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    • WHEELER, Laura Elizabeth – Staff Nurse, QAIMNSR
    • Posted by FrevFord, Monday, 18 June 2018

    Born on the 10th of April 1887 at St Arnaud, Vic – the daughter of William Edwin WHEELER and Ann PROCTOR, who married in Vic in 1869 William, the proprietor of the St Arnaud Brewery, died at St Arnaud in 1894, aged 57 Ann died in 1912 at St Arnaud, aged 64 Siblings (all born St Arnaud): William John b.1871 – d.1872; John b.1873; Francis Edwin b.1875; Mary Ann Maud b.1877 – marr Wilson Geo PUNSHON 1901 – d.1958; William Edwin b.1878; Ethel Florence b.1879; Sydney Proctor b.1882; Beatrice Caroline b.1884 – marr Thos Arth LEADBEATER 1912; Charles Edward b.1886 Educated at St Arnaud State School Trained in nursing at the St Arnaud District Hospital, leaving in May 1908 1909 – Nurse at the Women’s Hospital, Carlton She also had experience in Private Nursing and as a Sister in the Koonwarra Private Hospital, Armadale Living with her family at Canterbury St, St Arnaud in (1909) 1912 Resident of 63 Park St, Sth Yarra in 1914 WW1: Sailed for England to join the war effort, embarking in Melbourne on the RMS Orontes 24/11/1915 Staying with her cousin Mrs E.H. Worth at Streatham, London, she filled out her application to join Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve on the 11/1/1916 Following acceptance, she joined for duty and was posted to the Cambridge Hospital, Aldershot on the 19/2/1916 Embarked for Egypt, and joined for duty at the Citadel Hospital, Cairo on the 4/11/1917 Local Leave from the 9th to the 15/8/1918 Transferred to the Government Hospital, Suez 5/12/1918, then to the 36th Stationary Hospital 14/2/1919 Local Leave 21/2/1919 to 2/3/1919, and 26/4/1919 to 1/5/1919 Joined 110 CFA, Jerusalem for duty 13/5/1919 – before being admitted as a patient with Valvular Disease of the Heart 24/7/1919 – then to the 33 CCH 2/8/1919 – 24th Stationary Hospital 7/8/1919 – Nasrieh Officers Hospital 17/9/1919 – Convalescent Depot, Montazah 11/11/1919 To Nasrieh Hospital 11/2/1920 Invalided to the UK on the Panama, embarking Alexandria 3/3/1920, and admitted to Netley Hospital 16/3/1920, followed by various bouts of Sick Leave During her Medical Board on the 22/9/1920 she was finally declared permanently unfit for service and recommended for repatriation to Australia Returned to Australia on the SS Orsova, embarking 27/11/1920 – her engagement with the QAIMNSR terminated 36 days after embarkation, on the 1/1/1921 Living 646 High St, Armadale in 1924; Dundas St, St Arnaud 1925, 1937; Operating a private hospital in St Arnaud 1928, 1935 1932 Laura, along with Miss Evangeline Terry, embarked at Colombo on the Maloja for Melbourne – the ship entering quarantine at Fremantle on the 25/10/1932 – their address in Australia, Dundas St, St Arnaud Resident of 164 Wattletree Rd, Malvern 1943; 25 Dundas St, St Arnaud 1949, 1954; No longer listed as a nurse, she was living in Flat 2, Regent Crt, 72 McKillop St, Geelong in 1963, 1972 Laura died in a private hospital in Geelong, Vic on the 18th of August 1974, aged 87, and was cremated at the Altona Memorial Park on the 20th Woomelang Sun and Lascelles and Ouyen Advocate (Vic), Fri 11 Feb 1916 (p.2): A Nurse’s Letter The following interesting letter has been received by Mrs B. Leadbeater from her sister who has proceeded to the front as a hospital nurse: – R.M.S. “Orontes” Thursday Dec 16, 1915 We are just about two days from the Red Sea after sundry breakdowns of our engines, the first being before we reached Colombo – that was very nice because it gave us extra time at Colombo. But since leaving we had sudden stops about four times a day. We do not care much about that, but we wonder if they will be alright in the Mediterranean, but I do not think they will take us if there is any danger. It is impossible to describe my impressions of Colombo for they were many and wonderful. The first touch of Eastern life you simply cannot grasp at once. We anchored at 5 p.m. in the harbor, then went ashore by launch, and in a remarkably short time the harbor was a seething mass of black figures that seemed to come from nowhere. They are all talking and yelling at once, the noise being intense, but no one takes the slightest notice of the other yelling at him. We were staying ashore. It seemed absolutely unreal and felt it must all be a dream, and could not realise I was really seeing it. On arriving ashore just before dusk we decided on a rickshaw drive. On coming out from the wharf one meets a yelling mass of natives selling everything and pushing flowers into your hands, for which you think how kind of them. The flowers are heavily scented and are something like a water lily, and are held sacred. We went to the Grand Oriental Hotel as they have much the cleaner rickshaws. From the G.O.H. we set out for the Galle Face Hotel. We started up the street a party of five, and the natives who gave you flowers ran along about four deep wanting to be paid. “Me give you flower, Ladee,” and you pay them two or three times, still they come flapping their sides, saying you are their mother, or auntie, they don’t know which. After leaving the city we went through a portion of the natives’ quarters which seem more teeming than before, and are the essence of filth. There appeared to be a hundred in each dwelling place. But we passed many beautiful buildings en route, reaching the Galle Face after a 40 minutes’ run. This is a most wonderful place, situated on the edge of the ocean. On entering the hotel you go down a long corridor, with shops on either side. They have