Routines at sea 2 - Hazards for QARNNS working onboard HMS Queen, 1940s

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Cynthia CookeCynthia Cooke

Service: 1943 - 1976

Rate: Matron-in-Chief QARNNS

Cynthia joined the QARNNS in 1943 as a Registered General Nurse. During the Second World War, she worked at RNH Haslar and HMS Collingwood, the latter during D-Day preparations. After the war she served on HMS Formidable and was involved in collecting ex-POWs from Japanese prison camps. She later became a Nurse Tutor teaching at RNH's Plymouth, Hong Kong and Malta. From 1973 until her retirement in 1976 she was Matron-in-Chief QARNNS.


Cynthia recalls a frightening incident onboard HMS Queen.


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Extract Text (Duration 1.29)

One night coming back through the Mediterranean we hadn't yet gone into blues, though we were ready to. It was getting very windy and cold and it was February, I mean, you know, we should really have gone to blues, but we got to the Med. But I went down Sick Bay at night to just see they were all tucked in, and I walked back over the flight deck because to get to my cabin and the Wardroom the other way you had to go through mess decks and they were all naked having showers and things, you know, I needed an escort really. So I came over the flight deck and I had got my cloak on because I was cold, and the wind got into my cloak and was blowing me to the side, it really was, I was quite frightened. They... a couple of chaps came down from the island, you know, the... the tower on the flight deck, to... to, you know, say to me..., I like had the presence of mind [laughs] to pull my cloak round me and get down on the deck, you know, I sort of slumped down, to get the wind out of my cloak. And these chaps came down, "We thought you was gone Ma'am," they said, they were really quite white to the lips, you know. It was quite an experience. I... after that I got an escort to take me to the Sick Bay and through these ablutions and things.

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