When the more than 2,000 nurses left Australia as volunteers on the troop carriers, they were single or widowed, under 35 years old, of impeccable behaviour, supplied their own uniforms and paid their own way. Some of the following six managed to make it onto Memorial Boards around the Hills district.
Sarah Mary Stafford of Seven Hills Rd, Baulkham Hills was the daughter of John Stafford, an orchardist and Sarah Niblock. She was trained at Royal Hospital for Women, received the Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal and died a single woman in Chatswood in 1962.
Clare Gillespie trained in Brisbane, remained single until her death in a Private Hospital in North Sydney in 1944 and was buried at Windsor. Julia Bligh Johnston who nursed during the terrible conditions of the South Africa and Natal during the Boer War as well as her effort in WW1 following training at Hawkesbury and Launceston was awarded the Royal Red Cross, 2nd class, the Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. She died in 1940 and was buried at Northern Suburbs Crematorium.
Elsie Sheppard-Cook (daughter-in-law of Sir Joseph Cook) trained at Royal Prince Alfred had flaunted the admission rules by being married when she applied for overseas service to Capt. George Sydney Cook. Her National Archives Military Record has not been digitised but would it would be presumed she at least received service medals. She died in 1972 at her family home in Point Piper.
Women Making a Difference: The Impact of Nurses on World War I
Nellie Worrall was born near Parramatta to John Worrall (Baulkham Hills Teacher) and Caroline Cresswell, trained at Royal Hospital for Women and had a short marriage to William Gow following overseas service, but no awards are listed in Australian sources but The National Archives UK hold a medal card. She served at Alexandria, Netley in UK, was Sister in charge of Ambulance Trains at Southampton. She was very active in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. She died in 1956 at Concord.
Minnie West was born at Parramatta to Francis west and Kathleen Hussey nee Greenup a significant name in the medical world. She trained at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and remained single. She was awarded the Greek Military Medal of Merit 4th Class and died in 1971.
‘Of the at least 2,286 – possibly 3,000 – AANS (Australian Army Nursing Service) members who served overseas in locations as diverse as England and India, Palestine, France, Belgium, Germany, South Persia, Italy, Dardanelles, Greece, Egypt …and in almost every theatre of war” “nearly two hundred AANS, Queen Alexandra’s, their Reserve and VADs (Voluntary Aid Detachment) died on Active Service between 1914 and 1918’.
Image and story credit to the The Hills District Historical Society