• Janet Radcliff

Army / Flying Corps
  • Australian Army Nursing Service
    Unknown
  • Staff Nurse

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  • 1914–1915 Star
  • Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Birth

    Hobart, TAS, Australia

Stories and comments
    • RADCLIFF, Janet Ella – Temp Head Sister, AANS (MID)
    • Posted by FrevFord, Monday, 6 February 2017

    Born on the 5th April 1883 in New Town, Hobart, Tasmania – daughter of Hamilton RADCLIFF and Mary Ann GIBLIN – who married in Hobart, Tas 12/9/1879 Hamilton, Actuary of the Hobart Savings Bank, died suddenly on the14/1/1909 in Hobart, aged 59 Mary Ann died at her residence 251 Davey Street, Hobart on the 17/6/1934, aged 81 years Siblings: Crawford Ernest (prominent Daffodil Breeder) – d.Mar 1949; Ruby Gertrude; Dorothy; Helen Cicely b.16/6/1887 Hobart– WW1: Staff Nurse, AANS – d.17/10/1963 Tas, age 76, buried Cornelian Bay Cemetery; Bernard Hamilton b.30/7/1893 Hobart – WW1: Lieut, 5th LH – d.23/3/1936 Hobart, Tas, age 43, buried Cornelian Bay Cemetery *Educated at the Girls High School, Hobart and Hobart University *Trained in nursing at the Hobart General Hospital from 1909, and stayed on as a Sister when her training was completed *One of the foundation members of the Trained Nurses’ Club, Hobart *She was appointed head nurse at Molong Private Hospital, Sydney in August 1914; however, before she could take up her duties she was also accepted into the Australian Army Nursing Service, and chosen as one two nurses from Tasmania to embark for the war effort with the First Convoy WW1: Date of initial appointment with the AANS 11/8/1914; joined for overseas service 26/9/1914 Embarked at Hobart on the 20/10/1914 on HMAT A2 Geelong with fellow nurse, Alice Gordon King, and members of the 12th Bn, 3rd FAB etc Janet and Alice remained together until December 1917, at which time Alice resigned her appointment to marry; however, following her marriage she did some relieving work at the 1st AAH where Janet was also serving AWM photo on board Geelong: http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00046.049 [From the on-line diary of F.E. Forrest (Inglewood) – who was on board the Geelong] Thur 22 Oct 1914: “Two serious cases of sickness aboard. An operation of serious and interesting nature was performed on board this morning whilst passing through the Australian Bight. 4 doctors and two nurses present. Quite an interesting event for all but the patient. The Orderly Room was fitted up into quite an up to-date operating theatre.” Disembarked in Egypt and served first with the 2nd Australian General Hospital (AGH) at Mena House. She was also attached to Luna Park, Heliopolis, and to the hospital at Ismailia during the Turkish attack on the canal in early months of 1915. “Sister Radcliffe saw her first “active” service at Ismailia. There she helped to nurse a number of wounded men of the Manchester Regiment.” She was then transferred to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF), serving on the hospital ships Sicilia and Grantully Castle From Elsie Gibson’s Diary: “Apr 8th 1915 (Alexandria, Egypt): …10am we got into the Motor Ambulances – there were 5 Sisters 2 Staff Nurses and Miss Gould came to Cairo to pay us and hand us over to Colonel Bird. They called us the 7 little Australians there were Sisters Marshall, Gordon King, Radcliff, Gibson, Tucker, Staff Nurses LK King and Wakeford. We arrived at Station got paid up to date and joined Col Bird, his son and the 4 Nurses of Col Birds (we call them the Lady Birds) and Miss Fawcett who is an Imperial Sister and in charge making 12 Sister in all. ….we were taken aboard our Hospital Ship “HMHS Sicilia”. Am not sure how many Medical Men we have but there are not many. About 5 or 6 Surgeons, and about as many Assistants and some sub-assistants. We have 12 orderlies and the other Orderlies are Indians. This Ship is supposed to be one of the best fitted Hosp Ships and is owned and run at the expense of the Indian Government. Our cabins are very nice and as far as possible I think they will make us as comfortable as they can.” HMHS Sicilia left Alexandria approx. 