• THE BLUEBIRDS – 20 RED CROSS NURSES AS A GIFT TO FRANCE

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Thur 29 Jun 1916 (p.8): TWENTY NURSES – GIFT TO FRANCE FROM RED CROSS SOCIETY – TO SAIL ON TUESDAY In deciding to send twenty nurses to France – not merely to nurse wounded and sick Australian soldiers, but to nurse wherever the French military authorities may require them – the New South Wales division of the Red Cross Society is taking a step which will meet with public approval. It is a gift to France. It is a recognition of the wonderful heroism of the French soldiers, who in beating back the enemy from the gates of Paris are not only fighting their own battle, but are also fighting ours – fighting, indeed, the battle of civilisation and freedom against a barbaric foe. France has been wonderful all through the war, but never quite so wonderful as now, in the face of the German battering-ram at Verdun. If the German losses there are enormous, we may be sure that the great battle is also taking a heavy toll among the French forces. The war is draining the manhood of France. If by sending nurses to that great country we can help in some measure to conserve its manhood, it is worth the doing; and that is the view of the Red Cross Society. Of trained nurses France has none too many. She is, indeed, deplorably short of them. When the cleavage between Church and State occurred, large numbers of devoted nursing sisters who were attached to the religious organisations were lost to France, and although no effort has been spared since the war broke out to train other women, the demand for competent nurses has been greater than the supply. That demand has greatly increased during recent months. MANY APPLICATIONS The Red Cross Society of New South Wales had previously considered the matter, but it was not till the return of Mr S.W. Thornton, who was until recently acting as secretary to the Red Cross Commissioners in Egypt, that the more or less nebulous ideas on the subject were crystallised into decisive action. Mr Thornton visited France before returning to Sydney, and he knows what the needs are. No sooner was it announced that the society proposed to despatch a large number of nurses to France than the proposal met with instant acceptance. It was taken up with the greatest enthusiasm, not only by members of the Red Cross Society throughout the State, but also by the nursing profession. Applications poured in. But the number of nurses to be sent away has been restricted to twenty – for the present, at all events. Where the qualifications were so generally excellent, the difficulty was to make the selection. But after a close examination of the credentials, backed up in many cases by personal interviews, the selection has now been made. The names are as follows: – Nurse Robinson, Sister Duffy, Nurse Hungerford, Nurse Alice Fullerton Gray, Sister Hughes, Nurse Jamieson, Nurse Moreton, Sister Sheridan, Sister Frazer Thompson, Sister Crommelin, Nurse Elfrieda Warner, Sister Norman, Nurse Helen Sutherland Wallace, Nurse Lynette Crozier, Sister Harris, Sister McKillop, Sister Cook, Sister Hough, Sister Loxton, and Nurse Hutchison. In addition to the nurses, a masseuse is being sent to France, and the choice has fallen on Miss Hamilton Moore, who has been highly recommended by leading members of the medical profession. THE SELECTED NURSES There were more applications from Sydney Hospital than from any other, and if all the applicants from the “Sydney” had been successful, that institution would have been faced with a serious problem – the filling up of the vacancies. As it is, three are being taken from this hospital – Sister Norman, Nurse Wallace, and Nurse Crozier. Three others, Sister Duffy, Nurse Moreton, and Nurse Warner, received their training there. Five are going from No. 4 Base Hospital, Randwick – Sister Hughes and Sister Sheridan (who were trained at St Vincent’s Hospital), Sister Thompson (trained at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), Sister McKillop (formerly of Queensland), and Sister Harris. Sisters Hough and Loxton are both well-known members of the nursing staff of the Children’s Hospital, whilst Nurse Hutchison, who has had experience as a matron in various parts of the State, was also trained at the Children’s Hospital. Sister Cook, who was trained at the Royal Prince Alfred, has been engaged in nursing in Egypt almost since the beginning of the war. Sister Crommelin, who was trained at the Lister Hospital, spent some months in nursing wounded and sick soldiers in Devonshire. Sister Duffy has spent some time in travelling in France. Nurse Warner spent a year in nursing at an American hospital established in France after the outbreak of war. Nurse Jamieson, who was trained at St Vincent’s, has latterly been engaged at the Military College, Duntroon. Nurse Gray, who was trained at the Coast Hospital, has been conducting a large private hospital in Lismore. Nurse Robinson is head of the Baby Clinic at North Sydney, and Nurse Hungerford is head of the Baby Clinic at Glebe. All the nurses who are going from the Randwick military hospital