Battle Lines

ISBN 978-0-9572772-2-9 P Out of print





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Lya Turner was born in 1928 in Nõmme near Tallinn in Estonia.


She had to leave her country because of the war and came to England in 1947. She worked for a family for a few years. She then did her nurses’ training in London, where she met her husband. Lya has 6 children and 7 grandchildren.

From 1969 to 1991 she worked as a Staff Nurse, mainly on night shifts, in Cookham Ward at Battle Hospital, Reading. She specialised in rheumatology, covering most of the 200 varieties of arthritis. During her time at Battle she cared for over twenty thousand patients.

It was here that she met colleagues, many of whom became lifelong friends. She is still in touch with many of them today and some have helped in compiling this book.

Her experiences on the ward inspired her to draw her cartoons which, in a humorous, but gently critical way, chronicle the changes that were taking place in the NHS at the time, as bureaucracy proliferated and cuts began to bite. She also drew birthday cards for her patients, many of whom remember her and Cookham Ward with great fondness.


The book reproduces these cartoons but also includes memories not just from Lya and other nurses but also from patients and doctors involved in this historic period in the development of the NHS.


The booklet should become an important historical resource for anyone interested not just in the NHS in Reading but at a national level.

Today Lya is involved with Arthros, a charity she helped to set up. This provides practical help for younger people with arthritis.

The profits from this book are going to the Arthros Charity.