About Operation Nightingale
Operation Nightingale resulted from a conversation between Richard Osgood, Senior Historic Advisor within the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) of the Ministry of Defence and Sergeant Diarmaid Walshe of the 1st Battalion The Rifles.
Sergeant Diarmaid Walshe is responsible for the medical care and treatment of soldiers, including injured personnel returned from operations overseas. He identified a growing need for some form of occupational therapy and rehabilitation. As an archaeologist, he recognised that archaeology has many elements that could help address some of the complex needs of these soldiers and their ailments.
In summer 2011, they jointly developed a project to utilise both the technical and social aspects of field archaeology to help rehabilitation of soldiers injured in Afghanistan. In a nod to one of the most famous figures in military medicine, it was codenamed “Operation Nightingale”.
There is a close correlation between the skills required by a modern soldier and those of the professional archaeologist. These skills include:
- Surveying, geophysics (for ordnance recovering or revealing cultural heritage sites);
- Scrutiny of the ground (for improvised explosive devices or artefacts);
- Site and team management;
- Mapping and navigation;
- The ability to cope with hard manual work and bad weather.
Operation Nightingale’s soldiers have been involved in a wide variety of projects led by the army, or working in collaboration with heritage organisations such as Archtools, Butser Ancient Farm, CADW, Canterbury Archaeological Trust, Council for British Archaeology, Cranfield University, Daily Heritage, English Heritage, Mortimer, The Churches Conservation Trust, The Roman Baths, University of Leicester and Wessex Archaeology. In addition companies and charities such as The Rifles Charities, Care for Casualties, Help for Heroes and Waitrose have supported the project.
You can read more about these projects on The Defence Military Archaeology Society’s website http://www.dmasuk.org/.
Our Operation Nightingale/Project Florence blog will keep you informed of our past and current work on the project.