have been highly recommended by the matron. They will, of course, have to be demobilised. A.J.C.’S GENEROSITY Once again the A.J.C. has given evidence of that patriotic spirit which has characterised its members during the war. It has intimated its intention of paying for the maintenance of the 20 nurses in France for a period of six months – a matter of £1560. The Lismore branch of the Red Cross Society is giving £150. A first-class French teacher, Madame Niau, who has been connected with the State teaching staff, is to accompany the nurses. Throughout the Red Cross Society has been in close touch with Mdlle Soubeiran and other members of the French community in Sydney. Sister Warner, who spent a year in French military hospitals, has also been of valuable help to the society in stating exactly what the requirements are. Out of the total of 20, five have already served under war conditions – Sisters Warner, Cook, Thompson, Gray, and Crommelin. A NEW UNIFORM A departure has been made from the well-known uniform of the nurses, with a view to doing away with the cape coats and obviating the necessity of wearing any outer coat, unless, of course, the weather should demand it. As these nurses are not permitted to wear anything approaching the military uniform in colour, the Red Cross Society has decided on a neat dark blue uniform, consisting of a Norfolk coat and skirt, with a very slight piping of pale blue on collar and on coat-sleeve. The same colour is shown again in a hat band on a very dark blue felt hat. A comfortable double-breasted military overcoat of dark blue, lined with white satin, is to be provided, and this will be worn when necessary; but the lighter coat and skirt will really be a uniform in itself. The indoor uniform is a pretty dark blue striped zephyr. To the outfit given by the society three dark blue aprons are added of the same material, for working purposes. White belts complete a very serviceable indoor uniform. The whole of the 20 nurses, it is pleasing to note, are delighted with the choice of uniform, commenting on its neatness and suitablility. Special badges have been designed. Ove a red cross is the word “Australia,” and under it the words “New South Wales.” Miss Egan, who supervises the Red Cross packing department, is allotting to each nurse a selection of useful hospital requisites, and the workers at the “Old Linen Depot,” are also to be asked to contribute something. Thus each of the nurses arriving in France, will be, so to speak, a self-contained unit, able to proceed straight away to any hospital to which she may be sent. As regards pay, the nurses will be on exactly the same footing as the military staff nurses. It is hoped that the nurses will be able to leave by the hospital ship Kanowna on Tuesday next. OUR BEST FOR FRANCE We are giving to France of our best. We have sent many of our best soldiers to France, and the cables tell us that they are showing once again the qualities that made them famous on Gallipoli. And now we are sending some of our best nurses. “Look at the way girls have given up fussing over clothes and things, and taken to nursing,” says our friend, Bobby Little, in “The First Hundred Thousand.” And that is true enough. But these nursing sisters whom we are sending to France are not of that category. They gave up fussing over clothes and things and took to nursing years ago – long before war was ever thought of. It has been their profession, their life, for many years; and now they come forward to place their experience – their lives, perhaps – at the disposal of our brave French allies. There are, indeed, many Australian nurses in France at this moment – some at the Australian hospital at Wimereux, some at hospitals connected with the British expeditionary forces. All told, there are between 600 and 700 Australian nurses abroad. The British Journal of Nursing – Volume 57, 16th September 1916 (p230 and p231) We have often pointed out that the work of a British nurse in French militarv hospitals under the direction of French military medical officers, and where conditions are so different to those obtaining in English military hospitals, is one of very great difficulty and requiring the utmost skill and tact, and when it was first proposed to organize the French Flag Nursing Corps under these conditions we were told it was a hopeless task. The two years’ work of this Corps in France has anyway disproved this pessimistic view, although the difficulties remain, and it is exceedingly creditable to so many of the Sisters that they have succeeded in spite of such difficulties. Now Australia proposes to help our French Allies in the same way, and twenty nurses, a gift to the French Government from the New South Wales Branch of the Red Cross Society, which has equipped and will maintain the nurses in France, left Australia on July 4th on the hospital ship Kanowna for Europe. The Australian Jockey Club, with truly patriotic spirit, has offered to maintain the twenty nurses for six months, a matter of 1,560 pounds. The Lismore Branch of the Red Cross has given 150 pounds. The following are the nurses selected, all of whom are