Real Lives: Flora Sandes

Historian feature

By Paula Kitching, published 17th April 2020

Our series ‘Real Lives’ seeks to put the story of the ordinary person into our great historical narrative. We are all part of the rich fabric of the communities in which we live and we are affected to greater and lesser degrees by the big events that happen on a daily basis. Sometimes we might even play a part in the big events, although our names are not recorded, while on other occasions we are witnesses to events and times which we would now consider remarkable. Sometimes our regular lives are the perfect illustration of how people live at any given time – but all our lives matter and we want to celebrate some of those lives here. If you have any people that you think might also fit this category and would like to write about them, please do contact: 

Paula Kitching explores the story of Flora Sandes, a woman determined to make her contribution to the war effort.

In 1914, Flora Sandes was 38 years of age when war was declared. She was born in Yorkshire but had lived in a number of places as her father, a rector, was moved to different locations. When the war started she was living with her family in Surrey and was keen to stop being a secretary and volunteer as a nurse. She had spent a number of years training with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY). Although the FANY were not attached in any official capacity to the military they had been founded by a former captain and they were organised along military lines, wore a uniform and were trained in horsemanship and military drill. The purpose of a FANY was to be a battlefield medic who could ‘ride into a combat zone and rescue and treat the injured’... 

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