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Claremont, WA, Australia
Phoebe was born on the 28th of July 1890 in Lyell, New Zealand – the daughter of James Henry GIBBS and Minetta Jane KEARNS, who married on the 15/10/1884 at St Matthews Church, Lyell, NZ The family was living in Western Australia by 1895. Minnetta died in WA in 1899, aged 34 James (a Miner and Mining Manager) married Marion Henrietta LEE in 1902 at Mt Morgans, WA – he died on the 18/7/1938 in the Kalgoorlie Hospital, aged 83 and Marion died 1941, aged 67 [It seems Phoebe might have spent some time in a Girl’s Orphanage between the death of her mother and the remarriage of her father] Siblings: Minetta Annie b.26/2/1886 NZ – marr A.H. GERKE – d.14/2/1972 WA; George William b.13/3/1887 NZ – d.1931 WA; Edward James (Ted) b.18/1/1889 Lyell, NZ – WW2 – d.1943 Marble Bar, WA; Charlotte b.1895 Fremantle, WA – d.1896 (7mths) Half siblings: Florence Minetta Tremelyn (Mrs Eric Empsall, Maya) – d.19/4/1943; Albert Edward Gerard b.27/11/1905 Morgans, WA – marr Holly M RICHARDSON 1933, (Norseman) – d.28/6/1992 WA; Ray (Subiaco); James (Kalgoorlie) Educated at Coolgardie Public School and the South Perth Girl’s School Member of the Morgans Ladies’ Rifle Club Trained in nursing at the Perth Public Hospital from 1911 to 1914 1915 Electoral Roll: Nurse – Perth Public Hospital WW1 Service: Following a request from the British War Office, nurses were recruited in Australia to serve in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. Phoebe was one of 36 nurses that were accepted into the 3rd contingent that sailed in May. She embarked on the RMS Mooltan which sailed from Fremantle on the 24/5/1915 and arrived at Suez on the 17/6/1915, beginning duty at No 15 General Hospital, Alexandria the following day of the 18th. The following excerpts are from a letter she wrote on the 22nd: “Only 15 of our girls came to Alexandria. Twenty New Zealand sisters arrived on the following day. The hospital is an ideal place. We have 1400 to 1500 patients, the boys coming direct from the Dardanelles – most pathetic. It was a large secondary school called Abyssinia, and the military authorities took it over only about eight weeks ago. In my ward there are 55 men, only one from W.A.” “We are living at one hotel (de France) and dine at the swanky place, Regina.” “Everything is most expensive, and I am just about ‘stony.’ We do not know anything about salaries. We were not equipped, wearing our own uniforms, and laundry is so expensive. At any rate, we don’t have to worry about board. We are taken to the hospital on a Red Cross ambulance every morning and brought back.” “We haven’t an outdoor uniform, so have to wear civilian clothes.” “We wake about 5 o’clock every morning. I share a room with a pal of mine, and am so pleased. We trained together.” In 1916 Phoebe served on the Hospital Ship Dongola, including the Bombay to Suez run and the Persian Gulf to Mesopotamia run. At the end of May they had arrived at Bombay for the third time, and Phoebe and her fellow nurses were accommodated at the Hotel Taj for some time before the ship was due to sail again. In October she noted that the weather was getting much cooler which enabled them to amuse themselves with deck games when there were no patients to care for. She was still on the ship in January 1917, and wrote that they had “had a most delightful trip across to German East Africa.” Arriving at Dar-es-Salam on the 4th, Phoebe was excited to note that: “This is the nearest I have been to actual warfare, so you may guess we were most keen to see the ruins of various buildings and all we could.” After 2 days they left with a full ship of patients, including some for Tanga and Mombassa. While taking on more patients from another ship at Mombassa, Phoebe went for a drive around the town, but having been on night duty found she was too tired to take much interst in her surrounds. They then departed for Bombay once more. It’s possible she left the ship at Suez on the 11/3/1917 when it’s noted in the ship’s diary that the Nursing Sisters disembarked on transfer – 11 Sisters being brought on board the following day. By April 1917 Phoebe was stationed at the Citadel Hospital in Cairo, and on the 27th was having her first day off since arriving in Cairo. With their wards being “frantically busy”, she felt guilty about not working, but had been told she needed the rest. In July, although the hospital was short staffed, she was on light duties assisting the home Sister, as she recovered from a severe mosquito bite which had puffed up both her eye and cheek which had to be lanced. At this stage it is not known where she served over the following two years. [Note: Due to the fact that she went on to serve with the ‘regular’ QAIMNS in WW2 – her service record