• Martha Burns

  • 1914 Star
  • Born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

    Sunday, 27 April 1873

  • Passed away in Brisbane (aged 86 years)

    Thursday, 5 March 1959

Stories and comments
    • BURNS, Martha (L.D.Q.) – Nurse and Dentist, AVH
    • Posted by FrevFord, Wednesday, 2 November 2016

    Born on the 27th April 1873 in Brisbane, Qld – daughter of (Capt) Charles Douglas BURNS and Mary Wells FYFE – who married 21/7/1856 Sydney, NSW Charles, late Marine Engineer for the Harbours and Rivers Department (Qld Govt), died on the 22/6/1905 at his home Hope Mansel, New Farm, Qld, aged 76 Mary also died at Hope Mansel, on the 15/6/1924, aged 86 Siblings: Mary C. b.1863 NSW; Elizabeth b.1865 Qld; John b.1867; Isabella b.1868; Jessie Clark b.1869 – marr John Mowbray 26/6/1907 Qld (of New Farm); Florence b.1871; Charles b.1878 Trained as a nurse at Brisbane General Hospital (3+ years) 1896 – 1900 Served 3 years with Messrs Dods and McLeod, dentists Studied to be a Dentist at the Australian College of Dentistry, Melbourne – qualifying 1907 Started her own Dental Practice in the AMP Building, Brisbane, Qld in 1907 Volunteered her services as honorary dentist to the Alexandra Home for Children in Oct 1910 President of the Brisbane Women’s Club 1913 Having left Australia in March 1914 for England, as a delegate to the International Dental Congress, she was in London when war broke out WW1: She joined the Australian Voluntary Hospital (AVH) as a Nursing Sister and Dental Surgeon on the 20/8/1914, and crossed to France with the other nurses on Lord Dunraven’s yacht Greta on the 29/8/1914. Served at Havre, St Nazaire, and Wimereux until 1/12/1914, by which time her health had broken down Certificate from Lt Col W.L. Eames, O.C., AVH, Boulogne, dated 1st December 1914: “Sister Martha Burns has served with the Australian Voluntary Hospital from August 20th till the present date. I have much pleasure in stating that she has rendered excellent service as a nurse and it is with great regret that I am obliged to send her away in consequence of the inclemency of the weather here in winter, which renders her unfit for service.” MT1487/1 file: http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/904121 She returned to Australia, via America and New Zealand, having embarked at Liverpool 16/12/1914 on the Lusitania for New York Back home in 1915 she did Red Cross work, and returned to Private Practice until 1932 Sought Repat benefits 1931 *Leader of the New Farm branch of the Women’s Emergency Corps in 1919 *Foundation member and President from 1921 to 1938 of the Queensland Blinded Soldiers’ Association *Foundation member of the Queensland Lyceum Club *Red Cross committee *Vice President of the Queensland branch of the Reserve Voluntary Detachment 1939 “For many years [she] represented the Voluntary Aids on the executive of the Red Cross, and she was chairman of the joint council of Red Cross representatives and the Defence Department.” Residing at the Iona Convalescent Home, Herston, Qld 1954 Died on the 5th March 1959 in Brisbane, Qld, age 86 The Brisbane Courier, Thur 31 Jan 1907: PERSONAL People are used now to the lady doctor, and they appreciate her. That, no doubt, will be the position of the lady dentist before very long. There are six or seven of them in practice in Sydney, and about the same number in Melbourne. The first lady in Brisbane to qualify by taking the L.D.Q. degree is Miss Martha Burns, who has commenced the practice of her profession in well-appointed and very conveniently-situated rooms in the A.M.P. Building. Miss Burns, who is a daughter of the late Captain Burns, for many years Engineer for Harbours and Rivers, has had a rather unique training. Taking up nursing first, she was for three years and eight months in the Brisbane General Hospital, and obtained the certificate of the Nursing school. She then served for three years with Messrs Dods and McLeod, dentists, and then proceeded to Melbourne to study at the Australian College of Dentistry, which is affiliated with the Melbourne University. While there she attended the University lectures on materia medica, therapeutics, pathology, and bacteriology, and studied dental surgery and the practice of dentistry at the college. The superintendent of the latter institution being a L.D.S. (Eng), and the demonstrators being holders of English and American degrees, she had the best opportunities of mastering the scientific and practical details of her profession. Returning to Queensland at the end of her fourth year of study, she passed the examination required by the Queensland Dental Board, and became duly registered. Her rooms