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Historical context
Not everybody who
died during the war
died from gunshots. A
large proportion of Boer
War casualties were
caused by disease
rather than in battle. It
wasn't just men who
died but many of the
voluntary nurses who
were there to help.
Kipling, was a famous
poet and novelist, who
went to the war as a
reporter. He described
those nurses who died
as `little wasted bodies.'…read more

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Inspiration
Florence Nightingale's
work in the Crimean War
inspired generations of
nurses volunteering for
war service…read more

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Story of the poem
The poet asks the soldiers (and all
of us) to remember the
voluntary nurses who worked
so hard to heal the sick and
tend to the dying. Twice as
many died in the war from
Typhoid fever as died in battle.
The town of Uitvlugt was hit by
the plague in 1901/2. The poet
tells how the nurses worked so
hard that many themselves fell
sick and died from the disease.
Their `little wasted bodies'
were light to lower down into
the makeshift graves.…read more

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WHO recalls the twilight and the
rangèd tents in order
(Violet peaks uplifted through the
crystal evening air?)
And the clink of iron teacups and
the piteous, noble laughter,
And the faces of the Sisters with
the dust upon their hair?…read more

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(Who recalls the noontide and the
funerals through the market,(Blanket-
hidden bodies, flagless, followed by the
flies?) And the footsore firing-party,
and the dust and stench and staleness,
And the faces of the Sisters and the
glory in their eyes?…read more

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