• Mary Hungerford

  • Foreign award/Other
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
Stories and comments
    • HUNGERFORD, Mary Catherine (Molly) – FRC (Bluebird)
    • Posted by FrevFord, Friday, 17 March 2017

    Born on the 25th of April 1875 at Pokolbin, NSW – daughter of Emanuel Becher HUNGERFORD and his 2nd wife Ellen Henrietta BLICK – who married on the 2/9/1872 in NSW Emanuel’s 1st wife [Frances Elizabeth BLICK] died in 1871, leaving him with 4 young children – he died 26/11/1917 Ellen died 30/5/1922 at Sydney, aged 70 Half-siblings: Annie Sarah b.1863 – d.1950; John Becher b.1864 – d.23/7/1914; William Penn Blick b.1866 – d.1950; Ada Frances b.1868 – d.10/12/1921 Siblings: Henry b.1873; Stephen Moore b.1877; Percy Wynder b.1879; Frances Elizabeth b.&d.1881; George Penn L b.1882 – d.1960; Emanuel W b.1886; Rachel Elizabeth b.1886 – d.1974 (typist); Beatrice H b.1889; *Hubert Reginald b.1891 Greta – WW1: Pte 5351, 18th Bn; 1915-17 – d.1967 Newtown Francis E b.1893; Trained in nursing at the Children’s Hospital, Sydney, Mar 1902 – Mar 1905 Registered with the Australian Trained Nurses Association on the 9/8/1905 (23 Wiley St, Waverley, Sydney) 1903-4 she was living at 156 Glebe Rd, The Glebe Received her appointment as a Nurse with the NSW Department of Public Health, in Baby Health Centres on the 15/2/1915 She was Head of the Baby Clinic at Glebe in 1916 – which was opened in February 1915 WW1: One of twenty nurses selected by the Red Cross Society of NSW to be sent overseas to serve in French hospitals, under the auspices of the British Committee of the French Red Cross, and funded by the Australian Jockey Club. Issued with distinctive blue uniforms, this group of nurses became known as the Bluebirds, and each was also presented with a leather kit bag by the French-Australian League. Embarking in Sydney on the 4th of July 1916 on the Hospital Ship Kanowna, they were accompanied on the voyage by French teacher Josephine Niau, who with daily lessons, was to improve their knowledge of the French language with emphasis on medical terms. Sailing via Egypt where they had the opportunity to visit the highlights of Cairo, followed by a brief stop at Malta, they arrived at Southampton on the 26th of August, and were met by a Red Cross representative. At the French Red Cross headquarters in London, after some delay, they were allocated to their hospitals: “Eventually we went across in two’s and three’s to Anglo-French Hospitals. This idea worked well, it gave us an opportunity to improve our French, and to get accustomed to French people. After working in these hospitals a few months, quite a number of us preferred to join up with the French military, and so get nearer the front, …..” Mary, together with Olive Norman had first been sent to a hospital in Limoges, south of Paris, where Mary served as Matron. She then joined an ambulance unit (Longueil-Annel unit) closer to the front, where, in her words: “the work during an attack was so heavy that at times we have been on duty 20 to 36 hours without stopping, then feeling too tired to sleep, we possibly would be obliged to sit up all or part of the night, as the Germans were dropping bombs around our ambulances.” Towards the end of 1918, and as it turned out, the close of the war, after two years of strenuous service, Mary, together with Sisters Duffy, Wallace, Hough and Loxton, decided it was time to return home. Arriving back in London on Armistice Day, the 11th of November 1918, they stayed at Queen Mary’s Hostel whilst waiting for their return transport, hoping “earnestly for a non-working and comfortable passage”. They were instead allocated to the family ship Zealandia, receiving free passage in return for the care of the wives and babies of the soldiers. They embarked at Liverpool on the 26/11/1918, and although tiredness plagued them, they found help in their work from many quarters on the voyage, and arrived back in Sydney on the 10/1/1919 knowing that their presence had saved many young lives. Post war: *Matron with the NSW Government Printing Office, Colonial Treasurer’s Dept from the 4/3/1919 *Reappointed 5/8/1924 as a Nurse with NSW Baby Health Centres, Dept of Public Health *Application approved by the Nurses Registration Board 1/9/1927 She was in charge of the Baby Clinic at Goulburn late 1920’s – resigned in Apr 1935 Electoral Rolls: 1930 ER: Mary Catherine Hungerford – 23 Beppo St, Goulburn – trained nurse 1936 ER: 68 Cremorne Rd, Neutral Bay – nurse (with Rachel Elizabeth – typist) 1943, 1949 ER: 44 Calypso Ave, Mosman – nurse 1954, 1958 ER: 2 Keston Ave, Mosman – home duties 1963 ER: 67 Coogee Bay Rd, Coogee – h.d. Died on the 2nd of July 1963 at Hospital, Coogee, NSW, age 89 Privately cremated NSW RED CROSS RECORD, Feb 1, 1919 (p.45): From French Poilus to Anzac Wives and Mothers By M.C.H. (One of the Red Cross Nurses sent to help France) I fear I shall tire you with the length of my letter. When you asked me to give you a synopsis of our work in France and on this transport “Zealandia,” both of which have been so interesting, I feel I could write on forever. Of course, you know how and why 20 trained nurses and one masseuse went to France to nurse the French. Our New South Wales Red Cross gave us to the French Red Cross and the Jockey Club decided to pay our expenses. On our arrival in London we were delayed a little time, we were too many to place all at once. Eventually we went across in two’s and three’s to Anglo-French Hospitals. This idea worked well, it gave us an opportunity to improve our French, and to get accustomed to French people. After working in these hospitals a few months, quite a number of us preferred to join up with the French military, and so get nearer the front, and in so doing, have had excellent work as well as the opportunity of working with the cleverest French surgeons. Of course, the hardships and privations have been very trying, for not only was our food rationed with great economy, but the bread had to be ten days old before we could get it, and the half pound of sugar weekly was not sufficient, as we had not sweets in any other shape. Butter we rarely saw, and I have paid eight francs a pound for it, and found on receiving it that I had only obtained margarine, and it very old and bad. Then the work during an attack was so heavy that at times we have been on duty 20 to 36 hours without stopping, then feeling too tired to sleep, we possibly would be obliged to sit up all or part of the night, as the Germans were dropping bombs around our ambulances. Three of our Sisters, with me now, have had the experience of having their ambulances bombed and their fellow workers killed. My very worst experience I consider was being a night sister in our equip. for officers only and 150 beds, more often 200 more or less patients, and not another woman on duty, just French soldiers to help me. Doctors operating day and night, new patients arriving, and very often hemorrhages to have immediate attention. Every patient had to pass the X Ray, as this is the French custom before operation, and all the time the bombing going on. Thinking of it now, I wonder how we lived on through it, but we know we were very fortunate to have this experience. In my ambulance we were five trained sisters and one French V.A.D., but we had a wonderful surgeon, a Frenchman, renowned for his daring and skill. For instance, in three months out of 975 patients we had only 32 deaths, and the work sent to this surgeon was always the heaviest. At last, after two years’ strenuous work, five of us Sisters Loxton, Hough, Duffy, Wallace, and myself decided to return to Australia. We hoped earnestly for a non-working and comfortable passage. It is difficult to describe to you our dismay on arrival in England en route to Australia, when we found that another invalid nurse and myself had to work our passage home, and not to work for and with our soldiers, but with the wives and babies of our soldiers. When our Commissioner in London told us this first we could not realise it, and hoped that Miss Conyers would alter her mind when she saw our tired faces, but “not any luck” seemed to be our motto. We boarded the transport “Zealandia” on 26th November at Liverpool. On board we had some 300 odd women and 120 children, a few Anzacs, about 37, two military officers, and two doctors, five of us, and one military sister in charge, who also seemed to be very tired. Of course, the first thing we thought of was how to prevent illness amongst so many babies living under such conditions. The S.M.O. seemed to be trying to arrange some method, and asked me if I would organise some method, as I had been in charge of a clinic in Sydney, and finally on 28th November I formed a clinic. The S.M.O. posted notices round the boat to the effect that all sick babies and mothers and bottle-fed babes would be seen daily in “D” Section. With Dr McIntyre in attendance, this went on twice a day. We had very many cases of ill nourishment, acute indigestion, gastric enteritis, and bronchitis running high temperatures. The feeding was our greatest trouble, as