Bernie MapstoneBMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c2416 (Published 05 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2416
- Wendy Moore
Defying convention throughout her life, Captain Bernie Mapstone, who has died at the age of 95, was the first woman medical officer to serve with a Guards regiment and the only female medical officer in north Africa when she arrived there in 1946.
Although she grew up in modest circumstances in Ireland at a time when women had to choose between marriage or a career, Bernie Noone, as she then was, succeeded in entering medicine and later the army.
Born in Ahascragh, County Galway, in 1914, the eldest child of the village postmaster, she was baptised Bridget Bernard Noone—her middle name being the result of confusion or collusion between her father and the parish priest—but was always known as Bernie. She attended the local convent school, where she proved herself academically gifted and became head girl. But with five younger sisters, and a brother in an institution after having meningitis, along with her mother’s death after a long illness, she knew that she would have to provide for the …