is still held by the Ministry of Defence] Phoebe returned to Australia on the Megantic which left Liverpool on the 9/1/1920 and arrived at Fremantle on the 13/2/1920 Undertook a Midwifery Course in Melbourne Private nursing 1920 to 1921 Sister at Suva Hospital, Fiji 1922 to 1924 Matron of the Government Hospital, Levuka, Fiji in 1925 Having left the Fiji Islands, Phoebe embarked in Sydney in December 1925 on the ss Moreton Bay and arrived Plymouth, England on the 15/1/1926 – where she joined the ‘regular’ QAIMNS Arrived Fremantle 16/1/1928 on the Narkunda Arrived Fremantle 7/4/1931 on the Maloja from Bombay, India Embarked on the Naldera at Fremantle 5/5/1931 Arrived Fremantle 28/7/1936 on the Straithaird from Bombay, India India 1931, 1943, 1945 England 1938 [New Zealand 1942] WW2 Service: Matron, QAIMNS (Reg no. 206161) Departed Fremantle in 1942 on the troopship Ille de France Matron, Abbattabad, India 1943 Awarded the Royal Red Cross (RRC, 1st Class) – London Gazette 1/1/1945 Citation: Perfect example of zeal and selfless devotion BURMA. Insignia presented by the Governor of WA at Government House, Perth 3/3/1950 [Phoebe resident of 57 Napier St, Claremont, WA, at time of presentation] West African Military Hospital, India Returned to Australia in August 1946 on the SS Burnside on furlough Staying with a friend in NSW in March 1948 Arrived Fremantle 29/12/1950 in the Himalaya from London Claremont 1949, 1950 1955: P.J. Gibbs, Female Nurse, born 28/7/1890, travelling on NZ passport, embarked at Fremantle on the SS Otranto – and arrived Southampton 16/9/1955, with the intention of living in England Departed Southampton 12/4/1956 on the Dominion Monarch for Australia and arrived at Fremantle 9/5/1956 (Retired) 1958, 1963 Electoral Rolls: 1 Gerald St, Sth Perth (Como) (no occup) Phoebe died on the 12th of July 1968 in Christchurch, New Zealand Kalgoorlie Miner (WA), Fri 14 Apr 1899 (p.7): Coolgardie Police Court ……………………………………………… Coolgardie, April 12 WAGES CASE Mrs Barrett sued J.H. Gibbs for the sum of 10 pounds alleged to be due for taking care of defendant’s children during the illness of his wife in the hospital. The Bench dismissed the case, with costs against the plaintiff. Western Mail (Perth, WA), Sat 29 Jun 1901: GIRLS’ ORPHANAGE The distribution of prizes in connection with the Girls’ Orphanage, Adelaide-terrace, Perth, took place in the grounds of that institution on Tuesday afternoon, ……………………………… In the intermediate examination, 1900, for children between ten and fourteen years of age, …… Second class certificates had been obtained by ………., and Phoebe Gibbs 55 marks. ……………. Western Mail (Perth, WA), Sat 8 Nov 1902: SOUTH PERTH CHILDREN’S BALL (By “Adrienne”) The children’s fancy-dress ball given by the Mayor and Mayoress of South Perth (Mr and Mrs Charles) in the local Mechanic’s Institute on October 31, was a great success. ……………… ………………………………………………………………….. Among the young people present were: - ………………………………………….. ………………Master “Ted” Gibbs, Jack; Miss Phoebe Gibbs, Jill; …………………………. Mount Morgans Mercury (WA), Wed 26 Sept 1906 (p.3): TAILINGS Miss Phoebe Gibbs the coming crack shot Morgans L.R.C. The West Australian (Perth, WA), Wed 30 Dec 1914 (p.6): NEWS AND NOTES Perth Public Hospital – The monthly meeting of the board of management of Perth Public Hospital was held yesterday afternoon. ………………………………. The house committee reported …………………….., that Nurse Gibbs had been promoted to staff nurse, ……………………. Kalgoorlie Western Argus, Tue 24 Aug 1915 (p.24): KALGOORLIE NURSE IN ALEXANDRIA Mr and Mrs Gibbs, of 2193 Varden-street, Kalgoorlie, have received an interesting letter from their daughter, Sister Phoebe Gibbs, of No 15 General Hospital, Alexandria Egypt. Writing on June 22 last, Sister Gibbs says:- “Most sincerely hope that you have received my letters. We had to be most careful what we wrote aboard. We [dis]embarked at Suez on June 17; on duty June 18 at No. 15 Military Hospital, Alexandria. Only 15 of our girls came to Alexandria. Twenty New Zealand sisters arrived on the following day. The hospital is an ideal place. We have 1400 to 1500 patients, the boys coming direct from the Dardanelles – most pathetic. It was a large secondary school called Abyssinia, and the military authorities took it over only about eight weeks ago. In my ward there are 55 men, only one from W.A. They are sent to the tents or transported as they are convalescent, some to England, Malta, Cyprus, and Australia. It is quite common to hear the boys say, ‘I am going to England this afternoon,’ just as a matter of course. You cannot realise what some have gone through. The lads have told me most pathetic things, and they are wonderfully brave, the real true Australian spirit. Numbers of them are maimed for life, and so young, but not a grown from