Mosman nurses at war

Bernard, 10 October 2012 · # ·

Harefield, England. Eight patients from Ward 40, No 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, photographed in the grounds of the hospital with Sister Ruby Dickinson. AWM H16039

What did WWI military nurses do?

Dr Kirsty Harris gave us an insight at Mosman Library in September. Her book More Than Bombs and Bandages is a history of their medical practice, and we were fortunate to benefit from her extensive research.

Kirsty has identified 30 nurses with a Mosman connection.

  • They served in New Guinea, Egypt, Palestine, Greece, Salonika, India, England, France and Belgium, with Australian, British and Canadian units, on hospital ships, transports and ambulance trains, at casualty clearing stations near the front lines and at base hospitals.
  • Their work ranged from something akin to a quartermaster, providing quarters and rations to their units, to administering anesthesia and assisting in operations, sometimes under aerial bombardment and shellfire.
  • Sister Henrietta Dillon was a masseuse, an early practitioner of what we’d now call physiotherapy.
  • Sister Ruby Dickinson died on active service and is buried at Harefield Parish churchyard in England.

The experience of the Mosman women was representative, said Kirsty, of the nursing service as a whole.

WWI military nurses with a Mosman connection

Last Name First Names Service Title
Andrews Jessie Mary Busby AANS SN
Bass Marie Madeline Goullee AANS SN
Bowman May Isabel [called Isabel] AANS SN/Sr
Bruun Alice D’Arcy AANS SN
Callow Gertrude May AANS SN
Chapman Mary QAIMNSR SN
Chapman Minnie Logie [actually Jemima] QAIMNSR SN/Sr
Cockburn Clarence Kathleen [also just Kathleen] AANS SN
Davey Alice AANS SN/Sr
Dawson Helen Frances AANS SN/Sr
Dickinson Ruby AANS SN
Dillon Henrietta AANS Masseuse/SN
Earl Ruth Halson AANS SN/Sr
Farquhar Anne Georgina Gordon AANS SN/Sr
Fletcher Mary Bowden Red Cross VAD
Gillespie Clare AANS SN
Houlgrave Ellis Mary AANS SN
Meggy Margaret Helen [or just Helen] AANS SN
Morehead Ada Alice AANS SN/Sr
Morrice Nellie Constance AANS Sr/Hd Sr
Nash Mary AANS Sr
Newland Mary Ethel [known as Ethel] HS/TF/HS SN
Overell Doris Sarah Nightingale AANS SN
Paton Annie RW QAIMNSR Sr
Rennie Edith Harriett AANS SN
Saunders Hinemoa Isie Louise AANS SN
Scanlan Alice Maud AANS SN/Sr
Small Gladys Miranda AANS SN/Sr
Waugh Julian Lindsay da Silva BRC VAD
West Annie Elizabeth [Major-] AANS SN

Review & further reading

Christine Bramble, whose book Sisters of the valley : First World War nurses from Newcastle and the Hunter Region includes, we found out on the night, the great aunt of our Local Studies Librarian, wrote:

I really enjoyed Kirsty Harris’s talk last Wednesday – well worth the trip from Newcastle. Having done quite a bit of research on the topic of WW1 nurses I had a lot of background beforehand but it is always worthwhile listening to an individual researcher’s perspective and the aspects they choose to focus on. And you always pick up something you didn’t know before – in this case a photo of one of ‘my’ nurses and a relative of another one in the audience. A well-prepared talk of this length for a general audience is a good way of being reminded of the wood as opposed to the trees. It was a great intro to the topic for any newcomers – my two travelling companions both got a lot out of it.

Dr Harris’ book More than bombs and bandages : Australian Army nurses at work in World War I is available for loan at Mosman Library.