Lorna Kite (b.1916): Researching Writing Lives

Being a part of the Writing Lives project has definitely been a rewarding experience. I have always been interested in history and autobiographies. I chose this module to share my interest in the subject matter. Moreover, I do enjoy blogging as a medium and I have had previous experience on modules that entail this. For example, in my second year at university I took part in the ‘Prison Voices’ Module. So when Writing Lives came as on option to study in my third year I could not have been happier. I was excited to share my passion for blog writing and historical autobiographies on the module.

When searching for a memoir, Lorna’s was one that I felt immediately drawn to. The title, ‘WWII as Seen Through the Eyes of a Nurse,’ captivated my interest as I believed it would be insightful to see the Second World War through a nurse’s perspective. I also noticed on the contents page that the author, Lorna Kite, was mentioned in Despatches. I thought her memoir must reflect a lot about this author as she was awarded with such a great honour. When I was reading through, what stood out the most was the emphasis on her love for the profession; her endeavour as a nurse and her compassion towards her patients. It truly amazed me and I could not wait to share her story with other readers for the Writing Lives webpage. Her sacrifice as a nurse enlightened me on what it was like for the serving forces of World War II in the horrors of war. I felt as though I had stepped back into time. The military nurse played an enormous factor in WWII and Lorna emphasises how Britain could not have won the war without them.

I felt truly moved by how she describes the casualties, for example, in Dunkirk and the battles of El Alamein. She often depicts such experiences in graphic detail. Her memoir narrates what it was like being away from home during this time. The feelings that were evoked the most whilst reading were fear and apprehension. Not knowing what to expect next; no day in the war being the same as the last, will her patients survive, will she manage to save them and will she survive. Her family at home, wondering if Lorna is alive. I can only imagine how apprehensive that must have been. I concluded then, that corruption of the home was being torn apart by wondering if their loved one is safe.

Lorna’s anecdotes on each posting location I found to be very engaging. The memoir in some respects, reads as travel writing: her time on hospital ships around the world; being based at foreign countries such as, Cairo and Tripoli; and on her leave she often went on excursions with her friends. Also evoked is the tense, military atmosphere. She describes this in Cairo and how British troops gave Farouk an ultimatum and in Tripoli, where she helped stopped British troops being mutilated. I thought were highlights to mention. The memoir also gave a glimpse of what it was like being on the opposing side as she states when she visited Germany after the war.

Lorna’s writing style with her vivid immediacy, made me feel as though I was there. I believe that through my blogs on Lorna’s memoir people will feel more gratified towards the military nurses of World War Two. This is conveyed by how they helped Britain to win the war, which ultimately shaped world history. I would like to think I have shedded a light on this important topic. How she narrates her experience and her tone as an empath highlights the brave heroes of World War Two and the casualties that they fought through.

Through being a researcher on the module while writing on Lorna, I feel as though I have contributed to public history. I think that people will enjoy reading about Lorna’s memoir, especially as it recollects these memories of a nurse’s experiences in World War Two. I think this would provide interest to members of the public and for other researchers who are interested in the topic. Through blogging, I have improved my skills to write for a general, but non-specialist audience. Moreover, because of my participation on the module, I have now required more skills on research and blog writing.

Social media has also helped me to achieve the best possible outcome with my blogs. Sharing my blog with my research partner has allowed me to contrast their author’s blog with my own. It has given me more scope towards other author’s history and how this is important and should also be shared. Thus, having someone peer-review my blogs has also helped me to see how it reads from someone else’s perspective and how it would be perceived by readers. Using hashtags has also allowed me to see relevant posts with other students who are also researching writing lives. Being able to read other students blogs on Twitter, and having other students, ‘favourite,’ the tweets on my blogs and posting comments on the website I have also found to be an encouraging and positive aspect of the course. Moreover, the process of finding suitable images, quotes, scholarly journals and articles, has allowed me to be creative. This achieves the outcome so that each blog designed is visually stimulating, informative and an enjoyable read for the audience.  

I have really loved writing about Lorna. I feel as though her memoir will forever be a part of my literary and historical knowledge. It is a highlight of my time studying English and I will always remember participating in the incredible Writing Lives project at university.

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