• QAIMNSR Nurses who embarked on the HS Karoola in December 1915

In 1915 there were more nurses wishing to serve overseas than vacancies existed to join the Australian Army Nursing Service. Some individuals travelled overseas at their own expense and joined the various nursing services, but when the British War Office called for groups of Australian nurses to be sent to join Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR), the Commonwealth authorities organised enrolments amongst the States and sent them via the military hospital ships and transports. Two contingents were sent in April 1915 on the Malwa and the Orontes, followed by a third on the Mooltan in May. The fourth and final quota was sent to England in the December of 1915, and they embarked on the hospital ship Karoola on the 18th of December in Melbourne, and the 24th at Fremantle, bringing the total of this QAIMNSR contingent to forty three. As well as her regular staff, the ship was also carrying special reinforcements for the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital (1AAH), which was established at Harefield Park, London. The group of forty three nurses consisted of: ARTHUR, Mollie / Molly [Mary Ellen Aloysius] BRAY, Mary Adelaide CALVERT, Lucinda Mary (AARC) CRISFIELD, Jane Emma DENSON, Irene May (Whittington) (MID, ARRC) DOUGLAS, Madena Davis FURNIFULL, Sarah Margaret (MID) GEEVES, Edith Bernice GILCHRIST, Nora GORDON, Janet HEAP, Florence HEAP, Mary Clarkson HILL, Violet Gordon (TAYLOR) JACKSON, Annie Christina JOBSON, Isabella Kate (ARRC) JONES, Evaline Sarah JUDD, Helen (Ellen) Muriel KEOGH, Estelle Venner (RRC) LIMPUS, Florence Aloysius LOWREY, Olivia Annie McBRIDE, Gretta McDONALD, Euphemia McIVER, Sarah MILLER, Frances Mary NETTLE, Ida Josephine (COSGROVE) OUSLEY, Marguerite (MENNIE) POWER, Lucy Emmeline (SLINGSBY) REARDON, Florence Josephine ROSENTHAL, Leah (ARRC) ROUNTREE, Evangeline Amelia SARGENT, Amy Ruth SAW, Nellie Mabel SCOTT, Margaret Ann SUTHERLAND, Amy Gladys SUTHERLAND, Flora (Florence May) SWEENEY, Rose Ann TAYLOR, Gay Gertrude Edith (CLAYTON) THOMSON, Ada Mary Henrietta THORNTON, Eva Blanche (BRECHT) WALKER, Maud Lightfoot WEBSTER, Gladys Mary Beatrice (JACK) WILLDER, Nancy Sophia Derbin (MID) WILLIAMS, Ethel Mary The HS Karoola took her passengers, many of whom succumbed to seasickness on the journey, as far as Egypt where they disembarked at Suez on the 20th of January 1916 and were taken on to Cairo in a hospital train. After a week during which the nurses enjoyed the sights, they embarked (together with the 1AAH Reinforcements) in Alexandria on 28th January on the HS Nevassa which took them to Naples. Having now entered the more dangerous waters of the Mediterranean, Sarah McIver commented that “we slept in what we termed our drowning suits with our life belts handy.” At Naples they joined the HS Britannic which was collecting sick and wounded soldiers being brought from the Gallipoli Campaign to be transported to England. Although the Britannic had been built as a luxurious passenger liner, she had only just been hastily refitted as a hospital ship and was still very unfinished and rough for this purpose. Once on board the nurses were put on duty until their arrival at Southampton on the 9th of February. Upon disembarkation at Southampton the QAIMNSR group was split up and divided between five war hospitals: ten each to the 1st and 2nd Birmingham War Hospitals, ten to the Wharncliffe War Hospital at Sheffield, eight to the Lord Derby War Hospital at Warrington, and five to the Bagthorpe Military Hospital in Nottingham. The split was as follows: 1st Birmingham War Hospital, Rubery Hill: ARTHUR, Mollie / Molly [Mary Ellen Aloysius] DOUGLAS, Madena Davis FURNIFULL, Sarah Margaret (MID) GILCHRIST, Nora JUDD, Helen (Ellen) Muriel NETTLE, Ida Josephine (COSGROVE) REARDON, Florence Josephine SWEENEY, Rose Ann THORNTON, Eva Blanche (BRECHT) WEBSTER, Gladys Mary Beatrice (JACK) 2nd Birmingham War Hospital, Hollymoor: GORDON, Janet HEAP, Florence HEAP, Mary Clarkson JONES, Evaline Sarah LIMPUS, Florence Aloysius McBRIDE, Gretta MILLER, Frances Mary POWER, Lucy Emmeline (SLINGSBY) WILLDER, Nancy Sophia Derbin (MID) WILLIAMS, Ethel Mary Wharncliffe War Hospital, Sheffield: BRAY, Mary Adelaide CALVERT, Lucinda Mary (AARC) CRISFIELD, Jane Emma DENSON, Irene May (Whittington) (MID, ARRC) LOWREY, Olivia Annie McDONALD, Euphemia McIVER, Sarah ROUNTREE, Evangeline Amelia SAW, Nellie Mabel THOMSON, Ada Mary Henrietta Lord Derby War Hospital, Warrington: GEEVES, Edith Bernice JACKSON, Annie Christina OUSLEY, Marguerite (Mennie) SARGENT, Amy Ruth SCOTT, Margaret Ann SUTHERLAND, Amy Gladys SUTHERLAND, Flora (Florence May) WALKER, Maud Lightfoot Bagthorpe Military Hospital, Nottingham: HILL, Violet Gordon (TAYLOR) JOBSON, Isabella Kate (ARRC) KEOGH, Estelle Venner (RRC) ROSENTHAL, Leah (ARRC) TAYLOR, Gay Gertrude Edith (CLAYTON) Having been sent by train to their various hospitals, all nurses were posted for duty the following day of the 10th of February. Sarah McIver at the Wharncliffe War Hospital wrote that “After a few days we got ten days leave with pass for one way. Most of the sisters went to London, but two others and I went to Scotland,….” As time went by it was noted by Margaret Furnifull at the 1st Birmingham War Hospital: “There seemed to be no plans to send us to France and we feared we would be used to replace English nurses who wanted to go. So we protested to the Australian High Commissioner in London, Mr Andrew Fisher. We took up a petition and pointed out that we had come from Australia to serve with the Army. Finally it was arranged for us to go.” The majority of the group of 43 nurses were then sent to London where they received their uniforms and kit, and during the first week of April they embarked for France to join their new hospitals. Heather 'Frev' Ford