members of the Australasian Trained Nurses Association, and are provided with their registration certificates and the badge of silver and dark blue enamel: Mrs. Elsie Cook, Miss N. Weston Crommelin, Miss Lynette E. Crozier, Miss Dorothy E. Duffy, Miss Alice F. Gray, Miss Fanny M. Harris, Miss Winifred Hough, Miss Susan Hughes, Miss Ruby [sic] Hungerford, Miss Jessie T. Hutchinson, Miss Annie Jamieson, Miss Hilda Loxton, Mrs. Jessie McKillop, Miss Ida J. Moreton, Miss Olive H. Norman, Miss Alice E. Robinson, Miss Grace Sheridan, Miss Lilian F. Thompson, Miss Helen S. Wallace, and Miss Elfrida Warner, In addition to the nurses, Miss Hamilton Moore, masseuse (a registered member of the Australian Massage Association) , has been sent to France, and as it was impossible to secure nurses who spoke French, Mlle. Niau accompanied the nurses to England to give them instruction on the voyage. The Farmer and Settler (Sydney, NSW), Fri 7 Jul 1916 (p.8): NURSES FOR FRANCE – A Compliment to Our Allies HAPPY FAREWELL FUNCTION IN SYDNEY The twenty nurses that are going to France to join the staff of the French Red Cross were entertained at Government House, Sydney, on Monday afternoon by Lady Edeline Strickland, assisted by Miss Strickland. The members of the executive committee of the New South Wales division of the Red Cross Society, together with M. Chavet (Consul-General for France), and others were present. In thanking Lady Edeline at the close of the proceedings, on behalf of the nurses, Mr. J. O. Fairfax, chairman of the New South Wales division of the Red Cross Society, said that no Red Cross project had been received with greater enthusiasm by the executive than the sending away of this party of nurses, and the staff had worked hard to select, equip, and despatch them. All had felt it an honor and a privilege to render this service to the gallant and glorious army of France. It was relatively a small thing that they were doing, a mere drop in the ocean of help that was needed; but it was a sign and a pledge that as their men were ready to fight shoulder to shoulder with the heroes of France, so their women were ready to stand side by side with the wives and mothers and sisters of France in nursing their sick and wounded. They were giving of their best, chosen from a large number of applicants, and they believed that these that were going would wonderfully represent their noble nursing profession of Australia. Wherever the lot of this little band of devoted women might be cast, their services would be freely given to heal the wounds and soothe the sufferings of gallant French soldiers. “May the bonds,” he concluded, “that unite our beloved Australia and our beloved France grow ever closer.” Presentation from the French League. At the rooms of the French-Australian League of Help, on Monday morning, each of the nurses was presented with a leather kit bag, the presentation being made by Mademoiselle Soubeitan, secretary of the league. “You are giving your services, your time, and perhaps your lives,” she said. “We do most warmly appreciate the spirit in which you are going, and the offer made by a great many others that were willing to go. You will not find us an ungrateful people; you will be repaid by the gratitude we will show you. We wanted to make you some gift before you left, but we did not quite know what to give you. We would give you all we can, for there is nothing so precious that you should not have it. We have inquired from the people of the Red Cross Society as to what is the most valuable thing we can give to nurses going abroad, and Nurse Gould said that these bags were the most useful gift that could be offered to you. We hope that they will accompany you in many useful and many happy days in our country.”   THE BLUEBIRDS (20 Nurses): COOK, Elsie (Mrs) – (ex AANS) CROMMELIN, Nellie Weston CROZIER, Lynette Edgell DUFFY, Dorothy Ellena GRAY, Alice Fullerton (aka Lindsay) Sister in charge – (ex BRC) HARRIS, Fanny May HOUGH, Winnifred Annie (aka Minnie) HUGHES, Susan Mary HUNGERFORD, Mary Catherine HUTCHISON, Jessie Isabella JAMIESON, Annie LOXTON, Hilda Mary McKILLOP, Jessie Donaldson (Mrs) MORETON, Ida Jeannette NORMAN, Olive Hay ROBINSON, Alice Elaine SHERIDAN, Grace Elizabeth THOMPSON, Lilian Fraser (Mrs Fitzhill) WALLACE, Helen Sutherland WARNER, Elfrieda In addition to the twenty nurses: HAMILTON MOORE, Isa – Masseuse NIAU, Josephine H – French Teacher THE VOYAGE The Bluebirds embarked in Sydney, Tuesday the 4th of July 1916 on No.2 Australian Hospital Ship Kanowna – under the command of Lieut-Col (Dr) A.B. Brockway Northern Star (Lismore, NSW), Thur 6 Jul 1916 (p.5): A PRETTY PICTURE – DEPARTURE OF NURSES SYDNEY, Wednesday – A pretty picture was presented at the wharf yesterday, when an army of nurses, with Miss Lindsay Gray (Lismore) as senior sister, and a masseuse who are being sent by the Australian branch of the British Red Cross Society to France took their departure. The nurses were wearing their new uniforms, consisting of navy blue costumes with Norfolk coats and navy overcoats piped with light blue. Their navy blue felt hats had bands of pale blue