• Anne Victoria Reay

  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • 1914 Star
  • Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) (ARRC)
  • Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
Stories and comments
    • REAY, Annie Victoria Clarabel (Nan) – Sister, (MID, ARRC), AVH, QAIMNSR
    • Posted by FrevFord, Wednesday, 14 January 2015

    Born in 1884 at Coleraine, Vic – the second daughter of Lieut-Colonel William Thomas REAY, O.B.E. and Lucinda Braithwaite (Louie) BROADBENT, who married in Vic in 1882 William accompanied the forces in the Boer War as the Herald Correspondent, serving with the Victorian Mounted Rifles. He died in 1929 in London, age 71 and Lucinda died 6/9/1944 at Glen Iris, Vic age 83 [Note: Nan gives her DOB as 1885 on her QA application] Siblings: Alice Lucinda b.1883 – marr. WATERS – d.1/8/1944, age 61; George b.&d.1886 (5D) Coleraine; Amy Jubilee b.1887 Hamilton – marr. BURMAN – d.1971 Armadale, Vic; Beatrice Johanna b.1889 Hamilton – marr. BULL – d.1977 Camberwell, Vic; Earle Hamilton b.1890 Hamilton & d.1891 (8M); Millicent Mary b.1892 Hawthorn – marr. MEAKIN. Educated at Tintern Ladies College, Glenferrie In the Upper Sixth Class in Jan 1903 – she was awarded prizes in Physiology, and French (by the vote of the school) Trained in nursing at the Melbourne Hospital for 3 years from 1907, and stayed on staff until 1911 as sister-in-charge of a male surgical ward – she then nursed privately in both Australia and England until the outbreak of war Member of the R.V.T.N.A. 1909 At her parent’s home in Shakespeare Grove, Hawthorn, in Feburary 1910, she had jewellery stolen when the house was burgled while the family slept: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/89698147 Travelled to England on the Orsova, arriving 9/12/1911, with her mother Louie and sisters Millie, Beatrice, Amy & Alice On behalf of the Victorian Government, she returned to Australia in charge of a ship load of migrants in 1912 – departing London on the 1/10/1912 on the Indrapura Travelled back to England on the Otway, with Ada Gabriel – arriving 12/4/1913 WW1: “At the declaration of war she was at the front rank of her profession in England. She gave up her private work, however, to go to France with the Australian Voluntary Hospital organized by Lady Dudley. She had charge of the operating theatre. Sister Reay is one of a limited number of sisters appointed as anesthetists to relieve medical men at the front.” One of the original 17 nurses to enlist in the Australian Voluntary Hospital (AVH) AWM group photo P01064.006 taken 27/8/1914 England http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P01064.006 The Australian Voluntary Hospital by Katherine Susannah Pritchard 1915: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/120804731 The History of the AVH, WW1 – Lt Col N.C. Smith, AM (p.5): Sister Reay, who was later decorated, recorded the situation surrounding the hasty departure from the advancing Germans and the impact of the Mons fighting: Equipment was insufficient, also supplies. The beds were camp beds, nursing was inconvenient and difficult. Food was in short supply, staff insufficient. Wounded were being received from the Mons front, and as a result of the pressure at the front line, a serious condition arose, when the hospital had to be evacuated. The people of the district also fled… The evacuation of the wounded was right in the line of the retreat. There were four days and nights with a minimum of sleep; no water for washing was available. Staff had no possessions, having had to leave everything behind. Finally the evacuated hospital wounded and staff reached Etaples. When the AVH was taken over by the War Office on the 1st July 1916 and renamed No.32 Stationary Hospital, Nan was one of the 23 nurses who joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR) – staying on at the hospital until 1917 To England on 14 days special Leave 30/8/1916 – rejoining for duty 12/9/1916 Extracts from the diary of British VAD, Dorothea Crewdson, serving at No.32 Stat Hosp, Wimereux: Wed, 22nd Nov 1916: VADs are all off this evening to go to the first of a course of lectures, on a syllabus drawn up by Military Authority and subject to the supervision of Matron. Sister Reay gave a lecture in the small theatre in the hut next to D. …………… All of us a bit jaded but we quite enjoyed the lecture all the same. (p.190) Sat, 25th Nov 1916: Have had the second of the lectures for the instruction of VADs, delivered by Sister Reay according to the strict orders to Matron from Military Headquarters. (p.192) Sun, 22nd Apr 1917: She [Christie Ellis] was very despairing at being put on night [duty] and separated