• Ethel Alice Peters

Army / Flying Corps
  • Australian Army Nursing Service
  • Sister

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  • 1914–1915 Star
  • Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) (ARRC)
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Enlistment - WW1

    Cairo, Egypt

  • Birth

    Mount Gambier, SA, Australia

Stories and comments
    • PETERS, Ethel Alice (Pete) – Sister (MID, ARRC), AANS
    • Posted by FrevFord, Monday, 16 May 2016

    Born on the 2nd of June 1887 at Mt Gambier, SA – daughter of Thomas PETERS and Martha Annie ELIX – who married on the 11/1/1883 at the Kooringa Weslyan Church, SA Thomas, a civil servant who had been connected with the Railways for over 48 years, died on the 19/8/1928 at Royston Park, SA, aged 70 Martha died on the 20/3/1934 in a private hospital in SA, age 71 Siblings: Olive b.1884; Mabel Mary b.1890 – marr Colin HALES (WW1: Lieut, 1st Anzac Cyc Bn, KIA 20/12/1916) – marr Archibald EY – d.24/7/1945; Muriel b.1896 (Mrs Tony Eldridge); Vera b.1899 (Mrs F. Bailey) Trained in nursing at the Adelaide Hospital for 3 years, beginning as a probationer in May 1909 – and continuing on there after qualifying Member of the St Peters Branch of the District Trained Nursing Society WW1: Having joined the Australian Army Nursing Service, Ethel with a group of nurses, including Olive Haynes, caught the train from Adelaide to Melbourne on the 26/11/1914, and embarked on the A55 Kyarra with the 2nd Australian General Hospital (AGH) the following day, 27/11/1914. After various delays they finally set sail for Egypt on the 5/12/1914 Stationed first at Mena House, she was sent to Alexandria on the 1/4/1915, and then on transport duty on the hospital ship Gascon One of 7 Australian Nurses on board the Gascon at the Gallipoli landing – she stayed with the ship until after the ‘evacuation’ [Stat Dec p.11 of SR] Writing to her friend Olive Haynes in May 1915, she said they were “very busy, but [she was] liking it very much.” [We are here too, p.43] 30/5/1915 On board Gascon off Gaba Tepe: “Sister Peters collapsed this a.m.” [Elsie Gibson’s diary] 18/7/1915 Malta: “Sister Peters & I went ashore in a ‘dghaisa’ (small boat) then we got a ‘carrozze’ (carriage) & drove to a small shop where we saw all kinds of Maltese Lace. …After that we took a guide & drove to a Hotel, had tea, then drove to St Johns Cathedral in Strada san Giovanni. …….[etc]” [Elsie Gibson’s diary] 3/8/1915 Whilst the Gascon was in port at Alexandria, Ethel caught up with Olive Haynes and they had lunch at Groppi’s and tea at Zizinnia, before she rejoined the ship [We are here too, p.65] 16/8/1915 Malta: “We managed to get 2 hrs off in afternoon & they [2 Australian Officers] came & took Peters, Tucker & myself to the Chapel of Bones.” [Elsie Gibson’s diary] Promoted Sister 1/12/1915 Awarded the Royal Red Cross (2nd Class - ARRC) 1/1/1916 for distinguished services in the field (ie. her work on board the Gascon during the Gallipoli Campaign) – decorated at Buckingham Palace in October 1917 War Diary of the HMHS Gascon: p.34 – 1916 February 1st Alexandria – The ship is moored in Alexandria harbor awaiting orders. Australian Nursing sisters Peters, Tucker, Gibson and Twynam were ordered to rejoin their unit No.2 Australian General Hospital, Cairo. Sister Olive Haynes writing to her father on the 4/2/1916: “Pete came back from Transport duty the other day; it was nice having her back again – she has been away for 10 months.” [We are here too, p.120] Ethel and Olive had 3 days leave around the 25/2/1916 and spent it riding donkeys and visiting temples and tombs at Luxor Mentioned in Despatches (MID) 1/3/1916 in connection with Administration in Egypt Embarked at Alexandria 26/3/1916 on the Braemar Castle to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF); Ethel & Olive “were rostered in a ward of 15 beds” Disembarking at Marseilles, France on the 4/4/1916, they shared a bell tent, and later a hut, and were at first placed on night duty at the hospital Proceeded to Boulogne by train on the 13/6/1916 and attached to the 13th Stationary Hospital 14/6/1916, the 2 friends once again sharing a tent Attached to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station (ACCS), Trois Arbres 20/8/1916 From Nightingales in the Mud (p.123): Observation by Bessie Pocock, Nov 1916: “Srs Haines, Peters and Earl are not behaving well, making themselves conspicuous with the orderlies in the wards and going out too. Looks awfully bad for nurses