ribbon finished in front with special enamel badges, showing a red cross on a white ground and pale blue band inscribed “Australia – N.S.W.” Streamers of gaily-colored ribbons hung from the ship, and the nurses’ arms were laden with flowers given them by friends. The Sydney Morning Heral (NSW), Tue 11 Jul 1916 (p.8): EN ROUTE TO FRANCE FRENCH INSTRUCTION FOR RED CROSS NURSES Mdlle. Josephine H. Niau, of the Department of Education in this State, who has been entrusted with the task of imparting a knowledge of the French language to the 20 Red Cross nurses despatched to France, has written to Mdlle. Soubeiran of Sydney, from the hospital ship Kanowna, under date July 5. “I had an interview with the O.C. this morning,” she writes. “He arranged to give a ward on the top deck as a classroom. It is airy and cool, having portholes all round. I begin work at 9.30 each morning. The O.C. thought the sisters ought to have an hour after breakfast to tidy the wards and generally arrange matters. I met the nurses this afternoon in the classroom. The O.C. went into the ward this morning and found some of the sisters still looking tired out, so he said I was not to teach to-day, but jut to have a chat to them. However, we talk French at table – those that are up and sit near me. This boat is splendid, and everyone is so nice that we all feel like honoured guests. I cannot say how thankful I am to be here. All say they are going to work hard, and all are so willing. At night, in fact, for every meal, the sisters wear their flowing white veils, and look charming. The regular staff of the hospital ship wear grey and red.” Northern Star (Lismore, NSW), Wed 2 Aug 1916 (p.8): NURSES’ LETTERS Mrs Harris, secretary Lismore Red Cross, has received letters from Nurse Lindsay Grey and Nurse D.G. Duffy, from somewhere at sea, en route to France. Nurse Lindsay Grey says – I am very proud indeed to be nominated by your Society, but after seeing some of the goods which were sent on board for our use I realise still more how fortunate I am. You will all be pleased, I am sure, to hear that I have been placed in charge of our unit. This, of course, is an unofficial position, but you all realise that it is very necessary to have a head one, but there is every probability of our being separated when we reach France. Everything has been done for our comfort. We are quite overwhelmed by the kindness of the Australian R.X.S. deck chairs, hot water bags, writing pads, cushions, bed linen, etc., and what we find specially useful – overalls – but it would take too long to tell you all we did find. Regular lucky dips, ………………………. You will have heard of the very useful leather kit bags given us by the French-Australian League. We are all agreed that we are the most pampered unit that has left New South Wales. We are finding the Bight fairly trying, but hope to be out of it to-morrow. Our French lessons commenced on Friday, 7th, and we have three hours’ tuition daily, and what with study, life boat parade, and so on, our days are fully occupied. A rumor is afloat that we are going via ………. after all, so just try and picture that lovely £7 worth of cigarettes being hurled to the boys. I know this is a dull letter, but none of us are feeling very brilliant to-day. Australians always do try to do a thing well, and this old Bight is no exception. She really can produce a good sea when put to it. Northern Star (Lismore, NSW), Mon Dec 1916 (p.6): LETTER FROM NURSE LINDSAY GRAY The following interesting letter has been received by Mrs Harris, secretary of the Lismore Red Cross, from Nurse Lindsay Gray, who writes from Gibraltar: – Leaving Gibraltar, 21st August, 1916 – Dear Mrs Harris – We anchored off Suez on the morning of the 9th, but no one got leave. Left again at 5.30 p.m. At the entrance of the Canal was and armed merchantman on guard. So we were paraded on deck as we passed her, and stood at attention, whilst our O.C. and the Naval Officer saluted. She looked like a great big watchdog. Wild excitement when we came to our own Australian camps. Coo-ees loud and long. Beautiful clean camps with crowds of camels in the background. And sand, sand, sand. We threw in many tins of cigarettes that a few of my Lismore friends had given me. But it soon became too dark for the men to find them, so had to put the rest by till next morning. We all passed a rather restless night, jumping up to see anything that was doing, and at 4 a.m. I was up rousing the others, and got rid of the remaining cigarettes. We arrived at Port Said about 9 a.m. on the 18th, and all got leave to go to Cairo. ……………………………………... Great competition amongst the boatsmen as to whom would get the fares. But with all the din we managed to fight our way into several boats and made for shore, where we got the mid-day train for Cairo. The train ran back along the Canal as far as Ismailia, showing us the backs of the camps that we had passed by in the ship. How we coo-eed and called to every Australian as we headed by the band, and I believe they were so delighted to have a word from newly arrived home folk. One of our fellow passengers was a New Zealander, who was in the Katia scrap, and so we got all the news first hand. …………………………………………..