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Brenda Joynson – an adventurous nurse from Warrington

Brenda Joynson – an adventurous nurse from Warrington

Brenda Joynson was a qualified nurse from Warrington. When war broke out, eschewing the military nursing services, she joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, an independent all-women paramedical organisation which managed to get to the Western Front in spite of official opposition. The FANY eventually served with three Allied Armies; Belgian, French and British.

Mary Brenda Joynson was born in 1884. In 1911 she was living with her family at 7 Museum Street in Warrington. Her father, Frederick, was a Chemical Engineer. She trained as a nurse and became what was known as a ‘monthly’ nurse, ie working in private homes as required. When war broke out she joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and was one of the few qualified FANYs to go to France in October 1914. Most FANYs had been trained only as first aiders. Welcomed by the Belgian Military Medical Services with open arms, the FANYs were given a disused and very run-down school attached to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Calais to run as a convalescent hospital. A special typhoid ward was soon added. Joynson, as a trained nurse, had the responsibility of imposing the required standard of medical care as many FANYs had been trained only as first-aiders. Lamarck Hospital was bombed by Zeppelin on several occasions.
The FANY was a voluntary unit and relied on donations and fundraising to carry out this work. Brenda Joynson had good connections in Liverpool and several FANYs visited the city during the war to talk about their work in France and to raise money. They spoke at the Adelphi Hotel and at the Women’s War Bureau in Gambier Terrace. There are several references in the Corps Gazette to large donations of supplies from Liverpool. Brenda Joynson became Co-Director of the hospital until it closed at the end of 1916, having treated over 4000 Belgian soldiers.
She held the rank of Lieutenant and was awarded the Belgian Croix Civique. She died in Colwyn in 1977.

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