Frances Hardy for the Daily Mail
War surgeon David Nott had just returned from the front line in Syria when he went for lunch with the Queen. He had been operating in a makeshift hospital in Aleppo, centre of the fiercest and most devastating fighting in the Syrian civil war, as barrel bombs rained down on the city two years ago. His life was constantly imperilled as he strove to save civilians — the majority of them children — critically injured in the fallout.
As he walked into Buckingham Palace ten days later, horrific images from the conflict flickered through his mind.
And when the Queen — who had appointed him OBE two years earlier — asked him about his voluntary work in Aleppo, tears threatened to choke him. He couldn’t speak. ‘I was thinking about the day when seven children from one family were brought into the hospital,’ he recalls.
‘Their mother was dead and one of her sons had his buttocks blown off. He was still alive and he had white blobs on his face. These were his sister’s brains. It was the most pitiful sight I’d seen in 20 years operating in war zones. I couldn’t save him. All I could do was comfort him and hold his hand.
‘When the Queen asked, ‘What was it like in Aleppo?’ I could feel my bottom lip quivering. I couldn’t say a word. ‘There’s no doubt I was suffering from post-traumatic stress. All I could do was stare long and hard at the wall.’
It was then that Her Majesty showed both her sensitivity and humanity. ‘She realised something was terribly wrong and said she’d try to help me,’ David says. ‘She started talking about her dogs and asked if I’d like to see them. I said I would.
Read the full article here.