“The worst wound is to the face, when one is unable to eat” – WWII medic
Raisa Dyabina, a nurse from the Soviet Army, recalls badly wounded soldiers she was taking care of during the war.
“I still cry remembering them,” Dyabina says. “Perhaps, the worst wound is to the head, or a facial wound, when one is unable to eat properly. The wounds – they’re all bad. Cavity wounds, wounds to the belly or limbs… My first wounded patients arrived after a long trip, so their bandages got wet, and then dried, sticking to the wounds and skin – we had to help them and to cleanse the wounds.”
Nurses could only imagine how all their actions were hurting the wounded. They had to practically torture the injured, ripping off scabs, but that was the only way to help them.
“We evacuated the wounded from the frontline at night,” Dyabina remembers. “Usually they were carried by bus, but almost none of them could get on the bus on their own. So we had to carry them on stretchers. And the Germans had a very good reconnaissance patrol. They were always aware of our movements and knew that the approaching transport meant that we were planning to transfer the wounded. They fired a ground flare, which lights everything beneath it. And we, poor girls, carried the wounded. An alarm. Shelling. No chance of escaping with the wounded on our hands. We had to hide them and to find a shelter for ourselves as well.”
Another war veteran, Jean-Jacques Loos, who escaped the Wehrmacht to join the French Army remembers the war’s devastating experiences.
”We went through all the horrors of war,” he said. “I saw young men at the village outskirts, who were lying in pools of blood, and all they could say was “Ma… Ma…” – they were calling their mothers. You go through all that when you are just 18 and then, once the war is over, you go back to civilian life and you cannot talk about this to anybody. And that hurts.”