor and major procedures. Their role continues to be the lifeblood of our organisation, allowing us to provide first class services to people who come, in some instances, from all over the country. Our crest, which is now more than 100 years old, contains a cross surrounded with laurel leaves. The cross represents courage and the leaves represent compassion. This is what connects the nurses back in 1940 and our nurses today.”

An online time capsule has been set up, which contains the full text of Fanny Smith’s account, along with that of one of the staff nurses, and other images and films of that time. You can read more about the history of the hospital on their website.



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