one I have met yet. You can’t help feeling proud of them. You may never hear what really happened at the Dardanelles. We are living at one hotel (de France) and dine at the swanky place, Regina. This is a most cosmopolitan place, with Greeks, Arabs, Turks, numbers of French, Italians, etc., but not many Europeans, only our own boys. At any time I may be sent on transport in less than four hours’ notice, to any of the places I have mentioned. You could do anything when you hear and see what some or our boys have gone through. You don’t know how at times I appreciate seeing a white face, especially our Australians. Only in these foreign parts can you understand. The heat here at times is simply terrific; some say it is much worse at Cairo. Well, I hope you are all well. Lots of love to all. I will write as often as I can. The old saying, ‘No news is good news,’ so don’t worry at all about me. I may go on transport at any time or be sent to England. As I write here I am listening to the jabbering of Egyptians outside my windows. Everything is most expensive, and I am just about ‘stony.’ We do not know anything about salaries. We were not equipped, wearing our own uniforms, and laundry is so expensive. At any rate, we don’t have to worry about board. We are taken to the hospital on a Red Cross ambulance every morning and brought back. I am getting quite used to the foreign languages, and black faces peering from all corners. We have some beautiful shops here, so unlike an English town, though. Some of the French people dress beautifully. We haven’t an outdoor uniform, so have to wear civilian clothes. In these Oriental parts, all the coloured people seem so busy at nights. Shops remain open until 8 pm, entertainments commence at 10 pm and continue until after midnight. In fact, you hear terrific noises the greater part of the night. We wake about 5 o’clock every morning. I share a room with a pal of mine, and am so pleased. We trained together.” Kalgoorlie Miner (WA), Wed 12 Jul 1916 (p.1): HOSPITAL SHIP WORK IMPRESSION FROM A NURSE Mrs Gibbs, of 2193 Varden-street, Piccadilly, has received the attached interesting letter from her daughter, who is on the A.I.F. nursing staff: – “Bombay, June 5, 1916. Dear Mother – We have been here for seven days now, staying at the Taj. It is a bonny hotel, scores of sisters are staying here. Just a few months ago this hotel was taken over by the military authorities for our officers and home for the sisters working in various hospitals in Bombay. I will not be sorry when we go back on the boat. It was absolutely delightful to be on land for a time, but we are all so very tired of it now – it does not take very long to spend the little cash one has. We people have seen most of the sights of Bombay – this being my third visit here. India is a most fascinating place. I would love to spend some time here – the natives are so gay in their dress and most picturesque. Just now the gardens look positively gorgeous. The tropical trees are in full bloom, and it presents such a picture to gaze out on the masses of scarlet and pink blossom. We have been motoring quite a lot, taxi drives now-a-days are almost as cheap as a garry. The buildings here are huge, and scores of the larger buildings have been taken as hospitals. How long we stay here we do not know, only yesterday we heard a rumour that there is a possibility of our ship going to Durban. Would it not be bonny? The Assaye is to sail tomorrow for England I believe. I have several old Australian chums aboard her. However, I do hope we will soon get the other side of the canal, this being monsoon season, the weather is so changeable, intense heat and almost continuous showers. I do hope we do not get it rough going back. Luckily for us we escaped a very severe storm just a few days out at sea. A ship arriving in port several days later, reported having a very rough time. How our poor tossing Dongola would fare is hard to say. Last trip I concluded I am not the good sailor I thought I was. However, if we do run through to Southampton our next trip, I hope to get to a hospital somewhere in France. How is dad keeping these days? I hope his health is good, and the boys. Would I not love them to see some of the funny sights one sees in these Oriental places; also the natives in their various garbs. Gerrard would absolutely laugh until his sides ached – anyway, tell them I will have such a lot of news for them when I do come home again. Mother, this military life is right enough, but the rules we people have to submit to, why it is absolutely appalling. Sometimes one thinks they are just learing to crawl – but you may guess an Australian is not afraid to speak occasionally, as I have heard it expressed, “We are not the cottonwool girls.” …..My health so far is good. Heaps