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15 October 2014
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Conscientious Objectoricon for Recommended story

by BettyHook

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People in story: 
Elizabeth Rose Hook
Location of story: 
Dr Barnardos Children's Homes
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Contributed on: 
23 December 2004

Elizabeth Rose Hook 1943, Dr Barnardos's Children's Nurse.

When World War II was declared, Elizabeth Hook was living and working at Kensington Palace London, as a parlour maid in the ‘service’ of Princess Alice.

Elizabeth, a Conscientious Objector, was totally opposed to the concept of war, she was not prepared to assist the war effort in any manner whatsoever. As the big houses reduced their staff for the duration, Elizabeth came to the conclusion the only thing she could do, in keeping with her principles, was to involve herself in caring for the innocent victims of war. She applied and was accepted to train as a Children’s Nurse at Dr. Banardoe’s Children’s homes, qualifying in 1941.

Throughout the Blitz, Elizabeth dedicated herself to the care of orphaned and injured children.

Elizabeth often told the following story of her lucky escape: As the Blitz intensified she was working as a senior nurse with responsibility for a team of nurses working with a group of young children. They had all spent a number of days and nights in the air raid shelter, which was positioned in the garden of the ‘Home.’ The children were fractious, irritable and in a state of distress when the ‘All Clear’ was sounded and the nurses escorted the children outside into the warm afternoon sunshine.

As the children had been in the shelter for such a long period of time, Elizabeth decided they would all have afternoon tea in the garden to allow the children to be outdoors, running about in the fresh air as long as possible.

The picnic rugs were laid on the grass with food and drinks, Elizabeth decided to authorise the use of the entire weeks (small) sugar and butter ration, which was a very special treat for everyone.

But as the picnic was being laid out the youngest child began insisting he could hear an air-raid siren, pointing towards the sky he became very distressed.

“Siren nurse ‘ook, nurse ‘ook, nurse ‘ook. Siren nurse ‘ook.”

No one else could hear a siren. Unable to calm the distraught child, Elizabeth instructed everyone back into the shelter just in case. Everybody was reluctant but with much complaining and grumbling, the children returned to the smelly dark place where they had lived for the pas few days. Just as the last nurse was entering, a bomb exploded behind the Children’s Home.

All the windows in the building were blown out, the entire picnic area had been devastated by shards of flying shattered glass where only moments before the children and nurses had been sitting.

Elizabeth was the first out of the shelter to see if it were safe for the children to come out again. In a stated of shock, all she could think about was the whole weeks ration of butter had been wasted with slivers of glass sticking out everywhere, none of the food could be salvaged.

Elizabeth opened the back door of the building, as she was about to step in, the ceiling collapsed, flying debris grazed her nose which was the only injury sustained that day. It took some while to register what a lucky escape they’d had. All thanks to one tiny boy and the nurse who had listened to him.

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