• 30 Australian Red Cross VADs sent to England in 1916:

Following a request for help from the British Red Cross, 30 Australian Red Cross VADs were sent to England to serve as probationers in military hospitals. Ten ladies were selected from NSW, nine from Vic, three each from Tas, SA and WA, and two from Qld. They embarked from around Australia on the Osterley, and finally left the WA coast on the 4/10/1916, arriving in London on the 10/11/1916. Miss Olive Hiles from Sth Australia was given charge of the detachment. On arrival in England only twenty-eight were actually posted to English hospitals; Olive Hiles and Beatrice Bruce Smith were sent to Rouen, France. The 30 Australian Red Cross V.A.D.s were: NSW = 10; VIC = 9; TAS = 3; SA = 3; WA = 3; QLD = 2; ARMSTRONG, (Mary) Enid (MID) [NSW] **BAGE, Jessie Eleanor (OBE) [VIC] BAILEY, Eileen Brooke [TAS emb VIC] BENNETT, Rose (Rosey) [SA] BLACK, Emily Louisa (Louie) [NSW] BLACK, Kathleen Elsie [VIC] BOWERS, Emma Ethel (Amy) [WA] **BRENNAN, Kathleen Adele (DOS) [NSW] **BRUCE, Lydia (Mrs, nee Searl) [WA] COX, Millie [VIC] DARVALL, Jean (Annie Emily Jane) (MID) [QLD] DOUGLAS, Henrietta Catherine Annie (Etta) [TAS emb VIC] *EVANS, Ida Maud [WA] FISHER, Ellen Jane (Nellie) [TAS] FULLER, Doris Bates [VIC] GIBLIN, Kathleen Colbeck [NSW] GRANT, Lydia William Falconar (DOS) [QLD] *HALL, Ethel Crawford [SA] HILES, Olive May [SA] HILL, Nancy (Mrs Grant) [NSW] LEARY, Edith Louise / Lucy (Lulu) [NSW] MARSHALL, Doris Susan Margaret [VIC] *McALLISTER, Mary [NSW] **MOORE, Margaret [VIC] **PITT, Elizabeth Collingwood (Dolly) [VIC] ROUND, Ruby Langford [VIC] SMITH, Beatrice Bruce (Beatrix, Trixie) [NSW] STEED, Alice [NSW] **STEVENSON, Edith Louise (MID) [NSW] **SWALLOW, Dorothy Frances [VIC] The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Fri 4 Aug 1916 (p.6): ENGLISH HOSPITALS PROBATIONARY NURSES WANTED MELBOURNE, Thursday The chairman of the joint war committee of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John cabled to her Excellency Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, asking whether she could find 30 members of the Red Cross Voluntary Aid detachments holding the St John certificate who were willing to serve as probationers in military hospitals in England. In peace times the probationers are not appointed to such hospitals, the work being done by orderlies; but, every able-bodied man being now called to the colours, probationers will take their place, and will be employed in military as in civil hospitals. The demand on women’s labour in England is now very great, as thousands are taking part in munition works and in agriculture. The home authorities are, therefore, asking for assistance from the young women of the dominions. The candidates will come from all parts of Australia. The conditions laid won [sic] are that they must be between the ages of 23 and 38, must hold certificates for first aid and home nursing, and have good health, and a good education. Truth (Brisbane, Qld), Sun 6 Aug 1916 (p.2): Gossip – Social and Otherwise By public advertisement, Mrs Goertz, of Selby House, announces that henceforth and for ever more she will be known as Mrs Darvall. Mrs Goertz was a Miss Tully, and her mother’s maiden name was Darvall, so that if the lady objects to her foreign sounding handle, there is no reason why she shouldn’t have an English one in place of it. Her daughter, a clever and pretty young Queenslander, who has a B.A. degree, won at our own University, is one of the two Queensland girls who have been chosen from Voluntary Aid Detachment ranks to go to England and work in hospitals there. Her cousin, Miss Grant, is the other. Nothing but pure patriotism could be at the root of their desire to undertake this work, which is very had and tiring, while the payment is £20 a year. Miss Darvall and Miss Grant will wait on the nurses, hand bandages, etc., and clean up. Not a pleasant task, so here’s good luck to them. Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW), Thur 10 Aug 1916 (p.26): IN THE WINTER GARDEN – SOCIAL CHAT – by COLLEEN The selection of the ten voluntary aids from New South Wales to be sent to England at the expense of the Government to act as probationers in the military hospitals on the other side has naturally caused some heartburnings amongst those not chosen. Quite a number of the selected were trainees of St Vincent’s Hospital. They leave by the Osterley at the end of the month, and their term of service is for eight months. The Misses Bruce Smith, Giblin, Nancy Hill, Adele Brennan, Enid Armstrong, Stephenson, Stead, and McAlister are the girls, whom fortune has favoured, to represent New South Wales in the batch of the V.A.D.’s which will include as well ten girls from each of the other States. Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas), Mon 4 Sept 1916 (p.4): PROBATIONARY NURSES FOR ENGLAND Thirty members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, selected by the Red Cross Society to act as probationers in English military hospitals, will leave Melbourne by the R.M.S. Osterley for London on September 27. Those from Tasmania are Misses E. Bailey, H. Douglas, and E. Fisher. The names of those from the other States are: From Victoria: Misses M. Cox, E. Pitt, M. Moore, J.E. Bage, D. Marshall, D. Fuller, D. Swallow, K. Black, and R. Round. From New South Wales: Misses M. Armstrong, A. Stead, K. Gibbin, E. Stevenson, E. Leary, E. Black, N. Hill, K. Brennan, B. Bruce Smith, and M. McAllister. From South Australia: Misses O. Hiles, R. Bennett, and E. Hall. From Queensland: Misses J. Darvall and L. Grant. From Western Australia: Mrs Bruce, Misses Evans and Bowers. The West Australian (Perth, WA), Fri 15 Sept 1916 (p.6): Red Cross Nurses for the Front – By the RMS Osterley, leaving for Europe early next month, 40 VAD nurses will be leaving Australia for the front. Of this number, three, namely, Nurse Bruce, Nurse Evans, and Nurse Bowers, have been selected from Western Australia. The Nursing Division of the St John Ambulance, which is co-operating with the Red Cross in this matter, will tender the selected nurses a farewell social before their departure. The Queenslander (Brisbane), Sat 16 Sept 1916 (p.6): MEETING OF THE GENERAL COMMITTEE A meeting of the General Committee of the Red Cross Society was held in the B.M.A. rooms last week, ………………………….. Misses Jean Darvall and Grant, members of the V.A.D., selected to take positions in the home hospitals, would leave by the Osterley, it was reported, about the middle of September. The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 19 Sept 1916 (p.5): RED CROSS NURSES WILL WORK IN ENGLAND NINE MELBOURNE VOLUNTEERS SELECTED FOR SERVICE Thirty members of the voluntary aid detachment selected by the Red Cross Society will leave for London by the Osterley on September 27. Victoria has nine representatives – Miss Elizabeth (Dolly) Pitt, daughter of Mr W. Pitt, Abbotsford; Miss Dorothy Swallow, Wattletree road, Malvern; Miss R. Round, Fawkner Mansions, South Yarra; Miss Jessie Bage, daughter of Dr Charles Bage, South Yarra; Miss Doris Marshall, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Alexander Marshall, Armadale; Miss M. Moore, daughter of Dr. W. Moore, Canterbury; Miss Doris Fuller, Miss Kathleen Black, and Miss M. Cox. Six of these volunteers trained under Matron Davies at the Red Cross Rest Home, Wirth’s Park. Before being accepted for service there they had to secure the St John first aid and nursing certificates. Miss Pitt was among the first probationers selected for service at this home. For her excellent service she was appointed a sister there in February. One of her duties in the early days of her training was to serve breakfast at 7.35. For five months she carried out this work to the satisfaction of everybody concerned. Miss Pitt holds a cookery diploma in addition to the necessary nursing credentials. “I cannot speak too highly of Sister Pitt’s work,” is her recommendation given by the matron. Miss Dorothy Swallow has a winsome personality, and has been a general favorite at the home. She holds a cookery certificate and the St John Association medallion. For many months she has been engaged in domestic tasks. For the last eight months Miss R. Round has been associated with the home, principally in the roll of waitress. Miss Kathleen Black has worked in various capacities. She has devoted