are equipped with all the latest appliances and apparatus, and everything has been arranged to insure asceptic conditions. A feature will be painless operations secured by the application of local anaesthetics. The appliances for both surgical and mechanical work are of the most up-to-date character. The Brisbane Courier, Sat 29 Nov 1913: BRISBANE WOMEN’S CLUB The sixth annual meeting of the Brisbane Women’s Club was held in the City Buildings on Thursday night. Miss Martha Burns, L.D.Q. (president), occupied the chair, ………………… The members joined with Mrs Cliffe Mackie in wishing Miss Martha Burns a pleasant journey and a safe return from the travels she was contemplating. The Queenslander, Sat 10 Oct 1914: A message was received last week from Miss Martha Burns, L.D.Q., that she had offered her services as a nurse for the front, and it will be further interest this week to know from an interesting letter received from her how our Queenslander came to be included. Miss Burns went to London to attend a dental conference there, but, notwithstanding that there were delegates from many countries attending, the heart was taken out of it by the declaration of war. Miss Burns went with the crowd to Buckingham Palace, where the King, Queen, and Prince of Wales faced the people from a balcony, and the King attempted to speak. War had just been proclaimed, and “never shall I forget that moment,” she said, “It was thrilling!” The people stood bareheaded and sang the National Anthem and Rule Britannia, in which I joined until a lump in my throat choked me. Tears were streaming down thousands of cheeks, and mingled with the cheers were sobs of feeling. We next saw a Scottish regiment of one thousand picked men marching 14 deep through the streets to the music of their bagpipes, ready for dispatch to the front. It inspired us all to find our duty, and I thought my nursing qualifications would be of use at this juncture.” Miss Burns offered her services first at the Agent-General’s Office to organize a nursing corps for Queensland, or if required at a Dental Hospital. She remarked that volunteers are now rejected if their teeth were unsound, and sent to the Dental Hospital in London where, after treatment, they would present themselves again for dental and medical examination. She was told that the London dentists were offering their services in large numbers, and was advised to see the High Commissioner, as Lady Dudley was organizing an Australian corps. She found that only a unit of 17 nurses was required and that already there were 100 applications in. When she presented her dental qualification, and her nurse’s certificate showing that she had three and a half years’ training in the Brisbane General Hospital under Dr Jackson, and further mentioned that if they were sending a motor car she could take a wheel of that also, the official examining doctor turned round and said, “Is there anything else you little Queenslander can do? You are the sort we want. Go to the War Office and see about your uniform.” Miss Burns then describes her efforts to get into those sacred precincts, the difficulties at one time appearing insurmountable. However, like most Queenslanders, she got there. Policeman No. 1 asked her business at the edge of the kerbstone, and passed her on to No. 2; No. 2 questioned her from the footpath, No. 3 from the lowest step, No. 4 from the top step, No. 5 from the lobby – each time a little nearer and a little nearer. She was then asked to state her business on a printed paper and wait in the corridor for a reply. Eventually she was handed over to a stately military nurse dressed in a grey alpaca uniform with a white band round the left arm, showing the red cross. She also wore a small grey bonnet. The nurse gave her certain information, but passed her back to the Commonwealth Offices for details. There she met Colonel Lea and Captain Watts, who read the regulations to her for nurses’ outfit – a khaki brown serge, khaki brown bonnet (“Won’t I be a beauty for Brisbane friends to behold?” she underlined), and on duty a scarlet shoulder cape. She was also informed that the pay would be £60 a year, with £8 a year allowance for uniform. Money is pouring in for the Australian Nursing Corps. The King has given horses, and the amount required is almost subscribed. “The Australians in London cannot do enough for me,” she said, “some offering to make warm clothes, others offering to take care of my belongings while at the front. It makes one feel homey to feel the warm-hearted kindness of one’s own folk.” Miss Burns’s letter was dated August 10, and she expected to be under canvas the following week. The Agent-General’s