from Sister Reay, ……… Thur, 17th May 1917: C [Christie] has gone with Sister Reay up to the Chateau, so goodness knows what time she will be back. Sister Reay has an entire day off so she is at C’s disposal. The grande passion continues and seems to be mutual. If anything happened and one or other of us was moved away to new place, I don’t know what would happen. There would be a weeping and gnashing of teeth. (p.218-19) Tue, 30th Aug 1917: Many distraught people in the hospital tonight – two broken hearts anyway – the cause of the anguish being the arrival of Sister Reay’s moving orders for tomorrow morning. (p.228) I will miss Sister Reay’s charming face from the throng of Sisters, she having been so nice to us always and a rather special champion of the VADs. (p.229) Fri, 7th Sept 1917: Sister Reay and Sister Searle are still awaiting their moving orders. Very odd indeed that they haven’t been sent to their destination. (p.232) Wed, 21st Nov 1917: Sister Reay was down for the night on her way on leave, staying at the hospital here, much to C’s joy. She must have been having a terrible time with air raids practically every night and living in dugouts with no chance of getting much sleep. (p.240) Transferred to 34th CCS 10/9/1917 Nurses Hostel, Boulogne 16/11/1917 Transferred to 26th Gen Hosp, Boulogne 6/12/1917 To 1st Adv Oper Corps, V Army 31/1/1918 Attached to 46th CCS 28/2/1918 To 4th Gen Hosp 27/3/1918 Extracts from the diary of British VAD, Dorothea Crewdson, serving at No.46 Stat Hosp, Etaples: Sat, 19th Jan 1918: C is in seventh heaven, having Sister Reay so near on night duty. She sees her every day and worships more and more at her shrine. (p.250) Tue, 29th Jan 1918: Have seen very little of C since she went on night duty. She is out every available moment with Sister Reay, basking in her presence and her smiles. ……………….. Williams tells me tonight that Sister Reay has got her moving orders, so there will be some weeping and gnashing of teeth at that blow! (p.252) Sun, 24th Mar 1918: C [Christie] is worrying about Sister Reay, the fighting is all down in the part where she is, not far from La Fere, …….(p.260) Tue, 15th Apr 1918: Williams and I pursued our way into Camiers Camp and I left a note with Sister Reay from Ellis and saw her very busy at work in the theatre as a case was brought in. (p.264) Sun, 21st Jul 1918: Christie turned up safely on Thursday, very pleased to be back but not so pleased to be put at once on night duty pro tem, and still less pleased – in fact quite desolee – to have a hurried visit from Sister Reay with the news that her moving orders had come and she was departing the next day. (p.286) Wed, 22nd Jan 1919: [staying overnight at No.32 SH, Wimereux en route to a battlefield tour] Up this morning in time for the first breakfast with the rest of the party who slept three together in a room upstairs, Sisters Reay and Gabriel’s old room. (p.316) Leave 10/6/1918 – 24/6/1918, with 7 days extension, granted because she had spent most of her original leave re-equipping herself, after losing all her kit which was abandoned under orders in the evacuation of Noyon To Nurses Hostel, Abbeville 19/7/1918 To 19th CCS 5/8/1918 – 12th Stat Hosp 6/9/1918 – 19th CCS 11/9/1918 – 18th CCS 7/10/1918 – 19th CCS 28/10/1918 Report, Sister K.G. Flower, 19th CCS, 11/1/1919: “Miss Reay has been I/C theatre ever since she joined 19 CCS but has relieved in the wards during quiet times. She is an excellent theatre sister and a thoroughly good nurse. Is ylways punctual, good tempered kind and tactful, thoroughly conscientious and has always proved herself capable and willing to help in every way both in the hospital and in the mess.” Resigned 25/1/1919 in order to marry Maj. Herbert Sampson, M.C., R.A.M.C., of Birmingham [it seems the marriage did not go ahead] Her (first) fiancé 2nd Lieut Arthur Denzil ONSLOW (MC), 11th Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regt was KIA 13/8/1916 – he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial Born 14/1/1887 at Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, the son of (the late) William Arthur & Mary Elizabeth (nee Cartwright) Onslow of Preston, Bagot House, Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, he was a student of theology in 1911 Arthur had also worked at the AVH, crossing to France 29/8/1914 (Cpl 24) [WO 371/15/57522] http://www.keble.ox.ac.uk/about/past/keble-and-the-great-war/roll-of-honour-1914-1918/second-lieutenant-arthur-denzil-onslow-1906 Returned to Australia on the Orvieto, embarked 1/11/1919 – described as War Worker, non AIF (along with Ada GABRIEL) RTA: http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=6043100 1964 