so much attention to the laundry department that those in authority declare that she is thoroughly competent to take entire charge of an up-to-date steam laundry. Another volunteer who has done excellent laundry work is Miss Doris Marshall. She has also given valuable service in the dining-room. Miss Jessie Bage has been associated with the home since its inauguration, on October 16, 1915, and latterly has been on dormitory duty. Miss Moore and Miss Fuller were probationers at “Highton” Red Cross Rest Home, Camberwell. The terms of service are £20 a year, with £4 allowance for uniform. Reasonable expenses will be provided from the time the probationers land in England until they are placed in hospitals. [Article contains photos of: E. Pitt; D. Swallow; R. Round; J. Bage and K. Black] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/242375080 Critic (Hobart, Tas), Fri 22 Sept 1916 (p.3): Social News Miss Nellie Fisher and Miss Eileen Bailey, the two V.A.D. nurses chosen from Southern Tasmania, leave Hobart on Saturday to catch the Osterley from Melbourne on Wednesday nest. The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Mon 25 Sept 1916 (p.8): RED CROSS NURSES PROBATIONERS FOR ENGLAND The following probationers left Sydney by the RMS Osterley on Saturday for England, as the result of arrangements made by the Red Cross Society, at the invitation of the British Society:- St Vincent‘s Hospital Voluntary Aid detachment: Miss Steed (Greenwich), Miss Brennan (Double Bay), Miss Leary (Ocean-street), Miss Hill (Macleay-street). Roseville Voluntary Aid detachment: Miss Black (Chatswood), Miss M’Allister (Roseville), Miss Giblin (Roseville). Other voluntary aid detachments: Miss Bruce-Smith (Burradoo), Miss Stevenson (Moss Vale), Miss Armstrong (Roslyn Gardens). The chairman of the New South Wales district of the Red Cross Society (Mr J.O. Fairfax), and other members of the executive were on the wharf to bid farewell to the nurses. A large number of relations and friends were also present, and the nurses were the recipients of numerous floral tributes and other gifts. Her Excellency Lady Helen Munro Ferguson (president of the Australian Branch of the Red Cross Society) will entertain them in Melbourne to-day. The girls have been specially chosen because of the good work they have already done. In all 30 are being sent from Australia. [Miss Leary and Miss McAllister were not in the group photo taken before embarkation – and are actually shown on the passenger list as embarking Melbourne – so although working & selected from Sydney – possibly returned to Melb to visit family before leaving??] The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Wed 27 Sept 1916 (p.5): Of the 30 members of the voluntary aid detachment selected by the Red Cross Society, to act as probationers in England, Victoria has nine representatives: - Miss Elizabeth (Dollie) Pitt, Miss Dorothy Swallow, Miss R. Round, Miss Jessie Bage (daughter of Dr Charles Bage), Miss Doris Marshall (daughter of the Rev Dr Alexander Marshall), Miss M Moore, Miss Doris Fuller, Miss Katherine Black, and Miss M Cox. They leave for London by the Osterley on September 27. Crititc (Adelaide, SA), Wed 27 Sept 1916 (p.21): Society Gossip The Misses Olive Hiles, Ethel Hall, and Rose Bennett leave by the “Osterley” for London this week. Western Mail (Perth, WA), Fri 6 Oct 1916 (p.38): A WOMAN’S MELBOURNE LETTER Melbourne, Sept 27 On Monday afternoon, Her Excellency, Lady Helen Munro-Ferguson gave a charming afternoon tea party, to the Australian volunteer workers, who have been selected from the V.A.D. for special war work in England. The party was quite informal, and the drawing-room, in which Her Excellency received her guests looked particularly attractive after coming in from the cold, driving rain which swept over everything. The request for these thirty capable girls is perhaps the greatest tribute to Australian womanhood ever paid by Great Britain. Everywhere the capability of Australian volunteer workers is being recognised. Australian nurses, who have served in English hospitals, say that in comparison with the training required before our nurses receive their certificate, the