» Site Map
» Home Page
» Find Friends - Search Old Service and Genealogy Records
» QAIMNS for India
» QAIMNS First World War
» Territorial Force Nursing Service TFNS
» WW1 Soldiers Medical Records
» Field Ambulance No.4
» The Battle of Arras 1917
» The German Advance
» Warlencourt Casualty Clearing Station World War One
» NO 32 CCS Brandhoek - The Battle of Passchendaele
» Chain of Evacuation of Wounded Soldiers
» Allied Advance - Hundred Days Offensive
» Life After War
» Auxiliary Hospitals
» War Graves Nurses
» Book of Remembrance
» Example of Mentioned in Despatches Letter
» Love Stories
» Autograph Book World War One
» World War 1 Letters
» Service Scrapbooks
» QA World War Two
» Africa Second World War
» War Diaries of Sisters
» D Day Normandy Landings
» Belsen Concentration Camp
» Voluntary Aid Detachment
» National Service
» Korean War
» Gulf War
» Op Telic
» Op Gritrock
» Royal Red Cross Decoration
» Colonels In Chief
» Chief Nursing Officer Army
» Director Army Nursing Services (DANS)
» Colonel Commandant
» Matrons In Chief (QAIMNS)
Follow us on Twitter:
» Grey and Scarlet Corps March
» Order of Precedence
» QA Memorial National Arboretum
» NMA Heroes Square Paving Stone
» NMA Nursing Memorial
» Memorial Window
» Stained Glass Window
» Army Medical Services Monument
» Recruitment Posters
» QA Association
» QA and AMS Prayer and Hymn
Former Army Hospitals
» Army Chest Unit
» Cowglen Glasgow
» CMH Aldershot
» DKMH Catterick
» Duke of Connaught Unit Northern Ireland
» Endell Street
» First Eastern General Hospital Trinity College Cambridge
» Hospital Ghosts
» King George Military Hospital Stamford Street London
» QA Centre
» QAMH Millbank
» QEMH Woolwich
» Medical Reception Station Brunei and MRS Kuching Borneo Malaysia
» Military Maternity Hospital Woolwich
» Musgrave Park Belfast
» Royal Chelsea Hospital
» Royal Herbert
» Royal Brighton Pavilion Indian Hospital
» School of Physiotherapy
» Station Hospital Ranikhet
» Station Hospital Suez
» Ghost Hunt at Tidworth Garrison Barracks
» Ambulance Trains
» Hospital Barges
» Ambulance Flotilla
» Hospital Ships
» TPMH RAF Akrotiri
» Bowen Road
» Mount Kellett
» Wylie Road Kings Park
Overseas Old British Military Hospitals
» BMH Malta
» Camp Bastion Field Hospital and Medical Treatment Facility MTF Helmand Territory Southern Afghanistan
» TA Field Hospitals and Field Ambulances
Sister Sunshine A Wartime Romance
Review of the book Sister Sunshine A Wartime Romance which collects the World War Two war diaries and letters between Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve Lieutenant Joy Barber and Captain Tony Case of the Sherwood Foresters
You know you are in for a good read when you see a stunning book cover and a warm title. Sister Sunshine: A Wartime Romance is the most moving and personal book I have read about the QAs. It collects the diary and letters of Nursing Sister Joy Barber who joined the QAIMNS in 1942 and her future husband Tony Case who saw action in North Africa and Italy with the Sherwood Foresters. Joy too served in these locations with the 103 Hospital and fortuitously their paths crossed and romance blossomed despite the front line activities.
Joy was given the nickname Sister Sunshine because she was always smiling and cheerful and this is reflected in her journal and correspondence. We learn about her first posting to Leeds Castle near Maidstone where she nursed at this officers' hospital and soon follow in her footsteps through various postings overseas.