of love from your affectionate daughter, Phoebe.” Kalgoorlie Western Argus, Tue 12 Sept 1916 (p.32): KALGOORLIE NURSE ON ACTIVE SERVICE WORK ON HOSPITAL SHIP Mrs J Gibbs, of Varden-street, Kalgoorlie, has recently received several letters from her daughter, Miss Phoebe Gibbs, who is a nurse on a hospital ship running between Bombay and Suez. In the first letter Nurse Gibbs stated that their ship had just arrived at Suez after a very rough trip from India. Not until after they had left the Arabian Sea and entered the Gulf of Aden did they feel at all comfortable. They had many weak men aboard, malaria, dysentery, and enteric patients (convalescents), and the heat met with in the Red Sea was terrific. A second letter, written from Bombay, stated that they expected to remain in India about two months. Continuing, Miss Gibbs says: “The sickness amongst the troops in Mesopotamia is appalling. Thousands, I hear, are down with enteric, dysentery, and some even with cholera, so there is plenty of medical work for us to do. Our ship is to come off the Suez to Bombay run and to do the Persian Gulf trip to Mesopotamia. We run almost to Basra, our ship being too large to go any further up the gulf, and we are quite sure of doing two trips. After that we do not know what may happen. I trust it is then to England.” Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA), Tue 14 Nov 1916 (p.15): IN THE ARABIAN SEA LETTER FROM KALGOORLIE NURSE Nurse Phoebe Gibbs, in the course of a letter written on October 2, somewhere in the Arabian Sea, to her mother in Varden-street, Kalgoorlie, says:- “Had a pleasant trip up the Gulf and only one passenger aboard. It is getting much cooler now so we are able to amuse ourselves with deck games, sewing, and reading on the up-run. We had a concert this time, given by the RAMC boys. Would you believe it, there is absolutely no talent among the sisters aboard – not one singer? Whilst anchored in the Gulf the crew did quite a lot of fishing and caught some fairly big fish. Only remained there one day, took on our British patients, and are now wending our way in the direction of Bombay. Rumours say this may be our last Gulf run, but I am doubtful. My one and only wish is that on arrival in Suez we are not taken off the ship. How I wish we could go on the Salonika run! Some of my friends have been awfully fortunate – running from Alexandria to Southampton, then to Havre; Southampton to Salonika and then to Bombay. Some travelling and seeing the world, I say! However, one must not murmur now-a-days. Our latest news from France was indeed very good. The Anzacs have done good work in that quarter. One thing one must admit – they got an enormous amount of praise from the public, more so than the Tommy, which seems somewhat unfair. How I wish I could hear more news from along the Canal. Our Light Horse Regiments and New Zealand Mounted are stationed in that part.” Western Argus (Kalgoorlie, WA), Tue 27 Feb 1917 (p.11): GERMAN EAST AFRICA Miss Phoebe Gibbs, who is serving as a nurse on the hospital ship, Dongola, writes on January 17 to her parents, who live in Varden-street, Kalgoorlie, as follows:- “Had a most delightful trip across to German East Africa. On New Year’s Day we crossed the Equator. It was such sport, because the sailors and crew had arranged the customary performance. Consequently Father Neptune and party arrived, dealt out to all invaders of his dominions the usual punishment, which is convicting, trying, shaving and bathing. We had aboard about 40 people who were crossing the line for the first time, so you can just picture the sport. It is a nine days’ run from Bombay to Dar-es-Salam, our first port of call, and the weather was perfect. Arrived at Dar-es-Salam on the 4th. The entrance to the harbour is so narrow, and going in you pass a vessel sunk by the Germans. Their object was to prevent British troops from entering. The harbour is awfully pretty – no dirty wharves to gaze at. Everything is so delightfully green, such luxuriant growth. From the harbour (built among all the dense growth) may be seen the old observation tower used by the Germans when we were bombarding Dar-es-Salam. It looks from the distance like a huge tree, or palm, towering above others, and entirely concealed by creepers. No wonder our battleships could not locate it from outside the harbour. The town itself is only small, beautifully situated, and the buildings quite of recent building. There are two very fine churches, and the roads are indeed well made – trust the Huns for that! Ships like ours lie off in the harbour, and are loaded by lighters, though only about seven minutes’ run ashore. Portions of two cruisers may be seen peeping out of the water in the harbour, sunk during the bombardment. This is the nearest I have been to