office was pleased with the selection of the Queenslander and proud of her in her khaki uniform. The North Sea is absolutely strewn with mines, she says, and although she speaks at the very beginning of things, she says it is all very dangerous. She sends very warm regards to Queensland friends, and her message to them is “Be of good cheer; our nation’s destiny is in the hands of great men.” The Northern Miner (Charters Towers, Qld), Wed 3 Feb 1915: Nurse Martha Burns, of Brisbane, who has been at the front, has been invalided home on account of a slight affection of the throat, and is returning to Australia this week by way of America. She joined Lady Dudley’s field hospital when it was formed, and was the only nurse who had dental qualifications. In common with the rest of the staff she had an extremely busy time at Boulogne for the first fortnight they were never outside the building. Nurse Burns contemplates stopping about a month at Harvard, the great dental centre of the United States, and then going on by way of Vancouver to Hobart, where she will remain until March. She expects to get back to Queensland in the cool of the season. (NZ) Dominion, Vol 8, Issue 2385, 15 Feb 1915, Page 2: WITH THE AUSTRALIAN HOSPITAL – INTERVIEW WITH A NURSE Many people will remember reading in the newspapers of the Australian Voluntary Hospital, which was raised by Australian money in the early stages of the war for work among the wounded in Europe. Lady Dudley, the wife of a former Governor-General, interested herself in the matter, and so liberally and so quickly did Australians contribute their money that the unit was organized and equipped without unnecessary delay, and was soon at work in France. To meet Miss Burns, who is passing through Wellington on her return to Adelaide, and who worked as a nursing sister and dental surgeon in the hospital from August to December, was to hear much that was intensely interesting. Miss Burns had really gone to England for a rest from her practice, and incidentally to attend a dental conference. The war, however, burst like a thunderbolt upon the world, and all that everyone could think of was; how to play their part in the great catastrophe that had overtaken civilization. Miss Burns was very fortunate in being accepted for work in the Australian unit, and in the four or five months in which she worked in the hospital has surely plumbed the depths of life. The Magic of Chloroform The staff consisted of about twelve doctors, seventeen or eighteen nurses, and about seventy orderlies, etc. Wimereux, [sic – St Nazaire] from which the white cliffs of Dover could be seen, was one of the first stations. There they were quartered in the Golf Hotel [sic – this was later at Wimereux], and a schoolhouse near by was also turned into a hospital. For ten days and nights they were constantly at work as hard as they could go, receiving the wounded, nursing them, and passing them on to the hospital ship. It was only after the tenth day that Miss Burns found a few moments to explore the building they were in, other than the ward she was working in, and her sleeping quarters. Never before, in all her nursing experiences, had she realized the inestimable gift of chloroform. One breath or two and the greatest pain was stilled while bullets were being extracted, shattered bones bound together, and limbs amputated. It was working at high pressure all the time, and the doctors did anything and everything to help, even to washing and undressing the wounded and acting as orderlies when suffering could be sooner alleviated. They were so brave, these wounded men! What they could stand without murmuring was marvelous, and often they would want to know when they would be allowed out to go back to the firing line again. Head wounds were the most frequently met with, received in unguarded moments while in the trenches, and wonderful escapes from wounds that in the ordinary course of events ought to have ended in death were seen again and again. It was often in these cases that Miss Burns’s dental knowledge was invaluable – fractured jaws, pierced cheeks, etc. The greatest grief was caused by the amputations of limbs, and one soldier wept most bitterly when he found that his leg had to be amputated. To console him Miss Burns pointed out an officer, high up in the service, who happened to be within sight, and who was possessed of a wooden leg, and said that he too should have one just as hard to discover as the officer’s. A wealthy lady was told of the case, and the wooden leg was forthcoming almost at once. Wealthy people, not only in England but from all countries, are pouring their money out like water for