Gladys as a Student Nurse in South Shields General Hospital in 1945
- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Gladys Charters
- Location of story:
- South Shields
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 May 2005
VE Day, May 8th 1945 and Student Nurse Gladys Charters was living in the Nurses Home at South Shields General Hospital.
At that time all student nurses had to live in. Everytime the air raid siren went off the nurses who lived in had to go straight back to the wards to care for the patients and prepare for any air raid casualties.
On her day off, Gladys went home to Blyth. She had to cross on the ferry to North Shields. One evening in the blackout the engines suddenly stopped when there was an air raid on the ships in the River Tyne. Incediary bombs lit up the sky like fireworks falling into the water. Because she lived in the blackout, Gladys was fascinated by the lights and she stayed up on deck watching.
On another night, Gladys remembers seeing the Hospital Ship coming up the Tyne all lit up with a big Red Cross.
During the war, she nursed casualties from the D Day Landings. South Shields is on the River Tyne and was a Reception Centre for wounded service men. After the D Day Landings in 1944, Gladys was on duty and remembers admitting a soldier from the Black Watch Regiment, John Webster from Broughty Ferry in Scotland. He kept asking the time. Gladys asked the day staff to move him into the centre of the ward where he could see the clock, but they moved him under the clock! So everyday when she went off duty Gladys would leave him her nurse's watch so he knew the time.
Casualties of different nationalities were admitted to South Shields General Hospital including Canadian Airmen. Gladys remembers asking a Corporal Bell his nationality. "Oh cor blimy, I'm English. I'm a Cockney from London."
Gladys qualified in 1946 and went on to be a Queen's District Nursing Sister. She is now Mrs Gladys Watton, aged 81 years.
She has vivid memories of VE Day. When VE Day dawned, the first she heard about it was at "Supper Time" at 8 am after a busy Night Duty. She was so relieved and thought to herself, "At least I'll be able to sleep without any sirens." I do believe she slept for two days!
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