Nurse recalls treating bad wounds, shell-shock

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Treating returned servicemen who were badly injured, had limbs amputated or were suffering shell-shock are some of the nursing experiences Ruth Waddell remembers.

The 97-year-old, who now lives in Gore, was a nurse at the former Kew Hospital in Invercargill during World War 2.

While modern antibiotics and other treatments were not available then, doctors often prescribed penicillin.

“We gave them injections every hour or so,” Mrs Waddell said.

The penicillin helped with the healing of wounds, she said.

Some of the servicemen admitted to hospital suffered from shell-shock.

A sudden noise would send them scrambling under their hospital bed.

“It was nice to be able to help them – I liked nursing.”

Some of the war veterans kept in touch with her after they had recovered as they credited her with saving their lives.

She nursed returned servicemen along with other patients, both medical and surgical cases.

“There was quite a variety.”

She worked at Kew Hospital for four years, she said.

Like many other people who lived through World War 2, she had memories of families sending parcels containing items such as fruit cakes, biscuits and sweets to loved ones serving overseas.