the alleviation of these sufferers. Indeed, could too much be done for them? From Wimereux [sic – St Nazaire] the Australian Hospital was moved to Havre [sic – this was the first port of call] to relieve the French nurses, and it also spent some little time on Lord Dunraven’s yacht, which, however, was not suitable for a hospital ship. It was also on board the Asturias, the hospital ship which has recently figured in the cables. At Havre, however, the Australians were stationed but a very short time as the authorities considered it to be unsafe, and from there they went to Boulogne. Among the wounded who were brought to them from time to time were quite a number of Germans, and it would have been difficult, with but a few exceptions, to find more grateful patients. Nor were they glad to leave the hospital. Miss Burns herself had seen no cases of atrocities committed by Germans. A Difference of Discipline The Australians were fortunate in being kept very busy, with periods of more or less rush after engagements, for there were some hospitals that had but little to do, while in other places there would be such need of workers. This was owing in a considerable measure to Lady Dudley’s representations to the authorities. Now, however, the War Office has taken over all private units, and turned them into base hospitals, as then they will know exactly what is going on and what is needed. In the English hospitals the military discipline is very strict, and rather a revelation to their compatriots from over the sea, to whom, like all Australians, discipline is looked askance at. Australians, too, had never before been face to face with war in such a capacity, and the training and experience must count for much in the years to come. The uniform worn by the Australian nurses, is of a dark grey, with a very becoming bonnet, quite unlike the ordinary regulation bonnet. A dark grey thick tweed overcoat piped with dark red, and made with a wide turnover red collar, goes with it, and the outdoor hat is of the same dark grey tweed, in a kind of sailor shape. On the left shoulder of the coat are the letters V.H. Australian (Voluntary Australian Hospital). The question of uniform was a burning one when the hospital was being formed. Khaki was mooted, but the colonel in command with some discrimination turned to the matron, “You have some pretty nurses among you. How would they like dark grey?” And dark grey it was. Relays of nurses and doctors will have to be constant, Miss Burns thinks, as the strain of work is terrific, and has in some cases lasted so long. With the Australian Hospital they had been at work till the time she had to leave through a breakdown – that was in December. There will be no lack of offers, as trained nurses in their thousands are craving to do what they can for the men who are giving their lives for the safety of the people at Home. And the same with the doctors, who are performing splendid work. [Correct order: Uk to Havre on Lord Dunraven’s yacht, the Greta – Havre to St Nazaire on the Asturias – St Nazaire to the Golf Hotel at Wimereux (near Boulogne), where they remained] Examiner (Launceston, Tas), Sat 27 Mar 1915: MIDST WOUNDED SOLDIERY AUSTRALIAN VOLUNTEER HOSPITAL ITS GREAT WORK IN FRANCE BRISBANE LADY’S EXPERIENCES AN INTERESTING INTERVIEW The efficiency, equipment, and magnificent work of the Australian Volunteer Hospital in France have been the subject of most laudatory official and newspaper comment, and, in an interesting interview with a Brisbane lady who worked four months amongst Britain’s wounded soldiers, an “Examiner” representative last evening learned something of the labours which have brought such distinction to Australian doctors and nurses. Succeeding a sojourn of some weeks in Hobart, Miss Burns is en route to her home in Brisbane, having traveled via America and New Zealand, on a trip designed to restore health broken down by the exacting and untiring work of months behind the battle lines of Belgium and France. Miss Burns speaks most interestingly of the desperately hard times experienced during the early months of the war. At the outbreak of hostilities she was in London as a delegate to the International Dental Congress, and on the organization of the Australian Volunteer Hospital offered her services, and was attached as nursing sister and dental surgeon. The hospital unit crossed to France about August 18, [sic] and temporarily made its base at Havre – the first dominion hospital at the front. A week was spent there, but the time was approaching when the Germans, after battering their way through Belgium, were threatening Paris. Havre was full of refugees, and the