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Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Muriel was born Leontine Sara on the 14th of June 1887 at the family home in Bathurst Street, Sunny Corner, (near Bathurst), NSW – the daughter of Henry George WAKEFORD and Ellen DALY, who married in 1886 at Cobar, NSW. At the time of her birth, her father was a General Storekeeper, in business as “Wakeford and Wylie”, in Bathurst St, Sunny Corner. By 1890 the family had moved to Hillgrove, followed by Dapto, before eventually settling in Wollongong Henry died from a heart attack on the 6/1/1919 at his shop in Wollongong, aged 56, and Ellen died on the 26/3/1944 at her home in Crown St, Wollongong, aged 76 Siblings: Henry George b.1890 Hillgrove – d.1959 NSW; Elvera M. b.1896 Hillgrove (Mrs O’Heard); Jack E. b.1904 Wollongong. Presbyterian Educated at Dapto Public School Trained in Nursing at the Wollongong Hospital (Nov 1905 – Nov 1906) and Sydney Hospital (from Nov 1906) Matron of the Cooma District Hospital, commencing duty on the 1/10/1912 Appointed Matron of Berrima District Hospital, Bowral, in March 1914; resigning later that year to enlist for war service WW1 Service: Muriel joined the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) as a Staff Nurse on the 7/11/1914, and embarked with the 2nd Australian General Hospital (2AGH) on the A55 Kyarra 28/11/1914 for Egypt. The Kyarra docked at Alexandria on the 14/1/1915, but apart from shore leave, the 2AGH nurses didn’t disembark until the 21/1/1915, at which time they were trained to Mena House at the foot of the pyramids. On the 7/4/1915 Muriel was one of 7 AANS nurses selected for duty on the Hospital Ship Sicilia, they left Alexandria on the 12/4/1915 and arrived in Mudros Harbour (the Isle of Lemnos) on the 15/4/1915. On the 23/4/1915 she received orders to transfer to the Hospital Ship Gascon, together with Elsie Gibson, Ella Tucker and Clementina Marshall. They were joining nurses Ethel Peters, Katherine Porter and Sophie Durham, already on board. Anchored off the Gallipoli peninsula on the 25/4/1915, the Gascon took on board its first load of wounded Australian soldiers. This was the beginning of many months of hard work tending to the sick and wounded as they were transported back to the hospitals in Egypt and Malta (which can be followed in Muriel’s letters transcribed below). By August Muriel was hoping to be transferred to transport duty to Australia, and in September she was detailed for duty on the Beltana, transporting invalids home, departing Suez 17/9/1915 and arriving in Melbourne on the 13/10/1915. Promoted to the rank of Sister 1/12/1915 Returned from transport duty on the Aeneas Suez 19th January: – “We are leaving to day for Gezireh” Reported for duty on return from Australia 20/1/1916 at the Gezireh Hospital Embarked with the 2nd AGH at Alexandria 26/3/1916 on the Braemar Castle to join the B.E.F., disembarking Marseilles 4/4/1916, where they remained in the area temporarily as an isolation hospital Proceeded to Boulogne for duty 13/6/1916 Transferred to England for discharge Resigned her appointment 28/6/1916 in order to marry Married Raymond Gustave SARGEANT on the 28th of June 1916 in Poplar, England Raymond was born 16/3/1885 Brussels, Belgium Merchant Seaman. WW1: Sub Lieut, Gascon Son Henry William was born 18/1/1918 Mombasa, Kenya, British East Africa 1920: Along with their 2 year old son, Henry, Raymond G. (35) and Muriel (33) embarked from East Africa on the Guildford Castle and arrived at Plymouth 24/6/1920. [Raymond was an Asst Port Captain.] 1921: Muriel L. left Liverpool, England on the Ceramic, arriving in Sydney 10/1/1921 (33 children under the age of 12 weren’t listed) 1923: Muriel (34) and 5 year old Henry embarked on the Usaramo at Mombassa, and arrived at Southampton 8/9/1923. [Res. Kenya] 1927: Raymond Gustave (Port Captain, 42) and Muriel Leontine (39) embarked on the Llandovery Castle at Mombasa and arrived London 31/3/1927. [Res. Kenya] Nov 1929: returning to Wollongong on the SS Moloja, to arrive 23/1/1930 1933: Muriel L. (46) embarked at Natal on the Llanstephan Castle and arrived London 7/11/1933. [Res. Kenya] 1936: Raymond (Port Captain, 50) and Muriel (48) embarked at Mombasa on the Llanstephan Castle and arrived London 16/7/1936. [Res. Kenya] Residents of Sth Africa in 1944 1949: Raymond G. (Retired, age 64) and M. Leontine S. (age 61) embarked at Durban on the Athlone Castle and arrived Southampton 24/6/1949. [Res. Sth Africa] Proposed address in UK: “Pen-y-Brefu” Salisbury Rd, Horsham. [Previous proposed addresses in UK were usually just C/- of Banks etc.] Raymond died at Pentlands Nursing Home, Worthing on the 25/8/1958, aged 73 Buried Durrington Cemetery, Worthing 28/8/1958 (Sec 3, Row 8, Grave 58) http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14619204 In 1965 Muriel resided at Flat 1 Warren Crt, Warren Rd, Worthing Muriel died at 19 Down View Rd, Worthing on the 6th of June 1965, aged 77 She was buried with her husband in Durrington Cemetery, Worthing, West Sussex 11/6/1965 (Sec 3, Row 8, Grave 58) Probate of £19,771 was granted to her son Henry William Sargeant (Major, H.M. Army) The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Sat 25 Jun 1887 (p.1): BIRTHS WAKEFORD – June 14, at her residence, Bathurst-street, Sunny Corner, the wife of H.G. Wakeford, of a daughter. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Sat 22 Dec 1900 (p.2): Prize Day at Dapto Public School ……………………………………………. Miss Muriel Wakeford, on behalf of the senior girls, presented a biscuit barrel to Mrs Murphy, …………………….. Following are the chief prize-winners: – Fifth Class: Misses………………, M.Wakeford, ………………… South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (NSW), Sat 3 Feb 1906 (p.18): WOLLONGONG HOSPITAL At the annual meeting of subscribers, Wollongong Hospital, held last week, the following report for the past year was submitted: – ……………………………………………………… “Nurse Benson tendered her resignation in November and Miss Muriel Wakeford was appointed as probationary Nurse. ………………… South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (NSW), Sat 17 Nov 1906 (p.14): WOLLONGONG HOSPITAL Letters were read from Nurses Asquith and Wakeford tendering their resignations, as they had secured appointments in the Sydney Hospital. – Accepted with regret. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Tue 1 Dec 1908 (p.2): THE SEARCHLIGHT Nurse Wakeford, well known in this district, has won the gold medal at the last Sydney Hospital examination. She was awarded the highest number of marks for the year. We extend our hearty congratulations. The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW), Wed 17 Feb 1909 (p.7): SYDNEY HOSPITAL ANNUAL MEETING The annual general meeting of the Sydney Hospital was held in the board-room this afternoon. ………………………. The report stated that……………….. Prizes were carried off by ………………., and assistant nurses Muriel Wakeford, …… The Manaro Mercury, and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser (NSW), Mon 23 Sept 1912 (p.2): Local and General News Miss Muriel Wakeford, of Sydney, has been appointed as Matron to the Cooma Hospital, in place of Matron West, resigned, and will commence duties on 1st October next. South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (NSW), Fri 27 Mar 1914 (p.10): WEEK BY WEEK Miss Muriel Wakeford, late matron of Cooma Hospital, has been appointed matron of the Berrima District Hospital, Bowral. The Scrutineer and Berrima District Press (NSW), Wed 6 May 1914 (p.2): Berrima District Hospital ………………………………. The Department of Public Health wrote confirming the appointment of Miss Muriel Wakeford as matron. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Tue 10 Nov 1914 (p.2): PERSONAL It is probable that Nurse Wakeford, daughter of Mr and Mrs H.G. Wakeford, will be amongst the Red Cross Nurses selected in Australia for to proceed to the front, as she has been told to hold herself in readiness to proceed at a moment’s notice. The Manaro Mercury, and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser (NSW), Fri 13 Nov 1914 (p.2): Miss Muriel Wakeford, matron of the Berrima District Hospital, who some time ago offered her services to the Red Cross Socitey, has been called to the war. Miss Wakeford for some 18 months held the position of matron at the Cooma District Hospital, and left at the end of last year for Bowral. The Globe and Sunday Times War Pictorial (Sydney, NSW), Sat 28 Nov 1914 (p.3): OFF TO THE DANGER ZONE – FORTY NURSES FAREWELLED [photo] An unusual flutter of excitement prevailed at the Sydney Hospital last week, when the forty nurses of the Australian No. 2 General Hospital in France met there to be photographed. Matron Creel entertained them all at morning tea. They looked so capable and happy in their uniforms of grey, brightened with little red capes and flowing white caps. …………………………………….. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/103490780 The Scrutineer and Berrima District Press (NSW), Wed 3 Feb 1915 (p.2): Berrima District Hospital ANNUAL MEETING …………………………. The annual report and balance sheet (which had been circulated) were taken as read. ….. Many changes had been made in the staff. Early in the year Matron Tarrant resigned her position, and Miss Muriel Wakeford was appointed to the vacancy, but when the present war broke out she offered her services abroad and was accepted. ………….. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 12 Mar 1915 (p.2): Sick Soldiers in Egypt – BENEFITS OF RED CROSS WORK Nurse Wakeford, writing from Egypt, states: – I am nursing in a tent, and it seems so funny. There is a lot of sickness, so the overflow is nursed in tents. There is any amount for us to do. We are fairly comfortable in the tents, and as happy as circumstances will permit. If the Red Cross people only realized the result of their efforts they would never weary of the work, and this I have realized even at this early date, even before the actual work was started. So far it is only the ordinary illnesses that are keeping us busy. One thing I would like a bit more of is ordinary face flannels, or those knitted washers would be just the thing. I would like a bundle made up for myself and think I should get them safely if forwarded here to me. One day we work from 7.30 a.m. to 8.30 or 9 p.m., and the next day to 2 p.m. I am writing this in the tent with just an ordinary hurricane lantern, so you can guess the light is not too brilliant. We go up to Mena House to sleep and have our meals. I went on night duty last night specializing a case, and I like it better than the tent. Each nurse I believe does two weeks night duty. When we return to Australia we will not notice the few specks of dust you have, we live in it here. If you get a bundle of face flannels or washers made, the best way to send them is in a wrapping of grey calico. Little brush and comb bags to hang on beds would be acceptable. Just the ordinary size and any kind of washing material, preferably a dark color (blue would be nice). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Tue 16 Mar 1915 (p.9): NEED FOR FACE FLANNELS Wollongong, Monday Writing from Egypt Nurse Wakeford, late of Wollongong and one of the nurses of the Expeditionary Force, says there is a considerable amount of sickness amongst the troops, who are nused in tents. She specially asks that a large supply of face flannels or knitted washers be forwarded as soon as possible, as they are very much needed. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 19 Mar 1915 (p.5): A Letter from Egypt Nurse Wakeford writes from the Hospital in Egypt: – Still here and fairly busy. Had a most exciting time last week. The Kyarra is returning to Australia with sick men, and one sick sister is also on board. Another nurse and I were deputed to take her as far as Cairo. When we got there the sisters who were to relieve us of our charge were not there, so we were taken on to Suez, where the Kyarra was. Probably you will have heard of the fighting with the Turks along the Canal. We considered ourselves very lucky to be going along the Canal at this time, for we heard the guns and saw the smoke, and are the first of our contingent who have done so. We spent one night on the boat, and the next at an hotel in Suez, and on the third day returned back. The return journey was even more exciting than the first, but you will have to imagine the rest. Anyhow I can assure you that we returned home safe and sound and much envied by the staff in general. Volunteers were asked for to nurse the wounded Turks. Enough were not forthcoming, so the remainder were just told off to do so. Thank goodness, I’m still here. I much prefer nursing Australians. There is quite a big contingent of South Coast men here. I am feeling very well, which is more than some of the girls are. Five of them are ill. The sand makes you fearfully tired. We are invited out a good deal by both English and French people, and seen to be best appreciated in our uniforms, consequently wear them with a panama. The weather is something to rejoice at, except when the sand rises and nearly buries you, then you forget all about the nice days. All N.S.W. girls again disappointed this week in consequence of no mails arriving, every other State seems to send its mails regularly. I am sure there must be a big batch of letters wandering around for me. I am nursing in the tents. Two of us look after eight tents. So I tell you that there is some walking to do. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 23 Apr 1915 (p.3): Our Soldiers in Egypt – PREPARING FOR ACTION Nurse Wakeford writes from Egypt: – I was one of twelve nurses which rode on donkeys to a place called the Sakkara (City of the Dead). It is a most wonderful place, the most interesting feature being, I think, the Sarcophagis of the Sacred Bulls buried under the san, twenty-four in all. The guide lights up the place with magnesium wires. It is sixteen miles there and back. This morning three of us went to the Sphinx to write letters, and before we got there we had following us three guides, four fortune tellers, and two camel drivers. Needless to say we do not patronize them, I wrote my name on the chest of the Sphinx. It is covered with Australian names. I just glanced at the name above ours, and it was C. Wishart, Wollongong. We have all to get helmets to wear. Have not had a letter from home since December. Every one of the residents from other States get their mails regularly. The mails for the N.S.W. nurses must have gone astray. I am on night duty, and look after three wards, and have the help of two orderlies. Palace Hotel, Heliopolis. You will see by the above that I have had a move. This place is supposed to be the second largest hotel in the world. There are over 300 bedrooms. I believe it was originally built for a Casino. It is too vast and cold for my liking. I understand there are about 600 patients in this place. Heliopolis is a very modern place, and has quite a number of large white buildings. This, with all the sand, produces a very dazzling effect. The population is principally French, I have had the measles, but am all right again. No wonder that the nurses got the measles, considering the number of cases they had to look after. Mena House, March 20th – You will see that I have had another shift. Was recalled from Heliopolis to go on duty on a hospital ship, which will, it is said, be going backwards and forwards to near the scene of action. Nine of us were chosen for this particular duty because we are supposed to be good surgical nurses. My letters will very likely be a bit irregular, but you will understand the reason. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Tue 18 May 1915 (p.3): On a Hospital Ship Nurse Wakeford, writing from Egypt, on the 7th April, states: – The word has come at last. Orders are out to-night that the seven sisters chosen for hospital duty on the S.S. Cecilia [sic, Sicilia] are to leave at 10 a.m. to-morrow for Alexandria to embark. I wonder where next you will hear of me, as we have not the slightest idea where we are going. But it is sure to be exciting. Your letter telling me not to climb the Pyramids came too late, as I had already done so, it would never do to leave Egypt without doing that. I have spoken to Colonel Owen several times. He is beloved by all the men out here. It is terrible to see so many fine fellows going out to almost certain death, and they are all so splendid about it. Our men are all moving on. The weather is fairly warm. We have a plague of grasshoppers. I did not see any of the South Coast Boys on the eve of their departure, but there is always such a ruxh at a time like that. I saw Lieutenant Cowie a week or so ago. There is no doubt about this being a very unhealthy place. The natives are such dirty creatures. They let the flies nearly eat them, as they are just too lazy to brush them off. I am so glad you have sent those hospital comforts on to me, as they will be invaluable. You can tell the Red Cross workers that they can never make too many socks, as they don’t last very long. I know for certain that the Red Cross things have been invaluable, quantities of the things being issued to the patients. There is no doubt it is a wonderful institution, 8/4/15, I’m just off to the hospital ship. 10/4/15, Hospital Ship Cecelia [sic, Sicilia]. On board at last, and a beautiful ship it is. Splendidly fitted up in every way. We will be able to take 400 patients. The wards each have 36 beds, except the convalescents, and they will have double that number. The patients’ comforts have been studies in every direction, which is of such vital importance, and will be the first consideration. There are six doctors in all. Four imperial and two Indian, and Colonel Bird and his son, of Melbourne, eleven Australian sisters, with an Imperial sister in charge. This ship is exactly like the Kyarra from the outside, viz., painted white with a broad green band and red crosses. We are to call at this place every now and then. Send my letters c/o Thomas Cook and Son, Alexandria, as we have made arrangements for them to receive our mails. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 11 Jun 1915 (p.4): With the Wounded – A NURSE’S EXPERIENCE Mrs H.G. Wakeford has received letters from Nurse Wakeford, who is on a hospital ship conveying the wounded Australians from the Dardanelles. The letter is censored, consequently all the news is not available. Nurse Wakeford writes: – I have seen some very wonderful sights, and am keeping a record, and my diary will make very interesting reading. I am glad I have kept one. The whole thing here is very awe inspiring, and at times it hardly seems real. 28th April, 1915 – Just off duty. We have had a terrible time and no one but ourselves will ever know how we feel about everything that has happened. Rest assured we have all done our very best. You will be able to guess how near we have been to [censored]. We left [censored] on Sunday, the 25th April. You will remember what happened on that date. Private Oyston is on this ship returning to Alexandria. One of many, but he was one of the fortunate ones. Two of us are doing night duty, Sister Durham and I. We do half the ship each, with a number of orderlies. The day staff come on very early and go off very late, and in that way get through a fair amount. I am on another ship now, but we are forbidden to tell the name. Australia has reason to be proud of her men, they have proved themselves as true as steel. We have just arrived at Alexandria, and are leaving again at 4 