Repat advised she served with QAIMNS – last recorded address as 70 Evesham Rd, Cheltenham One of Australia’s first Industrial Nurses (Welfare Officer, Bryant & May – 1920’s & 30’s) [Photo at SLV showing her seated at her desk in her sick bay at B&M] Involved in many fund raising appeals throughout the years President of the Tintern Old Girls’ Association 1926 President of the Inter-house Girls’ Sports Association (1932) [SLV photo of Calisthenics class – with Sister Reay in middle - 1927] Vice-president of the Prince Henry’s Hosp Auxiliary (1938, 1939) President of the Returned Army Nurses Club / Association 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941 – retired June 1941 [Photo of Nan Reay at a 1940 function at the Nurses Club] Living Caulfield 1949 / Moorabbin 1963 / Armadale 1968 Died December 1968 Armadale, age 84 Buried Springvale Botanical Cemetery 12/12/1968 (RC Monumental Comp G Sec 1 Grave4) Weekly Times (Vic), Sat 3 Oct 1914 (p.33): NURSES AT THE FRONT Among the nurses with the Australian field hospital organised by Lady Dudley are three sisters of the Melbourne Hospital, Miss Nan Reay, Miss Ada Gabriel, and Miss Greaves. The Australian nurses are to wear a distinctive dress – a grey out-door uniform with a very grey bonnet edged with brown velvet, and having brown ribands tied under the chin; and a grey linen in-door uniform, with a little scarlet cape, a badge with “Australia” engraved on it. Punch (Melb, Vic) Thur 31 Dec 1914 (p.22): THE LADIES LETTER Two girls who were sisters in the Melbourne Hospital for years went out to the front together under Lady Dudley’s chaperonage in the Australian Field Hospital. Miss Nan Reay, daughter of Lieut-Colonel Reay (Australian Mounted Infantry, and present representative of Melbourne “Herald” in London), and Miss Ada Gabriel (generally known as “Gabe”). Previous to the war Miss Nan Reay (real Dresden china beauty girl) had been doing active service in the houses of the mighty for two years under one of London’s leading specialists. Miss Reay left the house of the crowned monarch, and the observing eyes of the flunkeys who acted “sphinx” behind her chair during her period of nursing Duchess Somebody-or-other, straight for the folding-bed and canvas bath of “field” life. And the spirit of fun travelled along with her and every other nurse, especially when the hospital issued a “ready-for-patients” warrant, and the first casualty was “Gabe” (otherwise Miss Gabriel), who slipped on something or other in the kitchen department, and sprained her ankle. The Register (Adelaide, SA), Fri 12 Nov 1915 (p.9): ABSENT FRIENDS SOUTH AUSTRALIANS IN ENGLAND Wandsworth – Mrs W.T. Reay, wife of Col. Reay, left by the Orontes for Australia. She intends to spend some months in visiting her married daughters in Melbourne and Adelaide. A large party assembled at St Pancras Station to bid farewell to Mrs Reay on Sunday, among the number being Sister Nan Reay, who came from Boulogne on special leave from the Australian Voluntary Hospital. Kyneton Guardian (Vic), Tue 8 Feb 1916 (p.2): Nurse Mentioned in Despatches Among the Red Cross nurses mentioned in Sir John French’s despatches is Nurse Reay, daughter of Colonel Reay, of London, representative of the “Melbourne Herald,” formerly a member of the journalistic staff in Melbourne. Colonel and Mrs Reay’s home in London is a favourite meeting place for Australians, especially Victorians. Weekly Times (Vic), Sat 2 Sept 1916 (p.9): THE SOCIAL CIRCLE Young Officer Killed Mrs W.T. Reay, wife of Colonel Reay, has received word that Lieutenant A.D. Onslow, 4th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who was engaged to Sister Nan Reay, has been killed in action. Sister Reay is a Victorian nurse, and was on the staff of Lady Dudley’s hospital at Boulogne. She has won recognition in England for her nursing skill. Weekly Times (Vic), Sat 12 Jan 1918 (p.10): SHARING THE DANGER RED CROSS HEROINES ………………………………………………………………………… The Royal Red Cross (Second Class), has been awarded to Miss Dorothy Newton, Miss Alicia Kelly, and Miss Nan Reay. …………………………………………………………………………….. Sister Annie Reay, known to her friends as Nan, is the second daughter of Lieut-Colonel W.T. Reay, O.B.E., London manager for “The Herald.” She trained at the Melbourne Hospital, where she worked as a staff sister for some time. At the declaration of war she was in the front rank of her profession in England, and her services were sought by the most exclusive families in England. However, she gave up her private work to go to France with the Australian Voluntary Hospital organised by Lady Dudley. She was one of the senior sisters, and for a time had charge of the operating theatre. About