hospital was transferred to Saint Nazaire, on the Asturias, the ship which recently narrowly escaped destruction by a torpedo from a German submarine. One night’s duty had been undertaken in Havre – relief to the British nurses, who were thoroughly worked out. Several weeks were spent at Saint Nazaire, and the hospital was then ordered to Boulogne, where the terribly exacting work continued without abatement. As the weeks went by there was greatly improved organization, succeeding the necessarily rushed arrangements at the beginning, and the hospital accomplished magnificent work chiefly amongst the British wounded. The hospital unit, Miss Burns explained, comprised 18 trained nurses, 70 orderlies (mostly Australian students at the universities), and approximately 12 surgeons. Equipped as a field hospital to nurse 200, the staff was called upon throughout those terrible months to often deal with 500 to 600 cases at a time. To cope with such demands it was found to be expedient to commandeer a private hospital and a state school, and, in addition, the residential tents were of necessity requisitioned. The unit reached Boulogne at dark on a Thursday, and on Saturday treatment was being given 200 patients. The expedition and remarkable efficiency with which preparations were made excited very general admiration and commendation. Then followed a terribly arduous time. The staff entered the Golf Hotel at Wimereux to establish the hospital at night, and ten days elapsed ere the nurses were able to get outside the building, so stupendous was the task facing them. Miss Burns eloquently testified to the courage and self-sacrifice of these Australian women, who day and night worked, until, one after another, they dropped from sheer exhaustion. The doctors laboured days with comparatively little rest, until ultimately some relief was afforded by the duplication of the staff. Miss Burns herself broke down from the strain after four months of incessant work, and was invalided home. Stories of the courage and fortitude of the soldiers suffering from terrible wounds have been numerous, and Miss Burns adds further eloquent testimony as to the spirit behind all this self-sacrifice on the part of Britain’s manhood. The Australian Volunteer Hospital was regarded as the best equipped in France, a fact which would appear to be strikingly borne out by Miss Burns’ statement that the deaths were less than 2 per cent. Such achievement is all the more remarkable when the nature of the wounds is taken into consideration. Some of them, Miss Burns explained, were frightfully injured, and the most serious wounds were the result of shrapnel fire. The wisdom of providing for skilled dental treatment became more and more apparent as the campaign progressed, and the authorities had now made adequate provision for this important branch of hospital work. The Australian people, Miss Burns said, would be comforted to know that British hospitals at the front are magnificently equipped. All the serious wounds are dressed with the patients under an anaesthetic, and one might pass through the rows of beds without hearing a groan. The money so generously contributed by Australia for the equipment of the hospital had been well spent, and it would be consoling to Australian mothers to think that every possible provision would be made for the proper treatment of any of the Commonwealth lads who might be wounded. It had been a remarkable experience for Miss Burns, working within the sound of the guns, and surrounded by the wounded heroes from the firing line. For a considerable period the Australian hospital accomplished its splendid work within 20 miles of the terrible fighting about Ypres, and until the position was clearly defined there were always in readiness motor cars and a train to remove the hospital to safety at an hour’s notice. Miss Burns, who has regained much of her original good health, will cross by the Loongana to-day en route to Brisbane, in the General Hospital of which city she gained so much of the practical knowledge as a nurse and dental surgeon that enabled her to render such valuable service with the Australian Volunteer Hospital. The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld), Fri 30 Apr 1915 (p.5): Social and Personal The Brisbane Women’s Club gave charmingly arranged welcome home to their past president, Miss Martha Burns, L.D.Q., at their rooms, City Buildings, last evening. ………………… http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/177022542 The Queenslander, Sat 1 May 1915 (p.5): THE WEEK IN BRISBANE AND ELSEWHERE Miss Martha Burns, L.D.Q., is the first Queenslander to return from the actual seat of war, and