we could not give fresh food. We made Benger’s twice a day on a Primus stove in the dispensary, and the result was wonderful. After the babies were in bed in the evenings we used to visit the mothers in their bunks, and if they were ill take the S.M.O. or Major Hagan to see them. We had a small hospital, two wards of 22 beds, with a small theatre. Here Misses Hough, Duffy, and Wallace worked daily with the very sick babies, mothers, and casualties. Of these latter we seemed to have a heavy list. Things went very smoothly until Port Said. My first day off duty, how I enjoyed it, just doing nothing until I was informed that one of the babies had to be taken ashore at once, it would need an operation – intussusception. Miss Loxton was relieving me, and she took it across with the S.M.O., accompanying her to No.14 A.G.H. While they were away Miss Creal came on board to see us, and brought some of the sisters. It was so nice to see them. Miss Creal was so kind to us all, she asked the O.C. to arrange, if possible, for us to go to the hospital in the morning. We were accordingly permitted to do so, and it is impossible to tell you how we enjoyed ourselves. We had morning tea with Miss Creal and Sister Crawford, saw our baby and its mother. The latter seemed very distressed at being left behind, but as her baby was progressing well, we felt sure she would soon be following after. I think she felt happier after having our S.M.O.’s opinion. On returning to the ship we found all sorts of useful and nice things had been sent on by the Red Cross from Port Said, even to another Primus. Miss Creal had thought of everything we might need. If it had not been for her we should not have had an opportunity of leaving the boat. Orders were that no one was to go ashore. Very wise orders indeed, considering we were free from infectious trouble, and were not anxious to go into quarantine. Five days out from Port Said, Miss Loxton relieved me at my work for one week, and that was a restful time. After that we worked it in turns. We were fortunate in having very little night duty. We were very fortunate also in our officers – they were all so very kind and helpful. Our doctors tried to make the work as light as possible, and our O.C. maintained order in such a happy manner that no one realised the fact that there was anything to keep in order, but the sisters knew just everything that happened, and could not help admiring his promptness in dealing with difficulties. There seemed to be a fine class of Anzacs on board that gave services willingly to the O.C., so everything went smoothly. Our captain, too, never permitted looseness of behaviour, and he and his officers were always ready to help us. The chief steward was also of the greatest help. When making the Benger’s food became too heavy a duty for Sister Loxton to continue, he got a chef to make it twice daily after we had instructed him. In every way we were aided in our work. One thing that I often smile over now, was the erection of a steam tent for a very bad case of bronchitis. The first mate secured flat pieces of wood and nailed them to the four legs of the bunk and fixed the blankets. Then the S.M.O. came and asked me what we should do, sister had no kettle, the nearest thing I could find was a watering can. I called on the Chief Engineer, and in a couple of hours a very fine kettle appeared, with a long tin nozzle, and so we steamed our baby. I could give you dozens of instances, especially of how we used to have bottles found and brought to us, careless mothers leaving them dirty round the deck, and the men knew one of our principal injunctions for the mothers was to bring the bottles daily for sterilization. I must say, although I was so tired and suffered from insomnia, I loved those babies, and they were a blessing in disguise, and we only lost one, two days out from Melbourne. It is admitted that the presence of our five Red Cross Sisters in this boat saved many little lives. Three of them were among our most skilful children’s nurses before leaving for active duty in France. Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW), Thur 26 Apr 1934 (p.2): ANZAC DINNER ……………………………. Following are those who were present: Nursing Service: …………., Sister M.C. Hungerford, A.R.C. (French Service Decoration); ………………… Sydney Morning Herald, Jul 09 1963 (p.26): DEATHS HUNGERFORD, Sister Mary Catherine (Molly) – July 2, 1963, returned nurse World War 1, sister of Beatrice, Elizabeth and Reg. Privately cremated Notes: There is no record of her being in the QAIMNSR