a year ago this hospital was taken over by the War Office, and ceased to be supported by voluntary subscriptions for Australia. Some months ago Miss Reay was sent to an advanced clearing station, which was shelled on November 9 and 11. Relating her experiences, Miss Reay wrote: - “It is past now, and I thank God for the wonderful escapes we had. By a strange piece of fortune, none of the patients was killed. One sister was injured, and an orderly was so cruelly wounded that he died. The French section of the hospital got the worst of it. It was all very terrible while it lasted; but although we do not like it, we take it as all in the fortune of war. Please believe me that we are not the least downhearted. On the contrary, we are quite cheery and ready for all that comes.” Sister Reay is one of a limited number of sisters appointed as anaesthetists to relieve medical men at the front. She is extremely popular and has a charming gentle manner. Her fiancé was killed in action about a year ago. The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 16 Jan 1918: NURSES HONOURED Sister Annie (Nan) Reay is the second daughter of Lieut-Colonel W.T. Reay, OBE. She trained at the Melbourne Hospital. At the declaration of war she was at the front rank of her profession in England. She gave up her private work, however, to go to France with the Australian Voluntary Hospital organized by Lady Dudley. She had charge of the operating theatre. Sister Reay is one of a limited number of sisters appointed as anesthetists to relieve medical men at the front. Her recognition is well earned. Weekly Times (Vic), Sat 23 Mar 1918 (p.13): SISTERS IN SERVICE Sister Nan Reay, who was recently awarded the Royal Red Cross, is now at No. 26 General Hospital, near Boulogne. She was for some time attached to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations, which was shelled several times. Maryborough & Dunolly Advertiser (Vic), Mon 1 Jul 1918: Sister Nan Reay, of Melbourne (a United Service cable message states), was invested with the Royal Red Cross of the Second Class by the King at Buckinham Palace on Saturday morning. She was afterwards received by Queen Alexandra at Marlborough House. Sister Nan Reay, who is officially known as Ann Victoria Reay, A.R.R.C., of the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service, is a daughter of Lieut-Colonel W.T. Reay, O.B.E., London manager of “The Herald”. She was trained at the Melbourne Hospital, and at the declaration of war was in England, but gave up her private work to go to France. She had a narrow escape last year from being killed by a shell in an advanced clearing station, and is now attached to No.26 General Hospital, Boulogne. Her name appeared in the last New Year Honor List as the recipient of the Royal Red Cross of the Second Class. Sister Reay is a niece of Supt. and Mrs Britt, Park Road, Maryborough, whose only son, Private Reay Britt, was killed at Gallipoli. Brunswick and Coburg Leader (Vic), Fri 5 Jul 1918 (p.4): SISTER NAN REAY LOSES EVERYTHING AT FRONT Sister Nan Reay, Royal Red Cross Nurse, daughter of Lieut-Col W.T. Reay, O.B.E., London representative of “The Herald,” and formerly a resident of Park street, Brunswick, and Parilamentary representative of the Bourke electorate, in a letter from France to her aunt, Mrs G.H. Warner, of Wendouree, says: “I wish I could tell you of my … personal experiences, but I dare not write anything. I have been through a good deal lately, and am a refugee …. Due to the German push. I am wearing borrowed clothes, having lost my kit and personal belongings. However, I am very thankful to be here, and nothing else seems to matter.” Referring to the award of the Royal Red Cross, Sister Reay says: “I had done nothing to merit it. I have just slogged away, as the boys say, and surely if that be a reason for the R.R.C., there are hundreds of others who whould have it also!” Sister Reay’s cousin, Corporal Geo. H. Warner, won the Military Medal for gallantry in bringing in a wounded officer from No Man’s Land, he and a comrade volunteering for the task. Sister Nan Reay and her sister will be remembered by the old pupils of the Brunswick College, as they were both educated there. Weekly Times (Vic), Sat 10 Aug 1918 (p.9): GENERAL NOTES Army Nurse Returning …………………………………………………………………….. Miss Hargreave had first hand information of the behaviour of Sister Nan Reay and others of the Military Nursing Staff in the March retreat on the Western Front. To her one of the nurses through whose hands these heroic women passed wrote: “These poor war-worn women, grey with dust, had not had their clothes off for five days and five nights. Bombed out of one casualty station, bravely they passed on to the next, without their kits and all their little personal treasures. Some had only what they were wearing at the time of attack – indoor uniform. Out in the open at the second station they washed, fed and tended the wounded until word came that they must move on again. This procedure continued until they reached Abbeville and were put into hospital. These sad and weary women spattered with mud and blood never thought of personal care and comfort. It was ‘I am all right nurse, see to matron’ or ‘look after Sister …..’ “One poor little sister’s feet were hot, swollen and blisterd and I could not keep the tears back as I bathed them. They were all so brave, cheerful and unselfish that one thrilled with admiration.” The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 31 Aug 1918 (p.45): AUSTRALIANS ABROAD LONDON, June 25 Sister Nan Reay, daughter of Colonel Reay, who has been very near the front lines in various hospital units lately, is in London on leave. The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 29 Mar 1919 (p.41): AUSTRALIANS ABROAD LONDON, Jan 30 The marriage of Miss Nan Reay, daughter of Colonel W.T. Reay, to Major H.H. Sampson, M.C., R.A.M.C., of Birmingham, is to take place in a few days. The Daily News (Perth, WA), Sat 26 Apr 1919 (p.3): Mainly About People Among engagements recently announced in Great Britain were those of Maj. Herbert Sampson, M.C., R.A.M.C., of Birmingham, to Miss Nan Reay, daughter of Col. and Mrs W.T. Reay, of Melbourne; … Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 25 Oct 1923 (p.31): LADIES’ LETTER Not many of the demobilised army nurses have found such a pleasant niche as Sister Nan Reay, RRC, who is the smiling young matron in charge of the welfare department at Bryant and May’s match factory at Richmond. She had over four years’ experience in France of war horrors, during which she assisted to patch up men shattered almost beyond recognition; now, her biggest casualty case is an occasional cut or bruise; but she regularly doses all the jaded girls and men who go to rest for a while in the well-appointed rooms under her care. This department is only one of the many means which the company have adopted to promote the health and happiness of their six hundred employes, and it could not have a more capable or likeable matron than Miss Reay. She is a daughter of Colonel Reay. News (Adelaide, SA), Wed 20 Jan 1926 (p.4): Woman’s World Katherine Susannah Pritchard, the Australian novelist, has come over from Western Australia for a holiday. She has not seen any Melbourne friends for five years. Sister Nan Reay gathered a few of them together to talk over a cup of tea at the Army Nurses’ Club on Saturday. At an early stage of the war Nan Reay and Kathie Pritchard got over to France into a military hospital, the one that the late Lady Dudley founded at Wimmereux. Nan was on the nursing staff and Kathie got through on a newspaper commission. Later Sister Nan Reay learnt a lot about life on active service, finishing up in the retreat from Mons. Now she has charge of the social welfare department at our large match factory. Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW), Sat 21 Nov 1931 (p.3): WAR EXPERIENCES OF ROYAL RED CROSS NURSE SISTER REAY IN WAGGA WELFARE WORK AMONG THE MATCHES An interesting visitor to Wagga is Miss Reay, R.R.C., who is the guest of Mr and Mrs R.J. Cunningham, at their home in Best street. Miss Reay is one of Mrs Cunningham’s oldest friends and was, in fact, her bridesmaid. It is 20 years since she was last in Wagga and, in course of an interview yesterday, expressed her surprise at the wonderful expansion of the town since she last saw it. In the course of those 20 years Miss Reay has had a distinguished career and some wonderful experiences. She is the daughter of the late Colonel W.T. Reay, C.B.E., V.D., who also had a distinguished career. By profession a journalist, and with a wonderful gift for organisation, he was for some years manager of the Melbourne “Herald.” He was colonel of the Victorian Mounted Rifles and went to the Boer War where he was correspondent for the “Herald.” Afterwards he went to London to establish an office of the “Herald” in Fleet street. During the Great War this office was the rendezvous of Australians in London and hundreds of them had their letters addressed there. Colonel Reay became second in command and Inspector General of Special Constabulary in London, and helped in its organisation. He died on Armistice Day two years ago. Miss Reay is a Royal Red Cross nurse. She had her early training and became a sister at the Melbourne Hospital before the war, and was a frequent visitor