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Nursing in the Middle East and Italy

by Peter Mair

Contributed by 
Peter Mair
People in story: 
Billie Kenny
Location of story: 
Bangor, Egypt, Syria, Italy
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
19 May 2004

My mother, ‘Billie’ Kenny, served with the TANS and later the Queen Alexandra’s Nursing Corps throughout World War 2. She was initially stationed in Bangor, and then embarked for the Middle East in June 1940, together with her sister Jane, also a QA. The sisters were Irish, from Longford, and had trained in Manchester Royal Infirmary. Billie was in Egypt through to August 1942, attached to 2/10 and later 2/5 General Hospital, and later again 19th General Hospital. She was commissioned in 1941, and posted to 11 casualty clearing station in Syria in August 1942. She then served in Italy from March to December 1944, and from there returned to Bangor in February 1945. In the Middle East she met Moray Mair, who was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Punjab Regiment. They married in 1946 and settled in Sligo, in the West of Ireland.

Both are now deceased, and like many others of their generation, they were very reluctant to talk at any length about their experiences — at least when I was growing up. I now know about their movements from service records and letters, and I can recall occasional anecdotes, including stories about penicillin, and about the relief when the German push was finally stopped at El Alamein, and so on. But I would love to know more, and would love to hear from anybody who was either in the same places at the same time, or whose family might have been there. In particular, I would love to know something about my mother’s period in Italy in 1944.

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