11.30am 12/4/1915 and arrived Lemnos Island 5.30am 15/4/1915 From a letter from Sister Elsie Tucker (Published in Launceston Examiner, 15/6/15): “HMS Sicilia (lying off the Harbour of Lemnos) – “We had a very nice trip here, after waiting at Alexandria for three or four days for orders. Most of the crew are Indians – also the doctors, orderlies, dressers, waiters, and stewards. The colonel and medical officers are from India; but, of course, are Imperial men. Colonel Bird and his son are Australians, and we have 12 nurses. We have the honour to be the first hospital ship to enter the Dardanelles. We are equipped to take 400 patients. The boat is fitted with five large wards, with a couple of officers’ wards, special wards, and a nice little theatre. One night at sea was fairly rough, but everybody was able to appear at meals – of course, we were very keen to do so, as we were chosen on account of being good sailors” [Note: Sisters Gibson and Tucker, and 2 of the other nurses were transferred from the HS Sicilia to the HS Gascon on the 23/4/1915.] From a letter written by Alice Elliott (nee King), dated17/11/1967 – (p.19 SR): “On the Sicilia we were in Mudros Harbour, Lemnos, awaiting the April 25th landing and on the morning of the 25th moved up to Cape Helles to receive patients. After that we several times went to Anzac, and to Salonika and Cape Helles, collected wounded and sick which we took to Alexandria or Malta. After the evacuation we continued with transferring patients from Malta and Alexandria to England. Our Matron on these ships was Miss Kathleen Fawcett, QAIMNS.” Mentioned in Despatches (MID) 1916 [London Gazette 20/6/1916 (Supp 29632, 21/6/1916; Page 6184); Aust Gazette 21/9/1916] Embarked for England on Galeka 7/7/1916 and attached for duty at the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital (AAH) Harefield 20/7/1916 (ex 2nd AGH) To the 3rd Australian General Hospital (AGH), at the Kitchener War Hospital, Brighton 2/11/1916 Granted Leave 3/12/1916 Proceeded overseas to France on the Londonderry to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) 11/4/1917 Attached to the 2nd Stationary Hospital at Abbeville, France 17/5/1917 and then on the 23/8/1917 posted to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station (ACCS), Tasmania Camp, (between Bailleul and Outtersteene) in Belgium “From September 20 to September 26, 1917, was about the busiest time the clearing station staff had while Sister Radcliffe was in France [sic], for victims of the Polygon Wood battle poured into hospital. It was on September 26 that the station was shelled, and preparations had to be hurriedly made to get the patients away – all but 17, who were too ill to move. It was during these preparations that one shell fell near a number of motor cars which were laden with wounded men. However, that particular shell was a false alarm, so to speak. It did not burst, and afterwards the staff was able to build a little fence around the spot to commemorate the event.” To be Temporary Head Sister (3rd AGH) 1/11/1917 – (vice Miss Kidd-Hart, promoted) Proceeded on leave 27/11/1917 – and retained in England whilst on Leave Reattached to the 1st AAH, Harefield for duty from the 12/12/1917 until the 17/1/1919 Returned to Australia on the Margha in charge of the nursing staff – embarking London 18/1/1919 and arriving Melbourne 5/3/1919 – thence by boat to Tasmania. Her sister, AANS Staff Nurse and Masseuse, Helen, was also on board. On the 17/3/1919 Janet appeared before the Permanent Medical Referee Board in Tasmania, and was recommended for discharge on full pension on account of Mitral Disease of Heart and Anaemia due to Military Service. Discharge was to take effect on the 6/5/1919, however, in April it was pointed out that she required complete rest for treatment of her case, and was entitled to such treatment prior to discharge. At this stage she had already been in bed for four weeks, and her discharge was deferred, until 21/11/1919. “Later, feeling better, she took up her work again, and wishing to further her training, undertook a six months’ course at the Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, which was nearly completed when she passed quietly in her sleep.” Living with her sister Helen at 76 Hotham St, East Melbourne in 1922 Died in her sleep of heart failure at Melbourne on the 30th of November 1922 Buried in the Brighton General Cemetery, Vic https://billiongraves.com/grave/Janet-Ella-Radcliff/12114356#/ Listed on the Hobart University Honour Board Critic (Hobart, Tas), Fri 