for the honourable share she took of responsibilities she deserves a very warm welcome back to her native State. Her story is an interesting one, and gives us an insight into the great happenings that are really deciding our fate as a nation. ………………………………………………………………………. These orderlies deserve a paragraph to themselves. The majority of them were Australian students in the different universities, some students in law, medicine, divinity, science, arts. All were volunteers, and cheerfully scrubbed floors, cleaned candlesticks, and wanted to do what they called their “little bit for their country.” It must be remembered no one was trained for this war, and each one willingly fitted into the corner where their services were most needed. ……………………………………… http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/22296531 Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and etc….(Qld), Tue 17 Aug 1915 (p.2): WOMEN AND WAR THE PART A NURSE PLAYED (By Diana in the Brisbane “Daily Mail.”) http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/150954013 The Brisbane Courier, Tue 24 Aug 1915: SOLDIERS’ CHURCH OF ENGLAND HELP SOCIETY At the Cathedral Tea on Sunday evening over 100 men were entertained by the following hostesses:- ……………………………………….. Miss Martha Burns spoke interestingly of her experiences at the front in France. ……… The Brisbane Courier, Sat 1 Jul 1916: MEETING AT ROCKLEA A public meeting was held in the Rocklea Hall on Thursday night to consider steps to assist the Patriotic Red Cross Funds. ………………………………………………….. Dr Martha Burns gave an interesting account of her experiences at the Front at the beginning of the war in 1914, and urged the necessity of giving assistance to the Red Cross Fund. …… The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld), Mon 2 Jun 1919 (p.2): NEW FARM LEADER It should be noted that the telephone number of the leader of the Women’s Emergency Corps for New Farm has been changed to 6699. Miss Martha Burns, the leader, asks that all calls between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. may be made to Central 6699, and not the number previously announced. National Leader (Brisbane, Qld), Fri 2 Nov 1917 (p.4): From Near and Far Miss Martha Burns DENTAL SURGEON AND WAR WORKER There are few returned soldiers to whom Dr Martha Burns’s name is not familiar, and her work for the Red Cross, more especially in connection with the new dental ward at the Base, is well known. Miss Burns is also a keen motorist, and her car is always available when excursions are arranged for returned men; so that the reader of this soldiers’ paper will find interest in this little chat which I had with her a short time ago: – “Yes, I have actually thought of giving up my car lately. What with the pressure of work – both professional and war work – I have so little time for motoring,” said Miss Martha Burns, “but when I look at her my heart fails me and I am quite sure that I could not bear to see anyone else driving my beautiful little Coupe. And if I only drive her once a week I am going to keep her.” Beautiful she certainly is, this graceful little American car, with her coloring of green and black, glass, and upholstering in pale grey cloth. It was in her bright rooms at the top of the Kodak Buildings that one found Miss Burns, the clever Australienne who has got so much that is interesting out of life, and in the pleasant little anteroom, which was fragrant with the scent of lilies and clarkia, making a patch of rose pink color in one corner, one drew Miss Burns on to talk of her experiences in the early days of the war. For, try as we will, no other subject is of any interest just now. As a soldier writing from the front truthfully says, “the only …. who are privileged to talk of the war are those who are taking part in it.” Every loyal Britisher is taking his or her part, whether here or in the firing line, but Miss Burns is one of the few Australian women who have actually been in the firing line, or as near as she could get. “Being in England when war broke out, I of course offered my services, and a fortnight later was with Lady Dudley’s Hospital at Havre. There were 100 Australians, 12 surgeons, and 18 nursing sisters, of whom one (myself) was dental surgeon, and another pathologist and bacteriaologist. In those early days there was no rank for women, but Lady Dudley would not enlist any but trained women. We were at Havre on August 14 [sic] when the Germans were supposed to be outside Paris and marching through to England! The town was in a state of panic and was full of Belgian refugees. We went to Wimeriux [sic] then, which was only 20 miles from Ypres, and we could