at the “Herald” office where her friends used to sympathise with her in her work because of its sometimes gruesome nature, she and they little realising the more gruesome experiences that were in store for her. She has spent much of her time in England and one of her most interesting experiences, she states, was being in charge of a ship load of migrants to Australia in 1912, on behalf of the Victorian Government. She returned to England and was there when war was declared. She joined the Australian Voluntary Hospital, founded by Australians in England at the outbreak of war, and of which Lady Dudley was one of the organisers and Sir Lucas Tooth a generous contributor, while Sir Alexander McCormack was one of the medical staff. This fine contingent was in the war zone long before any other Australians were in France, and it helped to nurse the wounded in the retreat from Mons. The headquarters were at Le Havre, which had to be vacated at the time that Paris was threatened, and they were transferred to St Nazaire, working there for a long time. At first they carried out their work under great difficulties through lack of adequate equipment. There were then no ambulance trains and the wounded were brought from the fighting zone in cattle trucks. Tetanus was a dreadful thing among the soldiers at that time and one of the most amazing features of the war was the wiping of it out by the use of anti-tetanus serum. It became an army order that every man wounded receive an injection of the serum. The organisation quickly improved and the hospital was transferred to Wimereux where a big hotel was taken over and it became one of the best of the war hospitals. At the end of two years the Australian hospital was taken over by the B.E.F., but continued to do excellent work throughout the war and for a year afterwards. Sister Reay was four and a half years in France. A member of the Queen Alexandria Nursing Reserve, she was sent to clearing stations at various centres and was not infrequently under fire. Though never wounded, she had some narrow escapes. She was caught in the Fifth Army retreat in March 1918, when everything was lost including hospitals and equipment, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the wounded could be got away because of the great congestion of transport facilities. After this she was fortunate to be transferred to the advancing army and participated in the big move forward that meant the breaking of the Hindenburg line. She had a most interesting time and had the honor of being mentioned in despatches by Field Marshal Sir John French in the early part of the war. The war had the same effect on Miss Reay that it had on many others; it left her very unsettled and she roamed for some time. For the last 10 years, however, she has had occupation to her liking, being matron in charge, or Welfare Superintendent, at Bryant and May’s match factory in Melbourne, where there are more than 600 people employed and everything is done for their well being. They are provided with comfortable rest room and dance hall and have a wonderful sports ground for tennis, cricket, football, and other games for both sexes. She finds the work very interesting for she finds there is no end to the work that can be done. The factory has its own hospital auxiliary and the girls do a great deal of work in the provision of linen for the hospital and have even presented the doctors with a telescope. They have also helped the unemployed in many ways, including the making of 1,000 garments for distribution last winter. The factory also has a fine choir which was successful in a recent competition. The tennis team will go to Sydney next Wednesday to play in the annual contest for the Gilbert Bartholomew Cup, donated by the chairman of the company. Miss Reay will join the team at Wagga and go with it to Sydney and will return thence to Melbourne. Asked if she was satisfied that the welfare work was worth while, Miss Reay said that the employees were undoubtedly better in health, more contented, and better workers as the result of it. In nearly 10 years of her experience there had been no serious trouble. There was hardly ever a complaint, it was rarely that one heard an order given, and everything worked like clockwork. The Argus, Sat 24 Apr 1937: WAR MEMORIES - a Nurse Looks Back Among the returned army nurses who will take part in the Anzac Day ceremonies to-morrow there will be at least one who wears the Mons Ribbon – Sister Nan Reay, RRC, who went through all the war years in active service from the beginning of the retreat from Mons and the evacuation of Le Havre in the first weeks of the war to the Armistice without a break beyond occasional