There is plenty of humour throughout: we learn about her first taste of rum whilst anchored off Gibraltar due to U-boat activity and what she thought of some of the Matrons! Whilst Tony finds fun in his tale of going to a barber's in Algiers and coming out looking like a wartime spiv with a pencil moustache which he quickly removed himself.
The couple cleverly overcame the army censor in their letters by using code based on Bob Hope and Bing Crosby films to reveal their locations and movements to each other. Tony saw brutal fighting against the Germans during the Tunisian Campaign and was injured. His letters give us a deeper insight into the thoughts of patients in the 5th and 94th General Hospital and their treatments. The Sisters are all old and ugly and their uniforms don't fit. Oh what memories the sight of the grey and red bring back. Joy is soon able to visit him in the 94th General Base Hospital in Algiers and this prompts a marriage proposal and soon we are reading about the hurdles the couple had to overcome in their relationship and with military bureaucracy. This included Joy having to ask permission from her Matron, Miss Blore of the Territorial Army Nursing Service and gaining a licence from the Consul.
The personal theme continues with Joy's daughter, Jane E K Clark, adding explanations to explain gaps in letters or additional information to seamlessly continue this wartime romance. This includes an account of the first civilian child to be administered the recently invented and manufactured penicillin and how this new antibiotic was administered. Even Joy's brother, Freddie, who served with the 8th Army, is able to surprise Joy and Tony on separate occasions to truly make this a family book.
We learn about the difficulties QAs had in setting up the new tented 103 field hospital and the problems faced in their tented accommodation such as weather, malaria, dysentery, sandstorms, wildlife and rations. This includes an interesting section of brewing up tea with an old petrol can and then having to nurse 200 patients. Her kind nature is shown when she helps her General Duty Orderly (GDO) gain qualifications and a much needed pay rise for his family.
Before saying farewell to the desert, the tents and the everlasting SAND, flies, lizards - camping is out for me forever.
Tony is soon in the thick of it again and is wounded at the Salerno Landings but is soon discharged and posted to the Incident Response Training Department (IRTD) at Philippeville. The couple correspond by letter and are able to spend some time together at the Transit Hotel in Constantine, where they enjoyed dinner at the Casino whilst listening to their orchestra.
Back on nursing duties Joy now has a new TANS Matron, Miss Simpson:
Feeling rather miserable. Reported back to Miss Simpson, our new Matron, TAN and fortyish. She arrived last week. Of course, she didn't know me, and seemed very surprised that I had been on leave. Not only surprised, but outraged! I had a distinct feeling of unfriendliness here, obviously hadn't been told of my absence. Explained the situation, husband on leave so I got leave. She certainly didn't approve of such 'goings on'. Of course, in her day, nurses didn't marry. If they did, they left!! Not a good beginning.
The couple are soon to be separated when Joy is posted to Italy and sails on His Majesty's Hospital Ship Dorsetshire.
7am sailing into the breath-taking beauty of the Bay of Naples, calm sea now and the sun is shining brightly but then as we get closer, we notice that the harbour is littered with damaged ships, the buildings behind in ruins. Impossible for ship to dock properly, gets as close as possible. Ropes are fixed across and we had to clamber over upturned ships' bottoms (!) clinging to the ropes - very slippery, very scary! Helped up onto the dockside, man-handled really! However, we got there and found several ambulances waiting to transport us further. Drove away through crowds of people shouting and throwing flowers at us. What a welcome!
Joy is driven through the battle scarred streets to Castellamare Transit Camp which was used as a German military hospital during their occupation. New problems to overcome are rats, fleas, lice and the bitter cold. Soon though, as the dramatic front cover reveals, nature takes over and Mount Vesuvius erupts. Whilst Joy and her colleagues battle nature whilst treating casualties at a hospital in Nocera, in which they are ordered to save themselves and not their patients if there is an earthquake as they will be of more use to a greater number of survivors, Tony takes part in the Battle of Anzio. Amongst this mayhem Joy discovers that she is pregnant and is posted to the 104th Base Hospital where the Sisters' Mess is a much more comfortable converted villa. She is then sent home aboard the converted cargo ship EI NIL. Though Joy has now left the QAs to safely have her baby, Josephine, back in Britain, their story continues with their letters. This includes Joy's accounts of the V2 flying bombs hitting London and Kent and Tony joining the Special Boat Service and another spell as a patient in the 98th GH.
