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Women at war: The British sisters who nursed the French army

Juliet and Marcia, the Mansel sisters
Juliet and Marcia, the Mansel sisters Mansel family archives


Over the past century, the bravery, suffering and sacrifice of World War I veterans has been hailed and lamented in countless memorials, books and films.

But the Great War was also a woman's war. Back home, women worked around the clock on farms and in factories, all the while praying that their husbands, sons and brothers would return alive from the trenches. Thousands of young women who volunteered as nurses experienced the horror of war firsthand. Their selfless dedication has for too long been underestimated.

Among them were Marcia and Juliet Mansel, two sisters from an upper class British family. For four years they nursed and comforted wounded soldiers from the Western Front, sometimes only within a few kilometres of the enemy.

FRANCE 24 was able to consult the abundant wartime correspondence they left behind, which provides a moving testimony to the women's war led by the Mansel sisters and the thousands like them.

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