Stories of medical bravery under fire up for top book award


Stories of medical bravery under fire up for top book award

Chessie Henry and brothers, supplied
Family photo of Chessie Henry and her brothers in Tokelau [supplied]
Two books shining a light into the lives of health practitioners working in untenable situations, whether it be under fire, in an earthquake, or isola


Of the three double-awards for the Victoria Cross, only Charles Upham was a "combat soldier". The other two were both doctors - Surgeon Captain Arthur Martin-Leake, VC and Bar, and Captain Noel Chavasse, VC and Bar. The only woman to have been awarded a Victoria Cross was a nurse, Elizabeth Webber Harris, in 1869. Elizabeth Harris is the only recipient of a gold rather than bronze VC as until 1921 woman could not be awarded the VC! The officers of the regiment she treated petitioned Queen Victoria who issued a special warrant for her medal to be cast.

The only woman to have been awarded the Medal of Honour in the United States is Dr Mary Walker.

I’d strongly recommend Chessie Henry’s book. It’s an inspiring story of the importance of family and connection with others in building resilience, written with humour and a rolling turn of phrase that kept me turning the pages. 

GPs the world over will find resonances here although it’s an extraordinary story of an extraordinary doctor and his extraordinary family living through extraordinary times.