p.m. South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (NSW), Fri 25 Jun 1915 (p.10): A Hospital Ship INTERESTING LETTER FROM NURSE WAKEFORD Her family in Wollongong have received letters from Nurse Wakeford, from Egypt, describing the strenuous work in which she is engaged. The following are extracts: We have just returned with another 500 patients, after having been away one week. The fighting was terrific and we were in the midst of it, so close that shells from the enemy splintered a piece of our deck, so Capt. promptly moved off a few feet. We had just got away when a shell dropped where we had been. We arrived last Sunday at about 5 p.m. and at 7 a terrific bombardment commenced, seven or eight battleships firing practically together made a din and a terrific one, I can assure you. The rifel fire is continuous and as soon as darkness comes the flashes are visible. I could scarcely have believed we were so close, and feel absolutely no fear. There is just a feeling of intense excitement. At 3.30 a.m. our patients started to come on board, and we were working from then continuously up till now, with just enough time to get a few winks of sleep. So many more doctors and nurses are wanted. I cannot understand why more do not come from Australia. The men were in a much worse condition this week than our first lot, and many more deaths. Quite numbers of of men I know have been killed. Young Oyston was on the boat last trip, but not seriously wounded. Before coming on here we got just a little nearer than we had been before, but as it was night, I couldn’t see what the Dardanelles are like. It was bright moonlight, 2 a.m., and rifle fire and big guns going off all the time. It seemed had to believe we were alive. The last ship I was in was a P.&O. I can’t remember if I told you in my last letter I had been put on another boat. This one is a Union Castle liner. The poor wretched men in the trenches, living for a week at a time without sleep or a wash and very little food, and eventually getting these wounds, makes one wonder if it is worth the cost. The Australians are spoken highly of in every quarter. They are called the “Die Hard Australians,” and I tell you they are, too! There shouldn’t be one person in Australia not doing his or her part to ease the burden of these men, for no one knows except those who have seen how hard it is. I struck a man here the other day from Coledale, Scott his name was I think. I always ask them where they come from. I had one hundred patients, and dressed the biggest number of them myself, and you can imagine how busy I have been; occasionally, I feel the futility of things. The little we can do seems like a drop in the ocean, and yet, I suppose, it means something. The problem our men have now in hand is, I think, a tougher one than they anticipated, but we couldn’t think of their being anything but successful. I’m scribbling this whilst waiting for some of my stretcher cases to be taken on to the ambulance train. It comes down to the wharf, and takes them to the various hospitals. The place here will soon be overflowing with wounded. Our patients tell us they prefer their hobs to ours. I really think sometimes I would too, and I’d use a dum-dum bullet on every German and Turk I could get a shot at. It is time Britain gave up fighting like a gentleman and paid Germany back in some of her own coin. Fresh evidence of their culture comes to light every day. On our last trip we had a wounded Turk on board; he was a miserable devil, but I believe they are huge men and very game. I’ll know a lot about warfare before I return. I hope Red Cross work is going strong, and what is more, that it is being forwarded to our own men. It won’t do much good in England, so it behoves the authorities to occasionally inquire where it is going to. Up till now the men have been fitted, but we find ourselves waiting often for a lot of things on the ship that we know have been sent. I expect they will really get them at the base hospitals. We are very busy getting ready, for the last list is two hundred. As the ship was free of patients, we even washed some of the singlets and trousers the men left behind, and these proved very comforting to a few. There are seven Australian sisters on board, and the Imperial people say we have dashing temperaments. I can assure you there is no time for anything else but dash, and one often wishes one had more of it. Anyhow, we all do our utmost for the wounded, and wished we could do more. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Tue 13 Jul 1915 (p.2): A Letter from Nurse Wakeford Nurse Wakeford writes as follows to her parents under date of 24th May, 1915: – I am afraid my letters will be very irregular in arriving, but we are not always in port when mail time comes around. That is principally the reason. I am feeling wonderfully well. You will be pleased to hear that I got two parcels of face flannels and some linen bags. One from Toronto and one from North Sydney. I expect this was the result of the letter in the paper. The other parcels you sent have not yet come to hand, and no letters for any of us, but we all expect a big budgent when next we reach port. We will all be wonderful authorities in super dreadnoughts, torpedo boats, destroyers, submarines, etc., after this venture. I have a great collection of bullets, buttons, badges, etc., and, what I prize most of all, are two shrapnel cases, and a time fuse. The former make beautiful vases, so despite their weight, I will land back with as many as I can get. Just at present we are waiting orders. Where for I cannot say. It’s such a nuisance not to be able to tell. We have no patients. So have time to breathe. I am learning to signal with flags (Semaphore), and am coming on well. It seems strange to be having such long days in May, whilst with you it is winter. The weather continues delightful. We are fortunate in not have sea sickness added to our other troubles. That would indeed be a drawback. We had service on board yesterday. The Chaplain is an awfully nice man, and is very popular, and, what is best of all, does a lot to help us. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Tue 20 Jul 1915 (p.2): A Letter from Nurse Wakeford Nurse Wakeford, writing from Alexandria (7th June) states: – Back again after the worst trip we have had. We can just manage to last out with four or five hundred patients for four days. This time we’ve been eighteen days and I can tell you it was pretty tough. Imagine the shock I received one night when young Tommy Arnott (that I knew in Balmain) was brought on board badly wounded. I thought at first he would die, but think now he will pull through. He was delighted to discover me when he became conscious. He has been recommended for the D.S. medal, and his General wrote to him congratulating him on the fine work he did. I promised to write to his mother. Owing to the strenuous nature of this trip, we nearly all succumbed more or less. I had a rather bad sore throat, consequently had to give up for a day or two, which was very much against the grain. I am nearly right again which, in these circumstances, is something to be thankful for. Union Castle Line S.S. Gascon, same date. After posting our letters this morning the long looked for mails arrived. I got a note from Mrs Watt, saying she had sent some face flannels, another from a doctor’s wife saying she also has sent some, and I received a parcel from a soldier’s wife at North Sydney. I had word also that there are three parcels at the post office. I’m getting a great response, and am just delighted to have them. If any one is particularly anxious to send anything we want towels. As I said before it is quantity we want, not quality. I think it well for people to bear that in mind. We find Egypt very hot when we get back, for of course on the water one always gets a breeze. Rumor hath it that we are to go provisioned for eight weeks this time, and we are all very curious to know where we are going. All the Australians (seven of us) long for Australia. The Englishmen and one English-woman, hope it will be England, and, I suppose, the Indians hope it will be India. Any of the people you know who have sons at Gaba Tepe can rest assured that all of our nurses will do all in their power to help ease their sufferings. The dear lads, it makes ones heart ache to feel how little one can do. Of course we get them first of all from Gaba Tepe. The hospital ship steams to within half a mile of the shore, and we can see the ment quite plainly, also the dug outs, trenches, etc., with the aid of glasses. I think it is always most harrowing for the people who first deal with them, when they come from the scene of action. We have done four trips, this next will be our fifth. There were such a lot of the 13th Battalion this trip (N.S.W. reinforcements). Address all letters and parcels care Messrs Thomas Cook and Sons, Alexandria. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 13 Aug 1915 (p.5): A Letter from Nurse Wakeford Nurse Wakeford, writing to her parents from Alexandria under date of 29th June, says: – Back again from the scene of action. This trip has been our longest. We have been away three weeks. Have about 500 patients on board, but the wounds this time are not nearly so severe as some of the previous trips. It is frightfully hot. I hope you received my cable. I was at Gaba Tepe when that was sent. Hope it did not startle you. (Cable has not come to hand yet. – Ed “M”). Just at present things are very quiet. They seem to be playing a waiting game. We would dearly love just to step on shore at Gabe Tepe, but our O.C. won’t hear of it. I can hear you say, “I should have not,” but really one can’t help developing fatalistic fancies, when we see the escapes some of the men have. It is really marvelous, and at times to hear even part of the din of battle it almost seems impossible that any one could escape. The men remain wonderfully cheerful and optimistic. They have so many hardships to endure. I believe the temperature at Cairo is 120, quite commonly. It is almost nine weeks since we started life at sea. July 1st – Got about twenty letters yesterday, dating from December to May, also local papers. Glad Dr Kirkwood is coming over, also Dr Alsop, or Bowral. We want all the good men we can get. My ward was very swanky this trip with the little blue bags from Toronto and the face flannels, the greatest comfort. I hear that after this trip we are going to be changed two at a time, to give some of the others a look in. I’ll hate going on land again. The hospital ship Cecelia, has made two trips to Malta, but so far we have not been. We do not see many papers and get no information – just our letters. We are leaving again to-night. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 27 Aug 1915 (p.6): A Letter from Nurse Wakeford Nurse Wakeford writes on 10th June: – We were warned that our letters would be censored and that is why my letters have been so vague. But I’m going to chance now something decent, I went on to the Cecelia [sic Sicilia] on the 8th April, spent a few days at Alexandria, and then proceeded to Lemnos to wait orders. Lemnos is one of the islands in the Grecian Archipalego. It has a very fine harbor which is called Mudross. We waited there with innumerable transports and war ships, all waiting to proceed to the scene of action, and for that week we had a very pleasant time. Had three visits on shore. The population is Greek, and the people seem much cleaner and industrious than the Egyptians. The land to a large extent is cultivated. There are fields of scarlet poppies, mixed up with small flowers of various kinds which simply make a blaze of color. At the week end a stir was being made. Another hospital ship came in and four of us got orders to go on her. We were very sorry to leave the Cecelia. She is an old P. and O. boat, and very nicely fitted up. However, our delight was unbounded when we learned that the ship we were on was for the the Australian wounded. One afternoon we were invited on board the H.M.S. Agamemnon she is a Dreadnought, and we had a most interesting time. Were shown all over the guns and their workings, etc. One has a great respect for these guardians of ours, The Queen Elizabeth was in the bay, but unfortunately we missed a chance of going on her. On the 24th April the transports, etc, began to move, and very soon there was very little else but two or three war ships left. At 1 a.m. on the 25th we moved off. We reached Gapa Tepe at 4 a.m. At 5 a.m. shells were bursting everywhere. At 9 a.m. our first lot of wounded came on board. At 3 p.m. there were 500 wounded. At midday the place was a very inferno. The London was lying almost touching us, firing over our bows. Shells from the enemy frequently burst quite close to us. The first landing party were cut to pieces by the Turks, who fired shrapnel before the lighters even reach the beach. The majority of the wounds were in the left arms and face, there were a number of spinal injuries, and fractured skulls and some very bad abdominal