actual warfare, so you may guess we were most keen to see the ruins of various buildings and all we could. Our stay was to be very short. However, luck favoured us. Cars were sent along for our party, and we were motored everywhere. Visited the ruins of the Governor’s palace (the result of a shell from one of our battleships). It is now the abode of a few military South African motor-cyclists. From there we motored by lines of German trenches and barb-wire entanglements- what a wicked invention they are! – continued on through native villages and through mango and coconut groves. Sentries, of course, were stationed at various parts of the roads. Several times our car slowed down, and then we were allowed to pass. It is only about nine months since General Smuts took possession and hoisted our Union Jack. Still, there are a fair number of German inhabitants, mostly women, and I believe everyone has to report at 6pm, and get indoors. Going through the town I could not help noticing the little Huns. “We only spent two days in the port, and only one trip ashore. We left with a full ship, having some patients on deck for Tanga and Mombassa. That, of course, is only a day’s run. We disembarked 150 Indians at Tanga, but did not go ashore. We reached Mombassa the same afternoon, but disembarkation did not take place until the following morning. We actually carried from Dar-es-Salam to Mombassa about 60 white troops, South Africans chiefly, and they are fine fellows, so like our colonials. It was heavenly to have them again. I was the lucky person, they being among my charges for night duty. Had about 60 Indians besides – mostly interesting men, too – having been in this part almost since the beginning of the campaign. I was so sorry to lose them all at Mombassa. Such is fate, though! Well, we had a run ashore at this port. The harbour is indeed a charming spot; but the town was too dirty and dusty for me. It was about two and a half miles from the harbour – a most historical place and I gazed on the famous old Portuguese fort. We motored through the native portion of the town, and I must say we had a most marvellous driver. Never have I known a car to get in and out such queer places. What impressed me most was the exquisite carvings on some of the doors and beams of these tumble-down old buildings. Having been on night duty, I was too tired to be keenly interested. We filled up the same day from a ship lying in the harbour. This ship was to sail for Durban, and we took our departure for Bombay in the afternoon. We are to make port about 11 o’clock in the morning.” Western Argus (Kalgoorlie, WA), Tue 26 Jun 1917 (p.7): NURSING THE WOUNDED KALGOORLIE GIRL IN EGYPT Miss Phoebe Gibbs, writing from Citadel Hospital, Cairo, on April 27, to her mother, who lives in Varden-street, Kalgoorlie, says:- “Having my first day off duty since arrival in Cairo. Really I feel awfully wicked in taking it, because our hospital wards are just what one would call “frantically busy.” But I was told I needed it, so could do nothing but take the rest. Now we are having the continuous sandstorms, flies, and all other Egyptian pests and the excessive heat. Summer is now creeping on us. Last week it was very hot. Lately we have been clearing out the partly convalescent patients to make room for others arriving by the convoys, which have been most frequent since the last big attack on ‘Gaza.’ You have no idea what the men have to go through these times. Some of those men are fine fellow, not youths. The average English Tommy one comes in contact with these days is a married man with a family – some with families of four and even eight children. One of my patients gave me a form to read the other day. Poor father wounded in the right foot, and this was to inform him of the death of his second son in France. Can Australia murmur at what she is doing? What has England given when you daily come in contact with people like that? It is indeed surprising – the men arriving wounded into hospital, and in a very short time you will hear ‘Sister, could you get me some writing paper so I can write home to my wife to tell her I am doing well. The Tommy is not nearly so bad as perhaps some Australians, who have not been with him in camp life, think he is. The last wounded have such a grand opinion of our Light Horse boys.” The Daily News (Perth, WA), Fri 12 Oct 1917 (p.4): A CALL FROM THE DESERT There is a call from the desert in a letter written by Nurse Phoebe Gibbs to her mother, in Kalgoorlie, which may be commended for consideration to the slackers who will not go to the war, and to the men, over-age, who cannot go themselves, but are using their influence to discourage recruiting by fostering the impression that Australia has already done enough, or more than enough, in this