……………………….. It was a most interesting trip to Cairo, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything in my travels that has fascinated me quite so much as the camels, native villages, heavily-laden donkeys, and miles and miles of desert. It was just like a book of Bible pictures, and seemed so weird to be seeing the real thing. We passed through Tel-el-Kebir, now a deserted camp, and here had a yarn with a Light Horseman from Victoria, who had been through the whole campaign and even the evacuation of Gallipoli. He was a typical Australian – handsome, lean, brown as a berry, and such an air of reliability. We reached Cairo at about 5 p.m. and put up at Shepherd’s, the famous hotel. I may tell you here that all travelling expenses, hotel, etc., are reduced to military and Red Cross people by just half, which is a big consideration. Mr Heywood, the Red Cross Commissioner, has his office in the hotel building, and was very good in placing it at our disposal, also his knowledge of Cairo. Mr Elworthy, of Grafton, is also there, and as far as I could hear the Red Cross Society is doing a big work. Miss Hindmarsh visited the bazaars with us. It was nice having her. We did the bazaars and pyramids on the night of our arrival and sat in the sand in front of the Sphinx and had our fortunes told by an awful old humbug – closely surrounded by natives and their donkeys. After a lot of argument as to which donkeys we should hire, we at last trotted back to the car, the boys (natives) running beside us and begging for “buck sheesh” (tips). We had a generous supply of pence on hand and the news evidently had spread, for it was Bedlam let loose. I don’t know where they all turned up from, but after a little persuasion on the part of a native policeman who brandished a murderous looking baton, we got into the car and were soon away. Next day we did the Mosques, the Citadel, and the fascinating bazaars again. Then at night Mr Heywood and Mr Elworthy took us for a sail up the Nile in a native boat, and our cup of joy was filled when one of the natives produced a tom tom. Next day we left for Alexandria, where our ship was taking on 400 patients and 40 nurses for England. We reported at 12 (mid-day) and were again given leave till next day, Sunday 13th. You see they are glad to have the ship fairly free when taking on patients and coaling, etc. We went out to the Casino San Stefano Hotel for the night, our O.C. recommending it. It is a gorgeous place and we did enjoy the change. The sea beating gently up on the beach and our room fortunately overlooked it, also the out of doors dining room, with colored lights, white clad Egyptian waiters with red sashes and red caps, a glorious orchestra, and the women with their gay frocks. After dinner we sat on our own little balcony and watched the dancing and tried hard to imagine that there was no war. We got back safely next day and in good time, …………... Next day we started on our French studies once more, and I do think that all the girls have worked hard and not always under the nicest conditions either. We anchored in the outer harbor of Malta on the afternoon of the 16th, and on our arrival a fine big transport crowded with men left. However, next morning early back she came, don’t know why. About noon we anchored in the Grand Harbor and went ashore for a couple of hours, visiting that most wonderful place, the Chapel of Bones, St John’s Church, etc., all of which I had seen before, but thoroughly enjoyed again. To-day, 21st, we anchored off Gibraltar and took on a few new patients and now are on our way to Southampton, which we should reach by Saturday or Sunday, so I shall post this as it is and write again later. I am afraid my letters are rather dull, but a ship is the last place in the world to try and write in. I am now standing up in my cabin writing on the dressing table, whilst the ship’s carpenter, commonly called “Chips,” is painting Red Cross labels all over our luggage, in the hope that it will hasten our passage through the Customs. I hope to write something of more interest to you all when we get to work. Northern Star (Lismore, NSW), Mon 4 Dec 1916 (p.7): RED CROSS NURSES Following is Colonel Brockway’s address to the 20 Red Cross nurses who have been sent to France for Red Cross work: – I desire to express my appreciation of your good conduct and behaviour since you have been under my command, and my regret that we have soon to part, each to do our little part in the work of the Empire. You have been chosen for the unique honor of assisting directly the noblest of our Allies – upon you will devolve the grave responsibility of representing in the eyes of a great and observant nation, the country of your birth or your adoption. For many years to come Australia’s women will be judged by you, and in many towns of France you will be spoken of by its people as having done for them, that which we are confident you will. We have no fear – perhaps we have a little envy – but we are quite assured that you will uphold Australia’s reputation in the way that