14 Aug 1914 (p.7): SOCIAL NEWS Miss Janet Radcliff, Hobart, has been appointed head nurse at Molong, one of the best private hospitals in Sydney. She begins her duties at the end of August. Critic (Hobart, Tas), Fri 2 Oct 1914 (p.3): SOCIAL NEWS Nurse Janet Radcliffe and Nurse King are the two nurses chosen to go with our troops to take part in the nursing organized by the Red Cross Society. World (Hobart, Tas), Sat 8 Mar 1919 (p.4): WAR NURSE COMES HOME Fortitude of Soldiers Praised Clearing Hospital Shelled Sister J. Radcliffe, who returned to Hobart on the troopship Margha yesterday, after four and a half years’ active service abroad, deprecates the suggestion that there is anything thrilling about war nursing. At any rate, she says that beyond a few odd enemy air raids, and a shelling on one occasion, there was nothing exciting about her term of war service in France. Last evening, when interviewed by a representative of “The World,” Sister Radcliffe was disinclined to talk of the hardships and unpleasantnesses that are part of a war nurse. As a matter of fact, she robbed the interviewer of a prospective thrill when he sought further information as to the shelling of the clearing station at which she was working by hastening to assure him that the shell which fell in the station was only a “dud.” On the other hand, she said that she could hardly say enough to express her admiration for soldiers, whose fortitude, she said, made battlefield nursing an easier task than would appear on the surface. Sister Radcliffe left Tasmania in 1914 in the troopship Geelong with the first convoy. Sister King, who left with her, and who was with her until the end of 1917, married Colonel C.H. Elliott, and is now in England, and hopes to return soon to Tasmania. Sister Radcliffe saw her first “active” service at Ismailia. There she helped to nurse a number of wounded men of the Manchester Regiment. Subsequently at the memorable Gallipoli landing she was on a British hospital ship when the British troops stormed Cape Helles. Incidentally, the ship on which she was nursing, was near the Euryalus, which, at one time, was the flagship in Australia. Sister Radcliffe was nursing Gallipoli fighters from April, 1915, to April, 1916. During that time, she says the Turks respected hospital ships, and never fired on them. “They were found to be fair fighters.” In the following July she went to England, and was engaged for some time at Harefield Hospital. In April 1917, she went to France, where she remained till the following December. For a time Sister Radcliffe was at the Third General Hospital at Abbeville. Subsequently she transferred to the Bailliel [sic] clearing station. Though she was only in France for about nine months, the ravages war had made on the country impressed her considerably. “Only the poorer class of people, who could not afford to leave, were there,” she said. From September 20 to September 26, 1917, was about the busiest time the clearing station staff had while Sister Radcliffe was in France, for victims of the Polygon Wood battle poured into hospital. It was on September 26 that the station was shelled, and preparations had to be hurriedly made to get the patients away – all but 17, who were too ill to move. It was during these preparations that one shell fell near a number of motor cars which were laden with wounded men. However, that particular shell was a false alarm, so to speak. It did not burst, and afterwards the staff was able to build a little fence around the spot to commemorate the event. Sister Radcliffe spoke enthusiastically of the various organisations which saw to the welfare of the troops during the war. “Particularly,” she said, “did I hear from the troops of the value of the Australian Comforts Fund. It was always a source of wonderment to British officers that no such organization existed in England.” Nurse H.C. Radcliffe, a sister to the subject of this interview, also returned to Hobart on the Margha, after having served for three years and a half abroad as a military masseuse. In expressing her regret for her inability to tell an exciting story, Sister Radcliffe concluded: – “There is one thing I do want to say. Most of the soldiers with whom I came in contact were good patients. But Australians were the best.” “Would you go to another war?” she was asked. “Yes. Apart from the fact