English qualification is very meagre. “In fact,” said one nurse, who was at the front for two years, “what they call a nurse there we, in Australia, would simply deem an attendant. It is said the English nurses do not seem able to take any initiative, and if anything goes wrong with the patient, the majority can do nothing without a doctor.” The members of the V.A.D. are not fully-fledged nurses, but all have their St John Ambulance certificate and can “run” anything, for an up-to-date laundry, to a travelling kitchen. They have done invaluable work at the various rest homes, from which they have been chosen, and all are strong, well educated ladies, with money of their own to fall back upon in case of necessity. Her Excellency wished them God speed, and a safe return covered with the honour of glorious achievement. The volunteers leave by the Osterley to-day. Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW), Thur 16 Nov 1916 (p.28): IN THE WINTER GARDEN – SOCIAL CHAT – by COLLEEN Friends of the first detachment of V.A.D.’s who left Sydney recently by the Osterley, were glad to hear the cabled news of the safe arrival of that vessel at Gravesend, London, which came through on Saturday. The Misses Adele Brennan, Leary, Nancy Hill, and Enid Armstrong were some of the “aids” from Sydney who went over to work for the soldiers in the big smoke. National Leader (Brisbane, Qld), Fri 19 Jan 1917 (p.2): V.A.D. One of our Queensland V.A.D.’s writes to Mrs Anderson (hon. secretary Red Cross Society) as follows: – Princess-street, Manchester Military Hospital Dear Mrs Anderson – I have been waiting to write to you till we got settled actually in hospital. We were all very glad to arrive in Plymouth safely just about eight weeks since we left Brisbane. The last few days were very rough – luckily for us, as it made the danger from submarines much less. As it was, we were supposed to have been chased for four hours one morning. We didn’t know about it at the time, of course, but we heard afterwards that the sub left us to go after an American boat, and got it. We had a very busy week in London. They put us up at the Queen Mary Hostel for Nurses in Bedford-place. We reported at Devonshire House, the Red Cross headquarters, the first morning, and we two Queenslanders and the Tasmanian and South Australian girls were allotted to Manchester. We were the first to have our fate settled, and felt very sad leaving the others after being with them all so much on the boat. The rest of the week was a dreadful rush getting uniforms and seeing as much as we could of London. The Duke of Portland is patron of the hostel, and he sent the whole 30 of us to two theatres, and had two afternoon teas for us. There were several trips to hospitals arranged, too, but, what with trying to see our friends and get uniforms together, we couldn’t manage them all. The day we left London we heard that some of the other girls were going to Leicester, some of [sic] Staffordshire, Leeds, Southampton, and four lucky ones to King George’s Hospital in London. ……………………………………… From a letter in Adele Brennan’s NAA file (p.21), from the Secretary of the Australian Red Cross Society to the Officer i/c Base Records, dated 25/11/1921: “In response to your letter of 23rd inst., I beg to advise that in 1916 the British Red Cross Society cabled asking the Australian Red Cross to send a Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment of 30 members to help as probationers in Military Hospitals in England. The Australian Red Cross Society complied with this request, and the late Miss Adele Brennan was one of the members of the Detachment, which went forward some months later. On arriving in England the members of the Detachment were posted to hospitals by the British War Office, and were paid £24 a year by the Government. ………………………………………………………………… You might like to inform Miss Brennan’s father that we understand that all Australian V.A.D. members who served overseas are entitled to the British War Medal, and also that the British Red Cross Society have decided to give a special war service badge to V.A.D. members.” Heather 'Frev' Ford
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