Netflix’s ‘Women at War’ is a moving story of women whose lives interconnect at the beginning of the First World War. Four women are at the forefront, and they take charge not only of their lives but also of the responsibility for other lives that have been affected by the war. Each of them struggles with their personal demons, and the events in their past cast a shadow on their future. But it does nothing to stop them from doing what’s right by others, saving many lives in the process. If you are wondering whether any of them is based on real people, then here’s what you should know about them and the work they do in Saint Paulin. SPOILERS AHEAD
Was Caroline Dewitt a Real Person?
No, Caroline Dewitt was not a real person, but she is the representation of very real people. When the men had to leave home to fight in the war, women often found themselves put in charge of the things that they were otherwise not deemed fit for. Caroline ends up in the same position when her husband Victor leaves to serve in the war, giving the responsibility of running his factory to her. The show extends the same struggle to the workers when they are called to war after their exemption papers don’t go through.
With no men left to work in the factory, Caroline proposes their wives take up the jobs in their stead. Women working at factories and taking other jobs that otherwise were not given to them was a common practice during the war when the option of hiring men was removed from the equation. The Netflix series sheds light on this, highlighting the capability of women, who are otherwise underestimated, while also showing how women took charge and played an important role in keeping everything in order and the country running, while men were on the battlefield.
Was Suzanne Faure a Real Nurse?
No, the character of Suzanne Faure is not based on a real nurse, but she was a natural choice for the writers when they conceived the show. Co-creator Cecile Lorne came up with the idea for ‘Women at War’ after watching a war documentary and wanted to write about women who hadn’t served in the war but were still connected to it in some ways. The character of the nurse appeared to be the most obvious choice, considering that a person with a medical background would be closer to the battlefield, which would put them closer to the action in the war.
Through Suzanne’s story, we also get to see the unbelievable pressure under which doctors and nurses had to work during the war, and how they had to make do with whatever resources they had. Suzanne Faure is an homage to all the nurses who served during the war, working under the constant threat of bullets and air bombardment and never leaving their posts, even when they had the option to leave.
Was Mother Agnes a Real Nun?
No, Mother Agnes is not based on a real nun. Her arc made its way into the plot through the convent that is turned into a military hospital. It happened a lot during the war when religious places like churches and convents and some stately homes were turned into hospitals or shelters. The nuns had to adapt quickly to this new reality where they would end up working as nurses, caring for the wounded with barely any experience in the matter.
There were also nursing sisters who rose to the task and became invaluable in saving many lives. Sister Julie, also known as Amélie Rigard, was one such nun in France who worked in a hospice and ensured the safety of people in her care when the Germans invaded their town and burned down everything in their way. The character of Mother Agnes in ‘Women at War’ represents the bravery and perseverance of such people.