a woman can. Just as each soldier should fight as if the result of the battle depended upon his individual effort, so each one of you will do her work for something else besides the love of it, for the reputation of our great country. When I was a boy it was the custom for such young people as took their world seriously, to fix up in his bedroom some text or motto to serve as an incentive to the realisation of an ideal. You are of a less sentimental and more secular generation, but there are some words which are as old as our religion, and which can be depended upon, whatever your creed, even indeed if you believe you do not possess a creed, and I would ask you if you do not paste them up in your room if you will fix them in your hearts – it cannot do you any harm and may possibly be a help to you. Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God. On behalf of the No.2 Australian Hospital Ship unit, I wish you God-speed and good-bye. (Signed) A.B. Brockway, Lt-Col, A.M.C., A.I.F., O.C., No. 2 Australian Hospital Ship ENGLAND AND FRANCE: The Border Morning Mail and Riverina Times (Albury, NSW), Thur 28 Sept 1916 (p.2): Australian Nurses in France (Published in “The Times”) Twenty Australian nurses have arrived at the French Red Cross headquarters, and are being allocated for duty in France. The British Journal of Nursing, Vol 57, 30 September 1916 (p.269): We reported recently the generous gift of the services of 20 Australian nurses, for France, by the New South Wales Red Cross Society. These nurses have arrived in London, and the Comite de Londres, Croix Rouge Francaise, is arranging to place them in French hospitals. The President, the Vicomtesse de la Panouse, is anxious that the skill of the Australian unit shall be extended to the wounded heroes of France in the most useful manner, but it is now very difficult for foreign nurses to gain permission to work in the war zone of the French Army, as patriotic Frenchwomen claim that this should be their special privilege. The Sun (Sydney, NSW), Sun 1 Oct 1916 (p.17): RED CROSS WORK STUDYING FRENCH The Red Cross nurses who were sent by the New South Wales Division of the Red Cross Society to nurse the French sick and wounded, are already at work in France, according to cabled advices. Letters received from them during the voyage speak of their appreciation of the French lessons of Mdlle Niau, who accompanied them. Every moment of time was spent in study of French medical terms, and the sisters quickly became fluent speakers. Their letters giving their experiences in France are eagerly awaited. The British Journal of Nursing, Vol 57, 7 October 1916 (p.290): [Photo] The unit of twenty Australian nurses sent as a gift for war service with the French Army from New South Wales, left for France last week. We hope they will all be fitted in where their skill will be really useful; but, as they will find conditions very different to those to which they have been accustomed, they must not be “down-hearted” if they find the work less exciting than they expected. In the picture on this page they appear a very happy group, taken on board the steamer just before crossing from England. The Sun (Sydney, NSW), Sun 22 Oct 1916 (p.17): RED CROSS WORK The matron in charge of the nurses sent by the Red Cross to France writes to Australia: – “I’ve just come in from seeing eight of the girls off to France. We arrived safely on August 26. Mr Hicks, Red Cross representative, met us at Southampton, and made everything so easy, and Mr Lamb met us at Waterloo. Wish you could have seen us coming here in two very ancient buses, piled high with luggage. The driver had to hammer the wheels on before starting, so we began the pilgrimage in some fear and trembling. Taxis are hard to get at night, and whistling for them is not allowed. On the 28th we all had to go to the French Red Cross and see the matron. On Tuesday the president entertained us at tea, and next day sent us tickets for the war pictures. Sisters Jamieson and Hughes were to have gone to-night also to the ‘Ulster’ Hospital at Lyons, but there was a hitch in the arrangements, so they are going elsewhere. Cook and Fraser Thomson have gone to Cannes, Hough and Loxton to Palavas, Sheridan and Hutchinson to Mentone. Sisters Robinson and Crommelin have gone as far as Rouen with the others, but leave them there and go on to Les Andeleys. At present it is expected that we shall have several days in Paris, and be appointed from there. The waiting is rather wearisome – we shall all be glad to be settled and at work. I think they have enjoyed their stay in London, and we had a Zep raid last Saturday, which was most thrilling, especially for those of us who have rooms on the top floor. It all seemed so close to us, and we could see the sparks and flashes so plainly, and such crack! crack! of the guns. I don’t think there is anything else. Everybody is well, and all anxious to start work. With best wishes.” RED CROSS RECORD, April 2nd 1917 (p.15,17): Nurses in France As will be remembered, this Division of the Australian Branch of the Red Cross Society decided to communicate with the French authorities