Abertay University probes mystery of Nurse Maule's suitcase
- 14 February 2013
- From the section Tayside and Central Scotland
A mystery suitcase discovered in a cupboard has prompted nursing staff at Abertay University to turn detective.
The battered case, which was found in the university's psychology department, was filled with nursing memorabilia from World War I.
So far, staff have learned that it once belonged to a nurse from Paisley called Margaret Maule but her links to Abertay are unknown.
The university is now asking the public for help in learning who she was.
It is known from the material in the case that she looked after badly wounded German soldiers at the Dartford War Hospital in Kent.
She also cared for wounded British soldiers at the Shakespeare Hospital in Glasgow and later did her training to qualify as a Queen's Nurse in Greenock.
But why the suitcase ended up in Dundee remains a mystery.
Abertay was granted university status in 1994 but it started life more than 100 years earlier as Dundee College of Technology
Staff at the university are appealing to the public to contact them if they have any information about Nurse Maule and the case.
Robin Ion, head of Abertay's nursing and counselling division, said: "The contents of this suitcase are absolutely fascinating but we know very little about the person who owned it.
"There's no record of her ever having been to Abertay, so how it came to be in our possession is a complete mystery.
"All we know about her is what we've been able to piece together from the things we found in her suitcase."
The suitcase contains documents dating back to 1914, including Ms Maule's diary and an article she wrote for a newspaper called The People's Journal.
Mr Ion said: "There's also an autograph book filled with detailed sketches drawn for her by her patients by way of thanks for the care she gave them, and a number of faded photographs of her and her fellow nurses dressed in their pristine white uniforms."
From the diary it is clear that Nurse Maule initially had misgivings about having to care for German prisoners of war; her brother had been killed in action.
However, she was able to overcome these feelings and provide a very high level of care for her patients.
Mr Ion added: "It came as a shock when she learnt she was to be sent to Dartford to care for prisoners of war.
"However, the fact that she managed to carry out her duties in spite of her misgivings, and that she did so in such a way that her patients went to the trouble of crafting gifts for her to show their appreciation, indicates that she was one of the best.
"Nursing has always been about showing compassion, without prejudice, and Nurse Maule showed an enormous depth of feeling to her patients under very difficult circumstances."