short leave. In the peaceful and splendidly equipped quarters which she occupies as welfare superintendent of the Bryant and May factory in Richmond, where, for the last 16 years, she has been doing a very fine civilian job, Miss Reay yesterday recalled some of the experiences of those four long years. She spoke in particular of the first great tragedy of the war – the retreat from Mons – and of the ghastly days of the retreat from Amiens, memories of which are as vivid to-day, she says, as if they had happened yesterday. The fact that she spoke little of her own share in them, for which she was mentioned in dispatches by Sir John French in 1915 and in 1918 was awarded the Royal Red Cross, merely added to the impressiveness of her story. Miss Reay was in London when war was declared. She had resigned her position as a sister in the Melbourne Hospital to accompany her family to London, and was nursing there in August, 1914. She sent in her name immediately to the War Office and to Australia House, and was asked to join a hospital unit composed of Australian nurses and doctors who were in London at the time. The chief surgeon of this unit, which became the Australian Voluntary Hospital, and served as such until the AIF arrived in France, was Dr (now Sir) Douglas Shields. Colonel l’Estrange Jeames [sic], of Sydney, was the commanding officer. The staff also included Dr Mark Gardiner, and the late Dr Horne, of Melbourne, and Dr (now Sir) Alexander McCormick, of Sydney. “Our padre was not an Australian,” Miss Reay said, “but he was one of the most wonderful men I have ever met. He was the Rev Dick Sheppard, of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields. I often think that his attitude to-day toward war had its birth in those first terrible days of the retreat from Mons.” Found Chaos “We arrived at Le Havre in the second week of the war,” Miss Reay said, “to find it in chaos, with refugees pouring in from everywhere. There were rich Americans who ordinarily could have bought anything in the world, but could not then even buy a bed to sleep on. The wounded were beginning to come back from the front. During the day we worked at the British hospital which had been established in the Customs shed on the wharf, and at night we slept on blankets first on the deck of Lord Dunraven’s yacht in the harbour, and then on the floor of the great casino, which was as empty as our Exhibition building is to-day. Finally things became so serious that Le Havre had to be evacuated, and we were sent up to St Lazaire [sic] where we set up our hospital in the most makeshift fashion, with only camp beds for our patients, and practically no equipment of any sort. It was practically impossible to get any supplies through. There we nursed the men from Mons. In December we went up to Vimereux [sic] where the hospital remained until the first regular units came from Australia, when the voluntary hospital was absorbed by the British and became No. 32 stationary hospital. I happened to be doing operating theatre work at the time and was kept on as a theatre sister, being transferred to the Queen Alexandra Nursing Service. Three months afterwards I began to be moved about, and I seemed to go all over France to casualty clearing stations, doing theatre work all the time.” Miss Reay was with the 5th Army at the time of the retreat from Amiens. She was at an advanced operating centre, which consisted of only four sisters and two doctors, very close to the actual fighting, and right in the line of the retreat. That experience, she says, was indescribable. “We were so near the line that we were ordered always to have our gas masks and helmets with us even at meals, and when we got our few snatches of sleep. We were warned beforehand when the big bombardment was to begin, but the sisters were not to be worried! The Germans got in first, however, and from the time the bombardment began at 10 o’clock at night until 9 o’clock the next morning it never ceased. It was like the most terrific storm with incessant thunder and lightning.” Most Terrifying Night “The great guns were in the woods around us, and we could see the tongues of flame bursting from them until the air seemed quivering with light,” she said. “It was the most terrifying night I have ever experienced.” “And then the retreat began,” Miss Reay said. “It was much more terrible than Mons, because we felt that after four years it should not have been possible for it to happen.” She told of the evacuation of the wounded from the casualty station and of the horrifying congestion at Noyen, with refugees and wounded crowding in, and not sufficient staff to cope with them. The trains were needed to bring up