war. Miss Gibbs wrote under date July 21, from the Citadel Hospital, Cairo: – “I see Australia is not coming up to the line with the recruits. There should be men enough to come forward and do their duty for their country. It makes you think the worst of them when you see the boys down from the desert. For 12 and 18 months some have not seen or spoken to a white lady. ‘Those class’ speak of protecting their wives, but what of England? Almost every third man is married, and they have to come. We read in the papers that the 1st Division is to be relieved and sent back home, but can they be reinforced? Not at the present rate.” There is the opinion on the necessity for stimulation of recruiting of a woman who has sacrificed her own personal comfort to go to the front and nurse the sick and wounded, in conditions that almost always must be extremely irksome for a woman. She is doing her bit, and her opinion, the opinion of her class, is entitled to respect. She writes with restraint, and there is a note of pleading in her letter. But there is in it also the veiled contempt of a woman for the cowards who are deserting their brothers on the field of battle. “They speak of protecting their wives.” She knows that excuse for what it is worth. There will presently be another attempt to revivify the recruiting movement. Let the eligibles take to heart the words of Nurse Phoebe Gibbs, and remember, too, that what Nurse Gibbs has written every woman at the front, and the majority of those at home, are now thinking. Western Argus (Kalgoorlie, WA), Tue 16 Oct 1917 (p.32): NURSING THE WOUNDED LETTER FROM GOLDFIELDS GIRL A MOSQUITO BITE Nurse Phoebe Gibbs, in the course of a letter written from the Citadel Hospital, Cairo, on July 21, to her mother, Mrs J. Gibbs, of Varden-street, Kalgoorlie, says:- “One does look for letters these days. Life is not too cheery at times, and mail day is eagerly looked forward to. Had to be taken off night duty before my time was up. Would you believe, I was bitten by a beastly little mosquito on the cheek? Well, my eye puffed, and my cheek, and I had to have the septic spot opened, which hurt, you may guess. For about five days I went about with my face swathed in bandages, looking rather interesting. – so they say. However, my face is better, and as the matron apparently thinks I am somewhat run down, I am doing what one calls light duty – assisting the home sister. Rather amusing, doing pot plants, etc. I’m afraid ward work has a greater call for me. Anyway, I must be content; it is not always one falls into the light work. “The …….. arrived in Suez the other day with over 200 sisters (Australian) on board. At present 105 are staying at the Continental Hotel, awaiting orders. Evidently they were under the impression they were on the way to Salonica. No one knows as yet. I only wish some will be sent to us, as we are indeed short staffed. They staffed a hospital ship to run to E. Africa last week, and three from our place went. As soon as volunteers are wanted for the Mediterranean run, yours truly shall be among them. I don’t want to go east again – so utterly sic of black faces. “I see Australia is not coming up to the line with her recruits. They should be men enough to come forward and do their duty for their country. It makes you think the worst of them when you see the boys down from the desert. For 12 and 18 months some have not seen or spoken to a white lady. ‘Those class’ speak of protecting their wives, but what of England? Almost every third man is married, and they have to come. We read in the papers that the 1st Division is to be relieved and sent back home, but can they be reinforced? Not at the present rate. “Well, one cannot give much news these days. Same old thing day after day. Went to a garrison concert the other night, given by the Flying Corps, for the convalescent patients. It did break the monotony for the week.” The Age (Melb, Vic), Wed 13 May 1942 (p.3): WOMEN’S SECTION – NURSES’ ORDEAL ………………………………………. Another Q.A.I.N.S. sister with the small party of Australian and British nurses who have arrived here told how the small cargo ship on which she originally set out to travel to Australia was torpedoed and sunk. She is Miss P. Gibbs, of New Zealand, who served with the Australian army in the last war, and the British army in this one. It was on Good Friday morning that an enemy submarine attacked the cargo ship. “We could see the periscope, and then the trail of the first torpedo,” Miss Gibbs recalled. “That No. 1 torpedo got us – and then after firing several more, the submarine came to the surface to finish off the job with shells.” Miss Gibbs was one of five women aboard the cargo ship. With a supply of prunes and a little water as their only food stocks, they drifted in open boats for fourteen hours before they were rescued. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 3 Dec 1942 (p.5258): War Office, 3rd December, 1942 The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the publication of the undermentioned as having been commended for brave conduct: – Miss Phoebe Jane Gibbs (206161), Sister, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. The Daily News (Perth, WA), Thur 11 Jan 1945 (p.6): Two-War Nurse Gets High Honour A gallant West Australian nurse who served in the last war and is serving now was awarded the Royal Red Cross in the New Year honours. She is Matron P.J. (Phoebe) Gibbs, now serving with Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, somewhere in India, and whose nursing service dates from March, 1915, when she went overseas with a party of West Australian nurses. Last year Matron Gibbs received a citation from the King for bravery which was followed by this New Year’s honour of the Royal Red Cross. The first citation ran: “By the King’s Order the name of Sister P.J. Gibbs, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, was published in the London Gazette on December 3, 1942, as commended for brave conduct. I am charged to record His Majesty’s high appreciation of the services rendered. (Signed) P.J. Grigg, Secretary of State for War.” TORPEDOING EPISODE A few sidelights on the “services rendered” were given by a friend of Matron Gibbs who told how this brave nurse, on her way home to spend her leave in New Zealand, more than two years ago, was in a ship which was torpedoed. Matron Gibbs took a hand with the oars until the survivors were picked up by a destroyer, in which there were badly burned rescued men. She nursed wounded on board the destroyer, was transferred to several other ships before she eventually arrived at her destination. Matron Gibbs is the second daughter of the late Mr J. Gibbs, underground manager of Mount Morgans Mine, and a sister of Mrs J. Gerke, of 57 Napier Street, Claremont, who yesterday received a laconically worded international telegram from her sister: “Name in honour list Royal Red Cross.” She trained at the Perth Hospital, and went to the “Q.As.” when whe went overseas in 1915. After the Armistice she joined up with the regulars, and was still a “Q.A.” at the outbreak of this war. She has been in many different theatres of Q.A.I.M.N.S work, including Hong Kong and Malaya as well as India. The Australian Women’s Weekly, Sat 10 Mar 1945 (p.18): INTERESTING PEOPLE MATRON P GIBBS ……long service AUSTRALIAN nurse, Matron Phoebe Gibbs, of Perth, now in India with Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service, who was recently awarded Royal Red Cross for brave conduct, has been Army nursing continuously for thirty years. Left Australia in 1915 with A.I.F. Served in Hongkong, Malaya, India. Two years ago was in torpedoed ship, assisted with oars in lifeboat, when picked up by destroyer nursed badly burned men. [photo] The Daily News (Perth, WA), Wed 28 Aug 1946 (p.9): Quayside Flashes WA Hospital Trainee Returns On Furlough From India Principal Matron P.J. Gibbs, who trained at Perth Hospital, reached Fremantle today from India in the s.s. Burnside. She was wearing the uniform of Queen Alexandria’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. When she left Fremantle in 1942 in the troopship Ille de France she was the only woman passenger among 7000 American servicemen. She holds the Royal Red Cross (1st class). She was commended for bravery at sea when a ship on which she was serving was sunk, but could not be induced to talk of her wartime experiences. Miss Gibbs has recently been stationed at a big West African military hospital in India, has come to W.A. to spend furlough with her sister, Mrs A. Gerke, of Claremont. Northern Star (Lismore, NSW), Sat 20 Mar 1948 (p.2): COMPANIONS of world war 1 are together again…Miss Phoebe J. Gibbs, a former matron of the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service of India, is holidaying at Old Bonalbo with Mr and Mrs Bruce Robertson, of “Clovelly”. Miss Gibbs and Mrs Robertson are friends of the 1914 war. Miss Gibbs, however, is a two-war veteran, having joined the Q.A.I.M.N.S. in 1915, and served with the same service until a few months ago. During one portion of her service, she was travelling on a ship which was torpedoed. Miss Gibbs received the Royal Red Cross in the Honours list of 1942. She has served in the upper reaches of China, Malaya and India, in addition to services in Finland, Italy and England. The West Australian, Sat 4 Mar 1950: FOURTEEN AWARDS AT WA INVESTITURE …………………………………………………………………. ROYAL RED CROSS (First Class) MATRON (NOW PRINCIPAL MATRON PHOEBE JANE GIBBS of Napier-street, Claremont, for zeal and selfless devotion to duty in an open boat when torpedoed.