to behave like this.” [One of these Orderlies being Ethel’s future husband, Norm] Rejoined the 2nd AGH, Wimereux 2/1/1917 UK Leave 29/1/1917 – 12/2/1917 with Olive; and Norm joining her for a few days too Sister Olive Haynes writing to her mother on the 18/4/1917, 2nd AGH, France: “Poor Pete – she nearly got killed the other day. A shell dropped just 10 feet away from her ward and smashed the glass in the window, and she got scratched on the back of the hand, so now she can wear a gold stripe. It gave her a bit of a shock, though. They picked up the shell and gave her the driving band off it pour un souvenir.” [We are here too, p.201] Sister Olive Haynes writing to her mother on the 8/6/1917, 2nd AGH, France: “Pete’s man was through here yesterday; he is going to Cambridge to an O.T.C. and she is going to be married the minute he gets his Commission – she can snap her fingers at the Military.” [We are here too, p.205] Proceeded on Leave to the UK 15/9/1917 – where Norm was in training at the Officer’s Cadet Battalion in Cambridge Resigned her appointment in England 1/10/1917 on account of their marriage – following receipt of his Commission Married Norman Francis WILKINSON (Lieut, 2nd MG Bn) on the 1st of October 1917 at the Wesley Church in Cambridge, England – Sisters Ella Tucker & Kate Foreman were bridesmaids Ethel returned to Australia with her infant son, Norman (jnr) on the family ship Osterley, departing Liverpool on the 10/1/1919, and arriving in Melbourne 24/2/1919 Children: *Norman Peter b.6/7/1918 Cambridge, England – Insurance Clerk – WW2: 1940 – 1945 (NOK, Caroline) – marr Caroline Florence EDGERTON 12/7/1944 Kew *Geoffrey Lloyd b.29/10/1921 Hawthorn – WW2: Army 1941 – 1942; RAAF (Pilot) 1942 – 1946 *Mary Isobel b.21/1/1927 at Allandale, Grace Park, Hawthorn – Nurse – marr (Dr) Peter HUGHES 1950 – d.1984 Norman gave his address as his parents place at 17 Simpson St, East Melbourne on return to Australia, and the couple moved to Maritana Ave, Preston in June 1919 – calling their home “Trois Arbres” 1922, 1923, 1924: Living 433 High St, Kew (Norman, Civil Servant) 1927: “Trois Arbres”, Kew 1929, 1931, 1936, 1940: Living 12 Hillcrest Ave, Kew 1942, 1943: Ethel at 18 Ridgeway Ave, Kew [Norman stationed in Ceylon] 1944: Ethel & Norman both at Ruby St, Hawthorn 1948, 1951: Both at the Repatriation Hospital, Bundoora (Norman, Secretary) 1954: Elizabeth St, Pt Lonsdale 1958, 1963, 1968, 1972:1a William St, Ringwood Died on the 9th of May 1974 at Heidelberg, Vic, aged 85 [Most probably buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton] Norman Francis WILKINSON born 1892 Bright, Vic – son of (Dr) John Francis WILKINSON (d.29/3/1935, age 71) & Celia HARMER Siblings: *William Stanley b.c1888 Bright (Dr, Dentist) – marr Ruth – WW1: Lieut, AAMC – d.1969, age 80; *Archer Stalham b.c1895 Bright – WW1: Cpl 15214, 14th AGH / 2nd Lieut (Pilot), AFC – d.1985, age 90; *Eileen Celia – d.1966 Upwey, age 70 Clerk – Customs, China Returning to Australia on the ss Aldenham from Shanghai in June 1915 was Mr N.F. Wilkinson WW1: Pte 7382, 2nd ACCS, AAMC / Lieut (Belgian CdeG), 2nd MG Bn Enlisted 21/7/1915 and embarked at Sydney 18/11/1915 on the A34 Persic Wounded 1918 RTA 23/3/1919 on Czar – transshipping to Dongala at Alexandria 10/4/1919 & disembarking Vic 16/5/1919 1923 Norman was a Clerk at the Yarra Bend Asylum Author of ‘Travel trimmings’: Australia, Europe, the Far East, the Great War and love in a bell tent (1931) & ‘Ship Ahoy!’: an original and concise shipping guide for the tourist (1934). He had been with the Mental Hygiene Department of Victoria, when appointed to the Red Cross personnel for the Middle East in Dec 1940. He was the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the ARC, stationed in Colombo, Ceylon in Oct 1942, at which time he was promoted to Assistant Commissioner – resigning early 1944 and returning home Clerk / Secretary of the Bundoora Repatriation Hospital in 1946, 1948, 1951 Died Feb 1980 Hawthorn, age 87 – late of Harcourt Private Nursing Home Buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton on the 8/2/1980 The Narracoorte Herald (SA), Fri 4 Dec 1914 (p.4): MOUNT GAMBIER Miss Ethel Peters, daughter of Mr T. Peters, railway guard, who has been a nurse in the Adelaide Hospital, has been accepted as a nurse for the Australian stationary hospital for wounded soldiers in France. Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA), Sat 13 Nov 1915 (p.3): LETTER FROM THE FRONT The following interesting letter has been received by Mr M.R. Callander, from his son, Searle. “Racecourse camp, Heliopolis, Egypt, Sunday September 19th, 1915. ……………………………………………………………………………. So here I am back in Egypt. …………………….. Coming over on the hospital ship I met Sister Peters from Mount Gambier. She was very kind to me; in fact, all the sisters treated us wounded chaps real well. ………………………. The Horsham Times (Vic), Tue 22 May 1917: Social The following engagement was announced in the British Australian (London): “An Australian engagement of interest recently announced in London was that of Private Norman Wilkinson, who is a son of Dr and Mrs Wilkinson, of Melbourne, and is attached to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station in France, and Sister Ethel Alice Peters, of Mount Gambier, SA, who is in the 2nd Australian General Clearing Hospital, Boulogne, and was recently awarded the Royal Red Cross.” Sister Peters is the second daughter of Mr T. Peters, a guard on the Mount Gambier-Narracoorte railway line. Border Watch (Mt Gambier, SA), Fri 28 Dec 1917: CONCERNING PEOPLE At Cambridge, on October 1, Lieut Norman Francis Wilkinson, son of Dr and Mrs J.F. Wilkinson, of Melbourne, was married to Sister Ethel Alice Peters, RRC, daughter of Mr and Mrs T Peters, of Mount Gambier, SA. Sisters Tucker and Foreman were bridesmaids, and Lieuts W.S. Wilkinson, W.J. Ball, and T.F. Turnbull groomsmen. Border Watch (Mt Gambier, SA), Fri 28 Dec 1917 (p.5): AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE Sister Peters, RRC, of Mount Gambier (SA), who was married on October 1 to Lieut Wilkinson, of Melbourne, is to be decorated at Buckingham Palace on Friday, her cross having been won on a hospital ship at Gallipoli. – The British Australasian 25/10/1917 The Age (Melb, Vic), Sat 20 Jul 1918 (p.5): BIRTHS WILKINSON (nee Ethel Peters) – On the 6th July, at Cambridge, England, to Lieutenant and Mrs Norman F. Wilkinson – a son. Border Watch (Mt Gambier, SA), Fri 28 Feb 1919 (p.3): MRS N. WILKINSON (SISTER E. PETERS) WELCOMED On Wednesday night Mrs. N. Wilkinson (Sister Ethel Peters), daughter of Mr Thos. Peters, railway guard, Mount Gambier, returned home from the war, where she served for three years as a nurse. During her absence she was married to Lieut Norman Wilkinson, of Toorak, Melbourne, who was also on National service, and now, having returned to Australia, she lost no time in coming to Mount Gambier to see her parents and friends, and she brought her handsome little baby boy with her. She was met at the railway station by the Mayor, the Ven. Archdeacon Samwell, and Mrs J.J. Lawrie (Vice-President of the Cheer-up Society), who warmly welcomed her back to Mount Gambier. The combined band played several lively selections of welcome. Mrs Wilkinson left South Australia with the first batch of young nurses who offered their services to aid the wounded Australian soldiers. She left Adelaide in November 1914, for Egypt. When the Australian soldiers were ordered to Gallipoli the nurses were also sent there, and Nurse Peters, with the others, was present at the historic landing there in April, 1915. She served all through that fateful campaign, and when the British forces evacuated Gallipoli the nurses were sent with them to France. Nurse Peters was decorated with the Royal Red Cross for her distinguished service on Gallipoli. While in France she was married to Lieut Norman Wilkinson, son of Dr Wilkinson, of Toorak, Melbourne, and in October 1917, after three years of strenuous work, she resigned. Mrs Wilkinson, although she bears traces of the severe service she has rendered to Australia and the Empire, is in excellent health. It may be mentioned that Lieut Wilkinson was some months ago decorated by the Belgian authorities with the Croix de Guerre. Mrs Wilkinson Entertained by the Red Cross. At the usual Thursday afternoon meeting of the Mount Gambier Red Cross Society, in the supper room of the Caledonian Hall, a pleasing function took place, when Mrs Wilkinson (Nurse Peters) was entertained at afternoon tea. She had only arrived by train the evening before. The President of the Red Cross Society (Mrs G.E. Truman, Mayoress), supported by Mesdames J.H. Nield and J.J. Lawrie, extended her a welcome, which was given in a very hearty manner by all present singing “For she is a jolly good fellow,” and giving three ringing cheers. The afternoon tea was provided by Mesdames A.F. Laurie, J.H. Sheppard, and J.M. Carozzi. The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Wed 5 Mar 1919 (p.9): THE COUNTRY MOUNT GAMBIER, February 28 – Mrs N Wilkinson, the first army nurse to return to Mount Gambier from the front, was welcomed at the railway-station on Wednesday by the Mayor (Mr G.E. Truman), Ven-Archdeacon Samwell, and Mrs J.J. Lawrie (vice-president Red Cross Society). Sister Peters was married whilst away to Lieutenant N Wilkinson, a son of Dr Wilkinson, of Toorak, Melbourne, who is till on active service, and brought a baby boy back with her. She went to the front in November 1914 with the first batch of South Australian nurses to volunteer, and after nursing through the Gallipoli campaign was transferred to France. She was decorated with the Royal Red Cross fro her services on Gallipoli, and in October 1917, after three years’ strenuous service, resigned. Lieutenant Wilkinson, her husband, was recently decorated with the Belgian Croix de Guerre. At a meeting of the Mount Gambier Red Cross circle, at the Caledonian Hall yesterday, Mrs Wilkinson was cordially welcomed by the members. Speeches were made by the Mayoress (Mrs G.E. Truman), and Mesdames J.J. Lawrie and J.H. Neild. The Argus (Melb, Vic), Mon 24 Jan 1927 (p.1): BIRTHS WILKINSON – On the 21st January, at Allandale, Grace Park, Hawthorn, the wife of Norman F. Wilkinson, Trois Arbres, Kew – a daughter. The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Fri 26 Apr 1940 (p.25): NURSES’ RE-UNION LUNCHEON http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/74445440 The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 18 Dec 1940 (p.2): Two more appointments of Red Cross personnel for the Middle East were announced. Mr Norman F. Wilkinson, formerl of the Mental Hygiene Department of Victoria, and Mr D.H. Gunner, who has had stores experience in a Victorian camp, will leave shortly. The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 28 Oct 1942 (p.2): PERSONAL Promotion of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Norman Wilkinson to rank of assistant commissioner was announced at a meeting of the central council of the Australian Red Cross Society last night. Assistant Commissioner Wilkinson is stationed at Colombo. The Argus, Sat 15 May 1943: ENGAGEMENTS EDGERTON – WILKINSON – Caroline Florence, A.A.M.W.S., daughter of Mr and Mrs J.A. Edgerton, of 27 Wimba avenue, Kew, to Gunner Norman Peter (A.I.F. returned), elder son of Assistant Commissioner N.F. Wilkinson (Australian Red Cross, Ceylon) and Mrs N.F. Wilkinson, of Ridgeway avenue, Kew. Wodonga and Towong Sentinel (Vic), Fri 17 Sept 1943 (p.5): RED CROSS OVERSEAS SERVICE [Norman suffered a bout of dengue fever whilst in Ceylon] http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/69585016 The Argus, Sat 19 Dec 1948: The Life of Melbourne Mr and Mrs N.F. Wilkinson, of Bundoora, entertained about 20 friends at a dinner party at Menzies last night to celebrate the engagement of their only daughter, Mary, to Dr Peter Hughes. Mary is on the staff of Royal Melbourne Hospital, and met her fiancé when he was a resident there. Mr Wilkinson is secretary of the Bundoora Repatriation Hospital. Peter’s parents Mr and Mrs Harry Hughes, of Brighton, were at the party. Notes: The Register (Adelaide, SA), Mon 20 Aug 1928 (p.8): DEATHS PETERS – on the 19th Auguust, at the residence of his daughter, Fifth avenue, Royston Park, Thomas, beloved husband of Martha Annie Peters, aged 70 years. At rest. Observer (Adelaide, SA), Sat 1 Sept 1928 (p.39): LATE OBITUARY Mr Thomas Peters Mr Thomas Peters, who died on August 18, at the age of 69, had been connected with the Railways Department for more than 48 years. He was a native of Burra, and entered the railway service there in 1879, age the age of 20. Five years later he was transferred to Terowie and subsequently was stationed there. He was the guard on the first passenger train run from Mount Gambier to Narracoorte after the line was opened in 1887. Mr Peter’s retired from the Government service last year. The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Wed 21 Mar 1934 (p.14): DEATHS PETERS – On the 20th March, at a private hospital, Martha Annie, widow of Thomas Peters, of 117 Fifth avenue, Royston Park. Aged 71 years. From ‘We are here too’, p.209: “Norman Wilkinson, on the other hand, is taller than Pete – dark hair, blue eyes – not bad-looking. He was in the Customs in China before he enlisted, but is not going back there. Going into business of some sort after the war.” Norman’s father’s Obit 1935: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/12224337