and send them 20 nurses, if so desired, hoping by so doing to emphasise the deep sympathy and admiration felt by us for the heroism and sacrifice of France. The offer was received with enthusiasm, and the Australian Jockey Club was so pleased with the idea that they offered to defray the whole of the expenses of the nurses for a year, so relieving the Red Cross Society of these charges. They were accompanied by a French teacher (M’lle Niau) on a hospital ship, and arrived safely in France, where they have been working ever since. At first there was considerable disappointment in their minds, as they were not given responsible work, which we, and they, had hoped would fall to their share. Some were more fortunate than others, but, on the whole, there was certainly ground for considerable dissatisfaction. As you may imagine, these nurses were very carefully selected, and were certainly equal to any that had left our shores on active service; therefore this feeling was reasonable. Better news is coming forward now, and most of our nurses are not only doing suitable work, but are being promoted to positions of trust and responsibility. Some are even being urged to take matronships, which they are rather diffident about, as they may be put over other nurses who have been longer in these hospitals. Miss Mort, who had a great deal to do with their equipment and the arrangements for their comfort, has received word from all of them to say how delighted they were to receive the gifts sent from this Division for Christmas. The boxes of handkerchiefs chosen by Mrs Lane Mullins and Miss Mugliston seemed to be exactly what they wished for, and they say it gave them a “homey” feeling to see on the lid a picture of a smiling Australian soldier. At present Miss Fullarton Grey, who left in charge of the unit, and Sisters Warner, Harris and McKillop are in Amiens, where they are very busy indeed. Big guns can be heard continually, sometimes without cessation day or night. Taube raids are frequent. On one occasion 13 came, and two bombs were dropped in the courtyard of the hospital, fortunately without casualties. Miss Fullarton Grey writes that at Rouen she saw Miss Bruce Smith, who went away with our V.A. Detachment, and was told by the matron in charge of the hospital that she was exceedingly practical and helpful. Sisters Moreton and Duffy are at Cannes, but are hoping to get nearer the front soon. Sisters Wallace, Crozier, Loxton and Hough are now in Belgium. Sisters Hughes and Jamieson are near Paris, where they are well placed, and doing splendid work. Sisters Cook and Frazer Thompson are likely to get a post somewhere north. Miss Fullarton Grey speaks of the extreme kindness of the American Red Cross in Paris, who are doing endless work to help the French soldiers. Sister Hamilton Moore is the only woman in a depot where there are 1000 soldiers and 14 doctors. She lives in a convent by the hospital. Miss Moore is a skilled masseuse, and does all the electrical diagnosing necessary for the men, and in the afternoons supervises the massage. She writes that she was able to give her boys each a little Christmas present, and that their delight was something wonderful to see. Unlike the English and Australian boys, the French boys had their ordinary fare on Christmas Day. The nurses say they would not willingly look a haricot bean or cabbage in the face again, as these form a large portion of hospital diet. Sister Wallace writes from a surgical hospital, but will be moving further north shortly, and hopes to be settled pretty close to the firing line by March. She and the sisters with her were able to arrange a treat for the Belgian refugee children. They had 331 of the poor little things, and writes: “I do not think they had ever had such a time before.” Sister Crozier was fortunate in having an American trained nurse as matron at her hospital, who had money from the United States to spend on the patients and give them a good time for Christmas – “and a beautiful time they had.” “If you could only have seen the joy that the ‘blesses’ had at opening their Christmas stockings. They are such dears; you never saw such patience and good temper, and as easily amused as children, and wonderfully grateful. Our French gives them the greatest sport. I say something, and we all begin to scream laughing. One cannot be the reserved, professional nurse as at home, although I can now manage to make myself understood very well.” Sister Cook writes that a doctor-in-chief has asked for two Australian nurses for a clearing hospital on the Somme, and that she and Sister Frazer Thompson hope to be there soon. Sister Crommelin writes from Les Andelys that she and Sister Robinson determined to make a Christmas for the men under their charge, and sent to London for cigarettes, card, pens and pencils. As all the other nurses, they love these poor, patient heroes. It seems to have struck all our Sisters that the people of the towns in which they are situated are extremely kind to the Sisters themselves, but rarely visit the hospitals or take any interest in the wounded men. They are trying to arrange with