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Commemorating 75 years since the Birmingham Blitz

This November marks 75 years since the hospital was bombed during the blitz in the Second World War. fanny smithThe attack, which took place in the very early hours of the 23 November 1940 claimed the lives of two of our nurses – Sisters Galloway and Daniels, who were killed while eating their evening meal.

We wanted to mark the courage of those staff who did all they could to protect their colleagues and patients that night 75 years ago. It is astonishing that Matron Fanny Smith and her nurses managed to keep the hospital running during such a traumatic time.

To mark the anniversary of the bombing, we have released a short online film entitled Courage and Compassion, which features one of the hospital’s modern matrons reading Fanny Smith’s account of that night, as well as some historic footage of the hospital, alongside more modern images.


Matron Fanny Smith’s account

The patients who were in the side ward were not hurt, but one man had a slight cut on the forehead, and the beds were covered in glass. The patients were wonderfully brave, so many were helpless but none complained. The sisters and nurses worked hard to move the patients under cover of another ward. The cooks made tea for everyone.

One incendiary bomb fell between the Nurses’ Home and the Rabone Hall and was immediately extinguished by Sister Hyden. The rest of the nurses and maids were not told of the tragic circumstances [of the death of Sisters Galloway and Daniels] until they were called the next morning.

The gas was off for eight days, the water for nine days… Drinking water was fetched twice daily from Middlepark Road by Mrs Burton from Barnt Green who drove our lorry. The water and milk had to be boiled. The heating was off for 10 days.

Now and then

75 years on, many of the buildings mentioned in the account are still standing today, and nurses continue to be at the heart of the orthopaedic care we provide at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.
We’re so proud of our nurses, who work hard day in, day out, to care for the many patients who spend time here, undergoing minor and major procedures. Their role continues to be the lifeblood of our organisation, allowing us to provide first class services to people who come, in some instances, from all over the country.
Our crest, which is now more than 100 years old, contains a cross surrounded with laurel leaves. The cross represents courage and the leaves represent compassion. This is what connects the nurses back in 1940 and our nurses today.

From the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, to our nurses and to nurses everywhere; thank you.