that war work is a nurse’s duty, it is a wonderful experience.” The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 5 Apr 1919 (p.35): THE HOBART SEASON Welcome home parties are numerous just now, Mrs Wilfred Giblin had a tea party at her home in Macquarie street recently for her two nieces, Sister Janet Radcliffe and Nurse Helen C. Radcliffe, who did military nursing abroad. …………………. The Daily News (Perth, WA), Tue 8 Apr 1919 (p.3): Mainly About People Sister Janet Radcliffe, one of the first military nurses to leave Tasmania for the war, has returned home (says the “Australasian”), after four and a half years’ nursing. She had an enthusiastic reception from the crowd welcoming a party of returned soldiers, and the car in which she and her sister, Nurse H.C. Radcliffe, who was working as a masseuse at Harefield, and Nurse Wood sat, was drawn to the Town Hall from the Ocean Pier by some of the returned men, who had left Tasmania with Sister Janet Radcliffe in the Geelong in 1914. Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 23 Jun 1921 (p.35): TASMANIAN TALK A Tasmanian visitor in Melbourne writes: – …………………………………….. In the afternoon I met ……………………………….., Sister Janet Radcliffe and Miss Cicely Radcliffe, who belong to Hobart, but are now living in Melbourne and getting as popular here as they have always been in Hobart. ……………………………. The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 1 Dec 1922 (p.1): DEATHS RADCLIFF – On the 30th November, Janet Ella, second daughter of Mrs Hamilton Radcliff, of Hobart. The Mercury (Hobart, Tas), Mon 4 Dec 1922 (p.6): PERSONAL It is with very deep regret that those who knew Miss Janet Radcliff will have read of her sudden death in Melbourne on Thursday last. She was a daughter of the late Mr Hamilton Radcliff, manager of the Hobart Savings Bank, and was educated at the Girls’ High School, Hobart. In 1909 she began her training as a nurse at the Hobart General Hospital, on the completion of which she remained on the staff as Sister. On the outbreak of war she enlisted for active service, and embarked with the first Tasmanian contingent on the Geelong, and served in Egypt at Mena House and Luna-park, and at Ismailia during the Turkish attack on the canal in January, 1915. From then on for 12 months she served on the hospital ships Sicilia and Grantully Castle, on duty in the Mediterranean, and was present off Cape Helles, at the landing on Gallipoli; afterwards she nursed at Harefield and Brighton, in England, and at Abbeville and with the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station in France. After over four and a half years’ active service, in which she worked whole-heartedly, devotedly, and with untiring energy, she returned home much broken in health. Later, feeling better, she took up her work again, and wishing to further her training, undertook a six months’ course at the Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, which was nearly completed when she passed quietly in her sleep. Her life had, indeed, been well spent, a splendid example of loving self-sacrifice and devotion to duty, and her memory will be sacred and helpful to her large circle of friends, fellow-nurses, and grateful patients. The Mercury (Hobart, Tas), Fri 18 May 1923 (p.6): RETURNED SISTERS’ ASSOCIATION PROPOSED REST HOME The following circular from the hon. secretary of the Returned Sisters’ Association with reference to the proposal to build a rest home for nurses who have been on active service, was read at the meeting of the executive of the Red Cross Society yesterday:- “At a meeting of the Returned Sisters’ Association, held recently, it was proposed to erect a memorial to perpetuate the memory of Matron Miles Walker, Sister Janet Radcliff, and Sister Isabel Barwick (nee Edwards). Matron Walker died on active service, and Sisters Radcliff and Edwards died since their return, from the effects of war strain. All three were trainees of the Hobart General Hospital, and always upheld the highest standards and traditions of the profession, and as Tasmanian Sisters on active service we are proud of their record. …………………………………………………….. The Mercury (Hobart, Tas), Mon 23 Jun 1924 (p.3): [Official opening of Rest Home] http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/23744296?searchTerm Notes: Correct spelling of surname doesn’t have an E on the end