wonderful things and a wonderful way of selling same, you simply can’t help buying. We dined at 9 p.m. It was a terrible dinner, but can’t say we enjoyed it, for half the time we did not know what we were eating. The dining room is a magnificent room, probably larger than the St Arnaud town hall, in fact I amsure it is, with large tiled verandahs running the full length with lovely palms. Inside there is a balcony fitted up into separate supper rooms. On entering the lounge and before you sit down, there are men pushing ware at you to buy, laces, silks, jewels, etc. We retired about 12.30 and were up early, taking a one hour’s drive to Mt Lavinia, and visited the Buddha’s Temple. I put in quite a lot of time at the Hospital and will feel quite lost when they leave. Since I began this letter I have had a most terrible time. We got a very bad case of pneumonia following on measles and we fought to keep the man alive against the heat of the Red Sea. If we only had oxygen things would have been alright. We have two science men on board and they were to try and produce oxygen. They began on Sunday night. I cannot describe the awfulness of that night. The sergeant called me at 6 a.m., Sunday, as the man was very bad. I stayed with him all day and night. Orderlies were flying in every direction with water and ice. At 7 they told me they couldn’t produce oxygen. I did not think the man would live beyond 10 a.m. but after breakfast he rallied and I thought he would live. But the poor chap died at 2 p.m. I will never forget it and it simply bowled me clean over. The funeral was at 5 p.m., and the soldiers asked if I would attend. I wanted to keep back but Dr Collier would not have it so. He pointed out how much the men would appreciate and what it would mean to them to see me there, and so I was there with all the officers, and really I was glad when I saw their faces on seeing me there, for every one expressed what he felt. They gave me a cartridge from the volley, and just this minute a steward brought me a note, and this is what it had: – Nurse, we count you quite a sport, Using all your skill unsought, Rendering the sick men aid Such as for their comfort made. Every man on board the ship Would be pleased your hand to grip, He who was the most in need Ever found you – friend indeed. Every A.M.C. man says Lots of nice things of your ways Ere we part we wish you health Rarest happiness and wealth. It is rather crude, but the sentiment is there. We are in the Suez and just about leaving, and I miss the Hospital terribly. We anchor in the canal to-night with all lights out. We are just nearing the canal, so will close. [In recognition of her services in Hospital, Nurse Wheeler was presented with a purse of sovereigns by the passengers, officers, and men. Ed. SUN] St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Wed 21 Jun 1916 (p.3): LETTER FROM SISTER WHEELER Mrs G. Punshon, of St Arnaud, is in receipt of a letter from her sister, Miss Laura Wheeler, who is nursing, under engagement by the Home Defence authorities, at Aldershot, England. Under date 5th May, 1916, Sister Wheeler says: – I think I am booked here for some considerable time, as I am doing an awfully good work. I have been given a good post. They have started to specialize in jaw cases. Some of the poor boys look very pitiful, and yet they are all so wonderfully good. To be able to get their faces a bit presentable, or at least able to get them into such a condition as they can take decent food, is a work worth while doing. We have a London specialist for jaws only. I have been given charge of this department, which is an important position, and am over the heads of many senior sisters and staff nurses. It means plenty of worry and plenty of work. Captain Gillies is awfully pleased with the result even now. I have a ward of 26 beds and a hut of 20 beds, a staff nurse, two probationers, and four orderlies. On Easter Monday we had a concert in our ward, and about 70 patients were present. They all thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We gave them tea and cake and fruit salad (not Australian), and cigarettes. It was a splendid afternoon. We have one day a month off duty, and can take a run to London. I went up last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Arthur is still in hospital, and says he is now improving. I hope so. He has had a long time of it. I met Lady McBride and we had tea together. I also subsequently met Nurse Jackson. I am pleased to hear the Ebelings arrived home safely. Sister Wheeler also forwarded several post cards showing Cambridge Hospital, Aldershot; Church Parade, All Saints Church, Aldershot; Parade Ground, R.A.M.C., Aldershot; and Head Quarter’s Office, Aldershot. Woomelang Sun and Lascelles and Ouyen Advocate (Vic), Fri 21 Jul 1916 (p.2): Local and General Nurse Wheeler, a sister of Mrs A.T. Leadbeater, of Woomelang, has been appointed Matron of a military hospital at Aldershot, England. This hospital is specialising in jaw cases, so our readers can quite imagine that some of the patients have a very bad time. The nurse says that some of the poor fellows have half of their face blown away. The authorities are doing their utmost to so far cure all patients that they will be able to eat decently, restoring anything like a presentable appearance, is, unfortunately, out of the question in many cases. St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Wed 24 Jan 1917 (p.2): A SOLDIER’S LETTER – PRIVATE FRED PROCTOR Writing from First Southern General Hospital, Birmingham, Private Fred Proctor, in a letter to his sister, