• Leah Rosenthal

  • 1914–1915 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) (ARRC)
Stories and comments
    • ROSENTHAL, Leah – ARRC, Sister, QAIMNSR
    • Posted by FrevFord, Sunday, 12 April 2015

    Leah was born in 1879 in Melbourne, the daughter of Joseph (Jacob) ROSENTHAL and Martha (Marcha Oken) AVINSKI, who married in Qld on the 14/6/1873. Joseph, a furniture dealer, died on the 17/12/1884 Melbourne, aged 43. Martha’s addresses during the war years: Airlie, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne / 47 Dickens St, St Kilda Martha died in 1946 Sth Melbourne, aged 95. Siblings: Fanny Berlina (Pearl) b.1/5/1874 Qld – d.1925, age 51; Jacob (Jack) b.27/6/1875 Qld (Dr) – Marr Sarah A Whitehead 1898 – WW1: Lieut, RAMC (France 14/11/1915 – RTA 1916) – d.28/8/1936 Elwood, age 62; Henry Norman b.c1878 – d.1966 Vic, age 88; Samuel b.1881 Melb – marr Alison – WW1: Lieut, 5th Bn – KIA 25/9/1917 Belgium; Amelia b.1882 Melb (Milly, Mrs Frank H. Nunn) – d.1949, age 66; Myer b.1884 Melb. Trained at the Alfred Hospital (as did Bella Jobson) 1903 ER: Commercial Rd, Sth Yarra – nurse 1914 ER: Windarra, 262 Williams Rd, Toorak – trained nurse (see also Isabella Jobson) Together with Belle Jobson, she took over the running of Windarra Private Hospital towards the end of 1910, and they continued there until enlisting in 1915. WW1: In 1915 the British War Office called for Australian nurses to be sent to join Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR). Leah and Isabella were among the group being sent to England in the December, and they embarked in Melbourne on the hospital ship Karoola on the 18th of December 1915. Following the embarkation on the 24th of more nurses from Western Australia, the total of this QAIMNSR contingent grew to 43. The HS Karoola took her passengers, many of whom succumbed to seasickness on the journey, as far as Egypt where they disembarked at Suez and were taken on to Cairo in a hospital train. After a week during which the nurses enjoyed the sights, they embarked in Alexandria on 28th January 1916 on the HS Nevassa which took them to Naples. At Naples they joined the HS Britannic which was collecting sick and wounded soldiers being brought from the Gallipoli Campaign to be transported to England. Although the Britannic had been built as a luxurious passenger liner, she had only just been hastily refitted as a hospital ship and was still very unfinished and rough for this purpose. Once on board Leah and her fellow nurses were put on duty until their arrival at Southampton on the 9th of February. Upon disembarkation at Southampton the group was split up and divided between five war hospitals: ten each to the 1st and 2nd Birmingham War Hospitals, ten to the Wharncliffe War Hospital at Sheffield, eight to the Lord Derby War Hospital at Warrington, and five to the Bagthorpe Military Hospital in Nottingham; Leah and Isabella being amongst these five. Having been sent by train to their destination they were placed on duty the following day of the 10th of February. As time passed the nurses began to fear that they wouldn’t be sent to France as they had been led to believe, and as a group they petitioned the Australian High Commissioner in London with their concerns. Leah underwent a medical examination on the 11th of March and was found quite healthy. Finally it was arranged for them to go and they were sent to London where they received their postings to hospitals in France. Leah and Isabella together with Violet Hill were posted to the 13th Stationary Hospital in Boulogne, and arrived for duty on the 5th of April. Leah was admitted to hospital on the 29th of September before being discharged to the Convalescent home for nurses at Hardelot on the 17th of October. Being fully recovered she was then transferred to the Nurses Home at Abbeville on the 25th of October. Two days later she was instructed to relieve another nurse (Miss Keene) at the Abbeville YMCA Ladies House, who had been attending to a YMCA lady seriously ill with suspected influenza or cerebro-spinal meningitis. Unfortunately the lady died on the 28th of October and both Nurse Keene and Leah received orders to proceed at once to the 16th General Hospital, where they were to be isolated until free from any possible infection. Leah was eventually discharged on the 17th of November. Meanwhile Isabella had been posted to the 16th GH for duty from the 3rd to the 16th of November, so it’s highly possible that she had requested the posting to be close to Leah. On the 2nd of December Leah and Isabella were then posted to the 33rd Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) which had been established in the College Saint Vaast at Bethune. During an enemy bombardment on the 23rd, a shell exploding just outside the hospital gates broke most of the windows on that side of the hospital, and all patients were evacuated to the cellars. The CCS was visited by the Matron-in-Chief, Maud McCarthy on the 3rd of January 1917 and she noted that: “The nursing staff now have a certain number of rooms in the building where some of the Sisters are accommodated, and the rest live in a house which was occupied by them before the recent bombardment. I saw the OC who expressed himself satisfied with the whole of the staff, …….” Bethune was shelled again on the 7th of January with many falling close to the hospital, requiring all patients to be once again evacuated to the cellars. This became a common occurrence over the following months, with one ward being hit by shell fragments and more windows broken on the 1st of May. Leah was granted Leave from the 8th to the 16th of March, and Isabella went on Leave following her return. They were again granted Leave in the September; this time Leah followed Isabella, from the 6th to the 14th. Isabella then departed with a Surgical Team for temporary duty at the 19th CCS from the 18th to the 30th of November. Both nurses were then transferred to the Nurses Home at Abbeville on the 12th of December 1917. To 24 Gen Hosp 3/1/18 – to ?, Etaples 5/1/18 – to 26 Gen Hosp 19/1/18 To 54 CCS 17/3/18 – to 6 CCS 24/3/18 – to 4 Can CCS 16/4/18 – to 33 CCS 10/6/18 Leave 18/7/18 – 1/8/18 To 12 Stationary Hosp 21/9/18 To 33 CCS 25/9/18 – to 30 CCS 27/10/18 – to 33 CCS 5/11/18 To 4 Stationary Hosp 25/11/18 3 weeks UK Leave 19/1/19 – 9/2/19 Then to be posted to Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley 9/2/1919 for temporary duty pending passage to Australia – but did not join – classed as leave without pay Returned to Australia on St Albans, embarking 3/4/1919 and arriving Melbourne 21/5/1919 – service terminated 9/5/1919 Sister in Charge, C.E. Crawford, 33 CCS 26/11/18: Miss Rosenthal rejoined this unit 10/6/18. She had charge of the acute medical ward when we first opened. I have always found her very cheerful and willing. She kept her ward very well. When the CCS opened for surgical cases Miss Rosenthal was attached to the Surgeon Specialists Team as an “anaesthetist”. The Surgeon Specialist speaks very highly of her work and considers her very capable and ? for her work as an anaesthetist. I consider her very suitable for work in a CCS. Confidential Report – 21/12/18, A/Matron Forrest, 4 Stat Hosp: Sister Leah Rosenthal QAIMNSR is a capable nurse – thoroughly reliable & conscientious both in the nursing of her patients & the management of her ward & work. She is an experienced & trained anaesthetist. From Leah’s letter of resignation 27/11/1918: My reasons for tendering my resignation are urgent private & financial affairs in Australia which have become complicated during my prolonged absence, having left Australia on Dec 17th 1915. My financial & business interests are vested in a private hospital of which I am joint partner with Miss I.K. Jobson. Any further continued absence will I fear entail serious loss. Conducted Vimy House Private Hospital in partnership with Belle Jobson, from Aug 1920, until her death in 1930, at which time Belle continued on her own. Died on the 4th of October 1930 Buried in the Brighton Cemetery 6/10/1930 Alfred Hospital Nurses’ League: 1931: Miss Jobson, the lifelong friend of Miss Rosenthal, presented a prize to be known as the Leah Rosenthal memorial 1934: The Leah Rosenthal prize for the best theatre nurse for the year Stonnington History News, Newsletter No.62, Feb-Mar 2006: Hospitals for Rich and Poor ………………………………………………………………………… ‘Windarra’ was established by Florence McDowell and Miss Lock in 1910 in a 10-roomed brick house at 274 Williams Road, Toorak, which belonged to the Methodist Church. Florence left for Europe later in the year and two Alfred graduates, Leah Rosenthal and her friend, Sister Isabel Jobson took over. Then they both left to serve in World War 1 and Sister Edith Tait carried on until the 1940s. ……………………………………………….. Jewish Herald (Vic), Fri 30 Nov 1917 (p.8): NURSE LEAH ROSENTHAL [including photo] Sister Leah Rosenthal (sister of Lieutenant Samuel Rosenthal, who was killed in action at Polygon Wood on 25th August), left Melbourne two years ago for London, having joined the British Nursing Staff, and is now one of the Queen Alexandra nurses. She has been seventeen months at a Casualty Clearing Station, and latterly in a hospital which has often been bombarded. Her family this week received a quantity of war trophies of used shot and shell, amongst which was a very heavy piece of shell which she labelled – “Piece of shell that hit this hospital, and wrecked the church.” Amongst them also was the cap of a bomb which fell within three yards of her, in the hospital compound. Sister Rosenthal is on of the five nurses retained at this most dangerous spot, the patients and rest of the staff being removed to a safer place. She also mentions in her letters how she wears a gas mask on her shoulders in case of emergency when crossing the hospital compound. She and Miss Jobson, who ran Windarra Hospital, Williams-road, Toorak, have never been separated since they left Melbourne, and both speak of the honour of being retained in that most dangerous spot, where they are at present in France. Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark, SA), Fri 14 Jun 1918 (p.6): AUSTRALIAN NURSES DECORATED In the Melbourne Herald of May 21, there is a rather pretty story of the friendship of two Australian nurses who left this country two and a half years ago in a nursing unit for the front. These two ladies had struck up a friendship as probationers in a Melbourne Hospital and subsequently took a private hospital in Toorak. They left Australia together and have not been separated since. They were both recommended for honours by their commanding officer and matron for heroic conduct under fire at a casualty clearing station, but only one was decorated. They worked together for a year at one casualty clearing station which was shelled frequently and were among the first Australian nurses to be entrusted with the administration of anaesthetics. They were chosen, amongst others from hundreds of nurses from all over the British Empire after a short course in this branch of the work. The nurse – or sister as the soldiers always know them – who received the Royal Red Cross decoration was Miss Jobson, and her bosom friend is Miss Leah Rosenthal, sister of Mr M Rosenthal of Renmark. On the authority of The Bulletin and another paper we learn that sister Rosenthal has since been recommended again for decoration and now wears both the Military Medal and the Royal Red Cross decoration. In a letter home she speaks of portion of a shell falling near her, but her friend informs the family that pieces of a shell actually passed through her dress without wounding her. Sister Rosenthal has sent some of that shell home. No one rejoices more to hear of honors being conferred upon our nursing sisters than returned soldiers who know from personal experience their courage and devotion to duty under fire and elsewhere. Sister Rosenthal comes from a family that has done its duty splendidly to the Empire – Lieut S. Rosenthal, a brother, was killed leading his men in a gallant counter-attack and Dr Rosenthal, another brother, has just returned from the front to his practice at Camberwell, Melbourne. Jewish Herald (Vic), Fri 27 Dec 1918 (p.7): REPORT BY REV J. DANGLOW, JEWISH CHAPLAIN, AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE 22nd December 1918 ……………………………………………. On the 18th inst., prior to joining Mr Barnett at No. 7 CCS, …………………………………… At No. 7 CCS I met Sister Rosenthal, of Melbourne, who kindly handed me Australian journals for our boys, and promised to send such papers regularly for their use. Jewish Herald (Vic), Fri 24 Jan 1919 (p.5): [Photo] A JEWISH NURSE WITH THE ALLIES SISTER LEAH ROSENTHAL DECORATED ……………………………………………………………………. She was one of the first Victorian army nurses entrusted with the administering of anaesthetic; a small group of them being specially trained for this responsible work. For some time she has been attached to a medical unit deputed to follow up the advance of the Allies. This has given her the opportunity of observing at close quarters many of the places where the Hun has been in occupation and left evidence of his vandalism. …………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………………………………. Sister Rosenthal is now with the 33rd Casualty Clearing Station, and has been continuously right up to the end of the war with the first army of occupation, and is, we believe, the first Jewish nurse in Australia to gain the decoration of the Royal Red Cross. In a letter received last month Sister Rosenthal refers to her having attended her second Yom Kippur service on the battlefield, being the only woman present on each occasion. Padre Barnett officiated, and had to improvise biscuit tins, with a curtain in front for the Ark to hold the Scrolls of the Law. Sister Rosenthal states that this, however, did not in any way militate against the impressiveness of the occasion nor the service. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/149669872 The British Journal of Nursing, Feb 22, 1919: HONOURS FOR NURSES The King held an Investiture in the Ball Room of Buckingham Palace, on February 13th, when His Majesty conferred the following decorations: ……………………………………………………………….. ROYAL RED CROSS – Second Class QAIMNS – Sister Isabella Jobson QAIMNSR – Sister Leah Rosenthal …………………………………………………………… Queen Alexandra subsequently received at Marlborough House the members of the Military Nursing Services who have been awarded the Royal Red Cross and the Military Medal, subsequent to the Investiture at Buckingham Palace. The Mercury (Hobart), Sat 1 Feb 1919 (p.10): With the Army into Flanders MISS LEAH ROSENTHAL, who is in her fourth year of active service, has been awarded the Royal Red Cross. On more than one occasion she has been recommended for honours by her commanding officer and matron for heroic conduct at casualty stations under shell fire. Writing six days before the signing of the armistice to Mrs M Rosenthal, her mother, at Dickens-street, St Kilda, Sister Rosenthal describes a visit she made with some other nurses for afternoon tea at the quarters of the Australian Light Horse in a small French village: - “This poor little village is very much knocked about. Many of the insides of the houses are ripped to pieces, and one sees oddments of furniture scattered all over the place. The 4th Australian Light Horsemen had their mess in what was once a little terrace of brick cottages. While we were enjoying our tea, in walked an old Frenchman and his daughter. This was their home, which he had not seen for four years, owing to the German occupation. They went about the room and touched the furniture lovingly. It was pathetic to see them. Especially glad were they to find the fireplace, mirror, and their heirloom cupboard undamaged. In most of these French houses, no matter how humble, there is a fine old cupboard. In a little house where I was once billeted there was a cupboard more than 200 years old. The owner was only a poor peasant woman, but she would not part with it, although offered large sums for it. “I left there very soon afterwards for a small town near Valenciennes. It is most interesting following in the advance like this, and being attached to the first casualty clearing stations to come to these parts. In this place the main bridge across the canal had been blown up by the gentle Hun, so we had to cross on one that our troops had thrown across. The town had the French flag flying from nearly every window. The scene was very gay, but it was terrible to see the white, thin faces of the people, especially the little children. These people had been four years in the power of the Germans, and had never tasted meat all that time, just bread and grease, and vegetables sometimes. The field ambulance men who arrived before us saw most pathetic sights. The whole population was ravenous. Those who were given food simply bolted it down their throats without any attempt at mastication. One man ate steadily for two hours, and even then was not satisfied, our soldiers had to give him another meal. When they first arrived our men saw women cutting up dead horses and fighting in the streets for the flesh. We are quartered in a large school. It has been a magnificent building, but when we took possession it was in a dreadful state of filth and neglect. The Huns had cut off the water supply, destroyed the drainage pipes, and battered parts of the building with bombs. The engineers came along before some of the bombs exploded, and so saved the place from being entirely demolished. In a few days we had it converted into a clean and comfortable hospital.” Sister Rosenthal is a trainee of the Alfred Hospital, and before volunteering for active service with Miss Isabel Jobson, sister of Brigadier-General Jobson, of Sydney, managed Windarra private hospital, Williams-road, Toorak. She and Miss Jobson enlisted on the same date, and have never been separated all the time they have been on active service. Miss Jobson was awarded the Royal Red Cross last year. Jewish Herald (Vic), Fri 30 May 1919 (p.11): http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/149670592 Jewish Herald (Vic), Fri 31 Oct 1919 (p.12): ABOUT PEOPLE Nurse Leah Rosenthal and Nurse Nellie Isaacs were the recipients, amongst other military nurses, residents of St Kilda, of badges and certificates from the St Kilda sub-branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League, and of which they were made honorary life members. At the reception, which was given at the St Kilda Lounge on the 14th inst., Councillor H.F. Barnet responded on behalf of the nurses. Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 19 Aug 1920 (p.35): Sister Jobson, R.R.C., and Sister Leah Rosenthal, R.R.C., have settled down to peace-time occupation, and have taken the private hospital known as “St Luke’s,” Queen’s-road, which will in future be known as Vimy House Private Hospital. The Argus, Mon 6 Oct 1930: DEATHS ROSENTHAL – On the 4th October, 1930, Leah, the beloved daughter of Martha and the late Joseph Rosenthal, of 45 Dickens street, St Kilda, and loved sister of Fanny (deceased), Jack, Henry, Sam (deceased), Milly (Mrs F. Nunn), and Myer. – Rest in peace. ROSENTHAL – On the 4th October, Leah Rosenthal, of Vimy House, Queen’s road, Melbourne. FUNERALS ROSENTHAL – The Friends of Miss LEAH ROSENTHAL are respectfully informed that her funeral will leave the residence of her mother (Mrs J. Rosenthal), 45 Dickens street, St Kilda, THIS MORNING, (Monday, 6th October), at 11 o’clock, for the Brighton Cemetery.