cases. We all worked like you know what, form the O.C. to the fireman. The patients were as plucky as could be. The terrible work done makes one wonder if is worth the price. We had to turn many of the wounded away to go on the transports till another hospital ship arrived. We started for Lemnos at 6.30 with 550 patients on board. A man writing to the “Times” from the London says he never saw anything like the bravery of the soldiers on that memorable day. They were in a very hail of lead and yet were undaunted. On the 29th we got to Alexandria with our first load of wounded and naturally enough were the cynosure of all eyes. Talk about wounded warriors, and they were all so proud of themselves. The following Sunday was a very interesting one. We arrived back at the Dardanelles in time to witness a terrifying bombardment from our own ships. They were trying to get a Turkish gun, which had been defying their efforts. Of course the German officers were responsible for all the smartness, and say and think what we like of them, we are forced to admit they are clever. The second lot of wounded were in a much worse condition than the first. Explosive and dum dum bullets had worked such havoc, and the men’s nerves were on end. On our third trip General Bridges died. The Triumph and Majestic were both torpedoed, so at this stage we sort of guard against submarine attacks in as much as that all the port holes are screwed down as soon as it gets dark which would, of course be the means of the boat taking longer to sink. All the boats are hung out too. The war ships have all disappeared behind their torpedo net and we and the torpedo destroyers are the only vessels to be seen. We are well guarded by them and our ship is constantly on the move. We are only half-a-mile from the shore, and can see the men and tents quite plainly – even the dugouts. All this time we had wonderfully calm weather, and the last couple of days is the first time that the sea has been at all rough. On our last trip there has been a decoy ship at the entrance to the bay here, but our enemy got busy on her and now she is a thing of the past. It is wonderful how the two and a half days return trip pulls us all together again. Naturally enough it all upsets us, and sometimes it seems that we will never recover from all the sadness. The boys do cheer us up wonderfully for they are quite satisfied with their lot and, if they are, well its up to us to look on the bright side as much as possible. I have not come across any of the boys I know, I never feel cheerful about them these days. Isn’t it characteristic of our sporting Australians. They go daily for a swim and yet the beach is the place that is always under fire. Some of them always get sniped in the water, and if you remonstrate with them, they say, “Oh, well, Sister, you know we must have a swim, what are we to do otherwise.” 15th June – At 6.39 we left Lemnos for Gaba Tepe, and arrived there at 4.30 a.m. Five of us sleep on the deck as the cabins are too stuffy for words, consequently when we heard the anchor going out, we only had to open our eyes and see the shore. Things are fairly lively this morning. An air ship is flying around. Of course she is fires at, occasionally, whilst the Monitor is firing quite close at hand. The report is fairly loud, I can assure you, in fact at times it makes you jump when an extra loud one goes off. We rush out to have a look. It’s quite remarkable how soldier-like you feel when you are amongst it all. I can quite understand the fascination it has for men. A hostile air ship flew over Lemnos last night, but fortunately did no damage. What wonderfully brave men they are, whether our own or the enemy who go up in air ships, or more especially submarines. Malta, 7th July – Just arrived, and I am writing this in the midst of wild confusion. Getting the patients off is always an indescribable confusion. This has been a most trying trip, terribly hot and we have practically acted as a base hospital for two weeks. We hoped for a couple of days here to pull ourselves together, but I believe we are to return at once to Gaba Tepe. Had two hours leave, just time enough to drive out to some beautiful gardens. It is delightful to get into a garden after so many weeks at sea. It is Sunday to-day, and such queer Sundays they seem. When we have to unload our wounded everything is rush and worry. The Manaro Mercury, and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser (NSW), Fri 27 Aug 1915 (p.2): Letter from Red Cross Nurse A letter has been received by a Cooma lady friend from Miss Muriel Wakeford, formerly matron of the Cooma District Hospital, who is a member of the Red Cross Nursing Staff. The writer says: “I am living in the midst of, more often than not, tragic excitement, these days. It seems more like a dream at times than reality, to be so near the actual fighting, and to be fortunate enough to help look after our own grand boys. They really are all wonderful and we are very proud of them. They have a very rough time, but rarely complain. On our first two trips we filled up with wounded in a few hours and returned with a number of patients. We are quite blasé now about shells falling round us. It is quite common for us to have to move out of the line of fire. We are really not aimed at, but always marks near at-hand on which the enemy has designs. We can hear the shells whizzing through the air; and the constant bursting of shrapnel and bombs is an awe-inspiring sight. Reference to Lemnos (which was visited by Miss Wakeford) is made, the writer stating that it is a very fine place. The harbor is a natural one, and the boats are able to go right up close to the water’s edge. The sunsets are glorious, beyond compare, and sometimes it is hard to realise that in the midst of such beauty war is raging. It was so nice to get some old Cooma news, we seem to be a terribly long way from home, concludes the letter. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Tue 7 Sept 1915 (p.2): Letter from Nurse Wakeford Nurse Wakeford, writing from Mudros, under date of 31st June: – We had a rough trip back from Malta, and were all sea sick. Really the first time in three months, simply because it was the first rough weather we have had. At 4 p.m. we had orders to proceed to Cape Helles. It was strange not to be at Gaba Tepe as we seem to belong there, but I am glad to see this part of the proceedings. The men here live in tents, which are much better than dug-outs, which is all that they have at Anzac. We anchor much further from the shore, and in deep water. Besides our ship, there are two others. One like ours, and the other French. The patients from here are mostly English, although some of the Australian Artillery are here also. The French go to their own hospital ship. It is not nearly so well equipped as ours. Alexandria, 3rd August – This last trip has been a very trying one, mainly because the patients were all Tommies, and they are indescribably different from our own Australian lads. It might be a good thing for the army, but for the man, its apparently disastrous to be a regular. They have absolutely no individuality. I got 29 letters this mail, two being from people I do not know, asking about their sons. I can imagine how they feel and do all in their power to get into touch with any one who might have been near their dear sons. Unfortunately I do not know any of them. The heat is terrific. I am writing this in the ward, while waiting for the patients to be taken off. They get slower with the disembarkation every trip. If I stay much longer I will melt. Of course as soon as you go on deck it’s like another world. The men at Cape Helles have better conditions than at Anzac, but disease is spreading. Dysnentry especially, giving a lot of trouble. After this I will try and get on a transport home. It would be delightful after being away eight months. The Bathurst Times (NSW), Thur 21 Oct 1915 (p.4): HEROIC SISTER – WORK ON A HOSPITAL SHIP EARLY DAYS AT GALLIPOLI SYDNEY, Wednesday https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/111252072 Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 22 Oct 1915 (p.7): Return of Nurse Wakeford She hasn’t got a bayonet, She hasn’t got a gun, She’s never killed a Turk Sh’es never killed a Hun. She heard the war dogs barking, She heard Australia’s call, She heeded not the hardships, But came, sacrificing “All.” Her sympathy is never forced Her heart is good and true She’s the latest thing in Angels, Sister! My best respects to you. The above verses were composed by Signaller T.J. Skeyhill, who has returned to Australia from the Dardanelles minus his sight, and they convey the great love the Australian soldier that has been through “the mill” feels for the Sisters that have “sacrificed all” to go and attend on the wounded boys that put up such a glorious fight on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Nurse Wakeford, daughter of Mr and Mrs Wakeford, was one of these, in fact one of the first sisters to leave Australia to follow the fortunes of the Australian boys in Egypt and the Dardanelles. After a strenuous time on board an hospital ship, which regularly carried a human freight from Gallipoli to Alexandria and Malta, she has had a brief respite in the shape of a trip to Australia in an hospital ship which arrived in Sydney this week. It was only natural that her reception on returning to Wollongong on Tuesday night by the 6.50 train should be a particularly hearty one. The Mayor (Ald. Smith), some members of the recruiting committee, and Mrs W.V. Brown, and other representatives of the Red Cross Society were in attendance, whilst members of the Wollongong Ladie’s Rifle Reserve, in uniform, formed a guard of honor. The Nurse and her parents were escorted through the waiting crowd to motor cars outside, and as the cars started en route to Crown-street, on the call of the Mayor, three hearty cheers were given to the returned Sister. The members of the Red Cross Society contemplate entertaining Nurse Wakeford at an early date, when she will be officially welcomed home. On Wednesday morning a “Mercury” representative had quite an interesting chat with Nurse Wakeford, who was discovered arranging choice flowers that had been sent her. The vases used were in some instances quaint Egyptian vessels that the Nurse had brought home as souvenirs of the land of the Pharoahs. She looks well notwithstanding the strenuous ordeal through which she has been since leaving Australia, and particularly since 25th April – that memorable date in which Australians made history – for she was right with the forces that made the first landing, and received the men that were brought on board whose feet had barely touched the Turkish shores when they were wounded and were returned to the hospital ship with their clothes saturated with water in consequence of having to wade ashore. The optimism of the Australians, said Nurse Wakeford, was one of the most remarkable features in connection with the wounded men. There were no croakers, but they all felt that in the end that they must win. The most distressing wounds were borne with a stoicism that was wonderful. Even when the doctors knew they had to hurt in dressing wounds, their apologetic remarks for doing so were invariably met with the response “That’s all right doctor. It’s got to be done.” The wonders of the warships at the Dardanelles and the methods adopted in the protection of the battleships from torpedo attack are matters that can be discussed but not printed. It is cheering, however, to talk to one that has seen the power of the Allied Navies and speaks with enthusiasm in reference to them. On August 8th the hospital ship to which Nurse Wakeford was attached, was so close to the land at Suvla Bay that the troops could be seen advancing, and shrapnel bursting over them. In fact she had a more intimate acquaintance with the Turkish shells, as during the early stages of the operations, the hospital ship was so close to the shore that shells were bursting in its proximity, whilst a British warship was firing across the bows of the ship. The returned Nurse speaks in appreciative terms regarding the comforts to the wounded supplied by the Red Cross Society, consignments of which were received on board every time the ship reached port. Not the least interesting part of the interview proved to be an inspection of the collection of photographs in the possession of Nurse Wakeford, of … that will for ever be associated with the Australian invasion of Gallipoli. When the shores at Anzac Bay was viewed in a photograph one can fully realise what was accomplished when the landing was effected. She says that the boys will not have too good a time of it during the winter months, and will require all the comforts that can be sent to them. Nurse Wakeford returns to Egyp in about three weeks, and at present revels in the fact that she is at home with her “ain folk.” Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Tue 2 Nov 1915 (p.2): Nurse Wakeford Honoured The local returned wounded soldiers decided to entertain Nurse Wakeford at a social evening, and they entrusted the organization of the function to Miss Clare. The social eventuated in the Wollongong Town Hall last night and was a great success. Dancing, songs, etc., helped to make the time pass merrily, until about 10 p.m., when Alderman Lance took the chair in the unavoidable absence of the Mayor. The guest and her father were seated on the chairman’s right and Mrs Wakeford on his left. Several Aldermen, Inspector Anderson, and other citizens also occupied seats on the stage, whilst the returned wounded soldiers stood at attention behind the chairman and the guests. ………………………………………………….. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/135949747 Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 17 Dec 1915 (p.7): Nurses’ Gift Afternoon FAREWELL TO NURSE WAKEFORD At Wollongong Town Hall on Wednesday afternoon Nurse Wakeford was entertained at a farewell gathering, and gifts were also received for the nurses on active service. The gifts were taken by Nurse Wakeford, to be distributed amongst the nurses in Egypt, but any additional gifts received until next Monday will be sent to the depot in Sydney. Major W.G. Robertson presided, and there was a good attendance, the ladies predominating. ………………………………… https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/135943039 Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 25 Feb 1916 (p.2): A Letter from Sister Wakeford Sister Wakeford writes from Suez under date of 19th January: – We are leaving to day for Gezireh. We arrived here last Friday night and this is Wednesday. Yesterday afternoon a party of us visited the [censored]. She participated in the withdrawal of the troops from Anzac. Last night the ships people gave a dance as a sort of farewell. Some of the men came from the [censored], some from the [censored], and some from the [censored], the last being only an armed merchantman. The Omrah came in about 6 p.m., so the invitation was extended to them also. The Hon. Andrew Fisher came on board and stayed a short time. It was delightful the way the naval men spoke of the bravery of the Australian troops. One of them told me he heard a General say that he thought the Australians were the bravest God ever made. Whilst on the [censored] I witnessed one of the most inspiring sights I have yet seen. We happened to be there at sunset. The bugle blew for the flag to be hauled down. This is done very slowly, and during the whole proceeding every man on board, where ever he might be, or whatever doing, turns and salutes the flag, and standing at attention till it is right down. I could not describe how I felt to be in the middle of all this, but it did make me think and realise some of the traditions that have kept and will keep our flag flying. Kind regards to all Wollongong friends. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 7 Apr 1916 (p.2): A Letter from Sister Wakeford Sister Wakeford, writing from Gezireh Hospital says: – We arrived here last Thursday. All the Sisters who were on their way to England to join the R.A.M.C. are now staying at a big hotel, waiting for orders. There are such crowds of them. Five parcels were here for me and now I think I have received all that have been sent, also the towels and handkerchiefs bought with the boys’ money, and Jane Rees’ knitting. I am in charge of an officers ward. We have a Mount Keira boy in, a Lieutenant Appleby, for a slight operation, also a lad named Dare from Dapto. Last night the crowd from Lemnos. Last ed. [sic] Saw Dr Barton, he looks well. I have a very great number of the boys to look up, I expect the most of them are at Tel el Kebir. There are such crowd of Australians here, they seem as numerous as the natives. Nearly all Sydney Hospital nurses seem to be here, both past and present. 10th February – Yesterday all the N.S.W. people received their Xmas presents. One of the Sisters is going to write and thank the ladies that sent the presents from Wollongong, which I distributed to the girls. I am afraid my letter will be tame to what they were when I was on board the Gascon. Things are very quiet, and once again the boys are longing for what they call “a scrap.” [part of below section lost in the spine of the newspaper] 12th – Yesterday brought me two letters, one dated January 1915, the other January, 1916. One year between. About that …. Graham and Lewis. While I was away Sister Durham took …. to the base army post office, … they send parcels from and …. knows what will become of …. 28th February – We are …. of Gezireh this week, and … know where we are going. This hospital has been found unsuitable …. to the defective sewerage …. Mr Cowie last week. …………………………………….. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/135943545 Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Tue 11 Jul 1916 (p.2): The Searchlight Mr and Mrs H.G. Wakeford, have received a cable announcing the marriage of Sister Wakeford. The happy man is an officer on a transport, and the bride is at present in London. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 1 Feb 1918 (p.2): BIRTH January 18, 1918, Mombassa, British East Africa, the wife of R.G. Sargeant (nee Sister M. Wakeford) a Son. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 6 Jun 1924 (p.2): “SISTER WAKEFORD” Mrs H.G. Wakeford, of Wollongong, has received a letter from her daughter, Mrs Sargeant (Sister Muriel Wakeford), stating that whilst in London on a visit from South Africa, she visited the Cenotaph and placed a wreath of daffodils with a card “In memory of the Wollongong boys that fell at Gallipoli.” Mrs Sargeant underwent a serious operation whilst in London. She saw the Port Kembla exhibit at the Empire Exhibition. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 29 Nov 1929 (p.11): SEARCHLIGHT Mrs R.G. Sargeant (Sister Wakeford) is returning to Wollongong on the s.s. Moloja on January 23rd, after nine years absence. Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), Fri 16 Sept 1938 (p.11): Mainly About People Mrs J. Wakeford, snr., of Crown-street, Wollongong, received word this week that a grandson, Second-Lieutenant Harry Sargeant, who has just graduated from Sandhurst Military College, England, was appointed to the Worcestershire Regiment on September 4. On September 14 he was to leave with his regiment for service in Palestine. His mother will be remembered by old residents as Sister Wakeford, who served as a nurse on active service.
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