hear the booming of the guns. “Of course,” Miss Burns went on, “I could tell you much, but it has all been told so often. I was four months with the Field Hospital, moving from place to place, and then returned to Australia. The work was very strenuous and nerve-racking.” Miss Burns has, however, continued her work here in Australia, and there are few branches of war work in which she is not interested, though perhaps her special interest centres in the work of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, being a member of the Red Cross sub-committee which controls the work of the V.A.D.’s. Miss Burns is one of the first Brisbane women motorists. “Dr Lilian Cooper and I were the first,” she said, and – with a smile – “that was 11 years ago, in the days when one did not take one’s friends out unless they were good walkers. Now it is very different. One can always be sure of coming home in one’s car.” “Oh, yes, I thoroughly understand the mechanism of a car, and can repair. Although I don’t always do it myself, I can in an emergency. I think my love for all things mechanical, both in my profession and my hobbies, is inherited, for my father was, you know, an engineer, and held the office of engineer for harbours and rivers in Queensland for years.” Then, in answer to a question regarding her training, Miss Burns said that she obtained her degree in Australia, at Melbourne University, though she travelled through America afterwards. “I am proud of my Australian degree, too,” she went on, and then, as one was allowed a glimpse of the workroom, the thought occurred to one that in the new order of things which is surely coming here is the profession of all others for women, for surely in no other are delicacy of touch, care in detail, and other womanly attributes so essential. E.G.H. The Queenslander, Sat 23 Jul 1921: BRISBANE WOMEN’S CLUB The president (Miss Henry) occupied the chair at a well-attended meeting of the Brisbane Women’s Club, held in the club rooms, Courier Building, on July 14. In and interesting paper on the structure and preservation of the teeth, Miss Martha Burns, L.D.Q., emphasized the importance of proper mastication of food before swallowing. Dental decay was unnecessarily prevalent because children were not taught to use their teeth, but were given food which was so soft and savoury that there was no necessity for chewing it. Want of exercise had the same effect upon teeth as upon other organs of the body, and the neglect of mastication not only caused decay in the teeth, but also caused indigestion and dyspepsia. The speaker emphasized the necessity for regulating irregular growth in children’s teeth, and stated that in almost every case of crowded or irregular teeth post-natal growth were present. A vote of thanks was accorded the lecturer at the instance of Mrs Mason-Beatty and Miss Storey. The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA), Tue 23 Aug 1921 (p.2): PERSONAL NEWS Miss Martha Burns, a Brisbane dental surgeon, attending the Congress in Adelaide, has an interesting record of war service. With other delegates from Australia she was attending the Dental Congress held in London in 1914, and on the outbreak of war went on active service with the first Australian Voluntary Hospital, organized by Lady Dudley, as dental surgeon to the unit, which proceeded first to Havre, then, after the retreat from Mons, to St Nazaire, and after the battle of the Marne to Wimereux, outside Boulogne. Miss Burns was invalided home in December 1914, and afterwards did Red Cross work. An article which she contributed to the “Australian Journal of Dentistry,” showing the necessity of dentists being at the front, was one of the first statements written on that subject by anyone who had been on active service, and is believed to have accelerated the formation of the Dental Corps in Australia. Miss Burns, prior to qualifying for her profession, was a student at the Melbourne Dental Hospital and University. For her war services she received the Mons medal. The Daily Mail (Brisbane, Qld), Tue 5 Aug 1924 (p.10): Women’s Realm AN INTERESTING EASTERN TOUR After a delightful tour of China, Japan, the Federated Malay States, and Ceylon, Miss Martha Burns has returned to Brisbane, feeling refreshed in body and mind, and ready to tackle once again the work connected with the numerous organisations and committees with which she is actively associated. Miss Burns, with Miss Crombie (Melbourne) and Dr Helen Rordorff, left Brisbane by the Eastern some four months ago, and the trio thoroughly enjoyed visiting the various ports on the trip to Japan – Townsville, Cairns, Thursday Island, Sandakan (where they received their introduction to the beautiful roads of the Far East), Manila and beautiful Hong-Kong. On reaching Japan the tourists spent few days in the busy port of Kobe, after which they went on to desolate Yokohama and Tokio (where the great damage caused by the earthquake of last September is gradually being righted. ……………………………………………. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/219059067 The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld), Thur 20 Mar 1930 (p.14): Club At Home …………………………………….. An address on “The Care and Development of the Teeth” was given by Miss Martha Burns, …………………………………………… http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/184161841 The Australian Women’s Weekly, Sat 16 Dec 1939 (p.55): Served in France as dental surgeon http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/51271563 The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld), Wed 5 May 1954 (p.14): She became our first woman dentist [photo] Fifty-one years ago a young Brisbane woman shrugged aside the conventions of her day to become a dentist. When she laughs now about the horrified protests of her family, her eyes disappear behind a hundred wrinkles. The “rebel” is Martha Burns, a gentle, grey-haired woman of 81, who passes her days sitting quietly in the lulling autumn sun – with a book on dentistry in her lap. Her home is now the Iona Convalescent Home, Herston. Although she had been taught the violin as a school-girl, Martha Burns, in her own words, “had no intention of becoming a lady, driving out in the buggy visiting and taking tea.” So she became a nurse, training at the Brisbane Hospital from 1896 to 1900. Disregarded restrictions By then her two elder sisters had been launched into society. According to the custom of the day, they “came out” at private balls, held in the drawing room of the family home at New Farm, and against a romantic and gracious background of string music. “There just didn’t seem to be a niche for me at all,” said Miss Burns yesterday. So she sided with her brother, played whist and tennis, galloped and jumped her horse, and in 1907 – the year she graduated as a dentist – she completed her disregard for hidebound feminine restrictions by buying a car. It was a chain-driven, one-cylinder, seven horse-power Oldsmobile which she drove furiously up and down the street at 16 mph. Both built “bridges” Martha Burns’ career as a dental student began with an argument with her Scottish engineer father “that no daughter of mine will work at such a thing as dentistry.” “But,” she pointed out logically to her father, “we would both be building bridges.” In the end, she got her way. Her dental studies were paved with frustrations – because she was a woman. At the end of three years’ study – the Queensland Dental Board appointed lecturers through the Sydney University Extension scheme – the board refused to register her. Head high, she went to Sydney University, “where the Dean also didn’t like women.” She went on to Melbourne where there were already women students, and where she was able to do another year’s study. “By then it was such a serious business – I just couldn’t fail,” she said. She returned to Brisbane, where she “had great difficulty with the board.” But they finally created a special examination for her. Was in the Mons retreat And so she became the first woman to get a Queensland diploma. Her name-plate went up as a private dentist in 1907. In 1914, she went to an international dental conference in London, and she was there when World War 1 started. She immediately joined the staff of the Australian Voluntary Hospital and went to France. She was in the retreat from Mons – “which makes me an unofficial Old Contemptible,” she said. On being invalided home in 1915, she returned to private practice (where she remained until 1932), and threw herself into Red Cross work. Years later she was one of the recipients in the first issue of the Red Cross long-service medals. She was a foundation member, and president from 1921 to 1938 of the Queensland Blinded Soldiers’ Association. Rewards for charity work For her charity work she was awarded a Jubilee and a Coronation medal. She was also one of the foundation members of the Lyceum Club in Queensland. Miss Burns calls herself a feminist, but here is her “footnote to feminists”: “I realise now that my mother was right – and that marriage, a home and family are the most important things a girl can have. “All daughters should be taught housekeeping. Even five-year-olds should never be ‘in the way’ in the kitchen, for that is when they start to learn. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/50604545