fresh recruits and ammunition, and everything else was at a standstill. Everyone in the operating unit lost all they possessed except the uniforms they were wearing. “We had not even an extra handkerchief,” Miss Reay said. “After four days and nights, without sleep, without change of clothes, without even being able to wash our faces, we finally arrived at Etaples where I slept for 36 hours on end.” After going to London for re-equipment Miss Reay went back to France and was transferred to casualty clearing stations with the 3rd Army, and was with them in the sector near Mons when the Armistice was signed. It seems incredible that it was possible to go through such terrible experiences without a breakdown in health, but after the war the nervous reaction came, and Miss Reay found it impossible to face her professional work again. Eventually the post she now fills became available, and she has built up her work in the factory, with the co-operation of her employers, until it has become one of the most remarkable pieces of industrial welfare work in Australia. The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 8 Sept 1939 (p.7): Army Nurses Meet Returned Army nurses gathered at the clubrooms at Anzac House last night at the invitation of the president of the club (Miss Nan Reay) for an informal at home. Miss Reay received about 150 guests. She wore a gown of black embroidered net over black lace, with bows of black velvet at the neckline and waist. The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 25 Apr 1941 (p.6): ANZAC EVE REUNION Members from other States and from the country were present last night at the reunion held every Anzac eve by the Returned Army Nurses at their clubrooms in Anzac House. Miss Nan Reay, president, welcomed the members and outlined the plans for to-day. Miss Reay will place a wreath at the Shrine at 10.58 this morning, and returned nurses intending to be at the service are asked to be in place at the northern entrance by 10.50. At 11.15 sisters are invited to attend the brief service arranged by the Edith Cavell trustees at the memorial in St Kilda rd. In the afternoon cars will leave Flinders st., east of Swanston st., at 1. On Sunday an Anzac service will be held at the Brunswick Town Hall at 2 and all nurses are invited to attend. Miss Reay reminded members that an opportunity shop to raise funds for their branch of the Australian Comforts Fund would be opened in the city shortly, and asked for contributions. She said that anything for wear would be acceptable – frocks, jumpers, ore evening frocks. When the Returned Army Nurses conducted an opportunity shop recently in the Block £125 was taken in a week. The Argus (Melb, Vic), Sat 7 Jun 1941 (p.4): WAR WEAPONS FROM WOMEN Army Nurses’ Appeal TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS Sir, - The Returned Army Nurses’ Club calls upon its members and friends to support an appeal for “war weapons from women.” The news from our fighting fronts demonstrates very vividly the urgent and imperative need for more war machines to support our gallant courageous defenders. Subscriptions will be paid to the Commonwealth Government for the purchase of war weapons. We beg that women throughout Victoria will help. The RANC will hold an extra-ordinary general meeting in the clubrooms on Tuesday at 8 p.m. to launch the appeal. – Yours, &c., NAN REAY, President Returned Army Nurses’ Club, Anzac House The Argus (Melb, Vic), Sat 20 Nov 1948 (p.9): The Life of Melbourne Mark of honour to Miss Nan Reay, RRC, in the naming and endowment of a bed at Prince Henry’s Hospital, to commemorate the work done by her for the hospital. While casualty officer at a large industrial establishment Miss Reay organised a successful auxiliary for Prince Henry’s. Notes: Honours and Awards - C V Reay Rank: Nurse Unit: AVH Service: British Army Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918 Award: Mention in despatches Date of Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: 6 April 1916 Location in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: Page 859, position 24 Date of London Gazette: 1 January 1916 Location in London Gazette: Page 73, position 6 Honours and Awards - Anne Victoria Reay Rank: Acting Sister Unit: Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve Service: British Army Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918 Award: Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) Date of Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: 18 April 1918 Location in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: Page 848, position 2 Date of London Gazette: 1 January 1918 Location in London Gazette: Page 57, position 1