some of the ladies to visit the hospitals and take a general interest in them. Sister Hughes is at St Germain-en-Lage and is lucky to be under Dr Tuffiere, and in a hospital which for two years had an English matron, so that the regime is similar to our own hospitals. The present matron is French, and Sister Hughes gets on splendidly with her, and has Sister Jamieson also with her. She speaks most highly of the surgical work done there, and says that the patients are splendidly looked after. These two Sisters are certainly amongst the lucky ones, because they have rooms in the hotel where the officers of the Australian Branch of the British Red Cross are stationed, and they much appreciate all that has been done for them by the Society. Sister Warner is at a temporary hospital on the Somme, where the chief work, since the transference of surgical cases to other hospitals, is confined to medical cases and frozen feet. Sister Hungerford has been asked to take on the matronship of the Hospital at Limoges, as she is thoroughly well conversant with the work, and says: “I find these dear French boys quite the most delightful patients; they are so brave, bright, and grateful, and so very poor (2½d per day).” With her is Sister Norman. Both these Sisters will probably be leaving shortly to get nearer the firing line. It has been decided by the Executive of the Red Cross of this Division that the services of the Nurses will be retained if the Commissioners at home think that it is desirable that they should still be employed and likely to be helpful to the great ally whose welfare is so dear to our hearts, and whose sacrifices and sufferings command the admiration of the world. The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW), Thur 10 May 1917 (p.4): Red Cross Nurses The committee of the Australian Jockey Club, at a special meeting held yesterday afternoon, voted the sum of £1500 for expenses in connection with the 20 nurses sent by the Red Cross to France 12 months ago. This is the third contribution of an equal amount that the A.J.C. have given in this connection. The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Sat 30 Nov 1918 (p.9): WOMEN’S COLUMN RED CROSS NURSES ABROAD It will be remembered that more than two years ago the New South Wales division of the Australian Red Cross conceived the idea of sending 20 nurses and two [sic] masseuse to help in the French hospitals. The Australian Jockey Club, on hearing of this plan, immediately offered to pay for the equipment and the maintenance of the nurses for six months. From time to time this generous allowance has been renewed, and the nurses have not cost the Red Cross Society a single penny. Now, the Jockey Club has notified the society that they intend to give a Christmas gift of £25 to each nurse and masseuse, those who are still on duty and also those who have returned to Australia. The nurses have done excellent work in France, and have all occupied important positions. One was an anaesthetist in a large military hospital, and others have acted as matrons. Many of them have been in hospitals which have been bombed, and others have been stationed in the closest proximity to the firing line. Included in the nurses is the daughter-in-law of Sir Joseph and Lady Cook, whose husband has been on active service since the outbreak of war. At one of the hospitals in which Mrs Cook was nursing a bomb came and shattered the building, causing a lot of damage. The four Australian nurses who were there went through the wards (which where, of course, in complete darkness) reassuring and comforting the men. In the morning one of the soldiers said: “Oh, how brave you were, how noble!” “But they little knew,” said a nurse, “how our knees were trembling.” Colonel Hayward, writing on September 20, commented upon the very valuable assistance that the Red Cross nurses had given the French Government, and quoted several extracts from a letter he had received from the Director-General of the French Red Cross, who said: “We could never be too grateful to the Australian Red Cross Society for having placed this unit of nurses at our disposal, thereby bearing a notable part in the Empire’s work for the sick and wounded soldiers of France.” Having served in a Theatre of War, all 20 Nurses and Isa Hamilton Moore were entitled to 2 Campaign Medals – the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Elsie Cook received both these medals as well as the 1914/15 Star for her earlier service with the AANS in Egypt. Alice Fullerton Gray was also entitled to all three Campaign Medals for her earlier service in France with the British Red Cross Society. It appears that many, if not all, were also awarded French Medals. Heather 'Frev' Ford
Comments
    • blacksmith
    • Monday, 12 March 2018

    Hi Frevford I found a related article with a different photo (of reasonable quality) in the Sydney Mail dated 12 July 1916. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160388387 Although it's only newspaper quality, I thought that perhaps you could include it in your article here rather than me doing something on the same subject. Blacksmith.