I would thoroughly recommend Sister Sunshine: A Wartime Romance to anyone with an interest in the Second World War and military nursing to gain a rare insight into the personal lives of those who fought and nursed.
More Book Reviews.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
What if the loss of a child was not every parent's worst nightmare?
Hamish and Alison wake to some awful news from the police banging at their door, but what if their trauma was only just beginning?
Read how these former army nurses copes with their grief through to a terrifying ending.
Buried in Grief is my new novel, available in Paperback or Kindle and other devices.
Read the Opening Chapter for Free.
If you like this page and would like to easily share it with your friends and family please use the social networking buttons below:
Forces War Records
Forces War Records are a genealogy site where you can find military records of over 6 million British Armed Forces personnel cross matched with over 4000 Regiments, Bases and Ships. This link includes a free search and a special discount of 40% off membership offer for visitors who use the discount code AF40 if they decide to become a member.
Search Now. A unique feature is their WW1 Soldiers Medical Records section.
If you would like to contribute to this page, suggest changes or inclusions to this website or would like to send me a photograph then please e-mail me.
This website is not affiliated or endorsed by The Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) or the Ministry of Defence.
» Poppy Lottery
» The Grey Lady Ghost of the Cambridge Military Hospital Novel - a Book by CG Buswell
» The Drummer Boy Novel
» Regimental Cap Badges Paintings
Read our posts on:
» Army Discounts
» Help For Heroes Discount Code
» Commemorative Cover BFPS 70th anniversary QARANC Association
» Become An Army Nurse
» Junior Ranks
» Officer Ranks
» Service Numbers
Ministry of Defence Hospital Units
» MDHU Derriford
» MDHU Frimley Park
» MDHU Northallerton
» MDHU Peterborough
» MDHU Portsmouth
» RCDM Birmingham
» Army Reserve QARANC
» Florence Nightingale Plaque
» Why QA's Wear Grey
» First Time Nurses Wore Trousers AV Anti Vermin Battledress
» TRF Tactical Recognition Flash Badge
» Greatcoat TFNS
» Lapel Pin Badge
» Army School of Psychiatric Nursing Silver Badge
» Cap Badge
» Corps Belt
» ID Bracelet
» Silver War Badge WWI
» Officer's Cloak
» QAIMNSR Tippet
» QAIMNS and Reserve Uniform World War One
» Officer Medal
» Hospital Blues Uniform WW1
» Armed Forces Day
» Edinburgh Fringe Stage Play I'll Tell You This for Nothing - My Mother the War Hero
» Match For Heroes
» Recreated WWI Ward
» Corps Day
» Freedom of Rushmoor
» Re-enactment Groups
» Military Events
» AMS Carol Service
» QARANC Association Pilgrimage to Singapore and Malaysia 2009
» Doctors and Nurses at War
» War and Medicine Exhibition
» International Conference on Disaster and Military Medicine DiMiMED
» QA Uniform Exhibition Nothe Fort Weymouth
» Dame Margot Turner
» Dame Maud McCarthy
» Lt Col Maureen Gara
» Military Medal Awards To QAs
» Moment of Truth TV Documentary
» Sean Beech
» Staff Nurse Ella Kate Cooke
International Nurses Day
» Site Map
» Other Websites
» Walter Mitty Military Imposters
» The Abandoned Soldier
We are seeking help with some answers to questions sent by readers. These can be found on the Army Nursing page.
» Find QA's
» Personalised Poster
» Poppy Badges
» Teddy Bears
» Pin Badges
» Wall Plaques
» Fridge Magnet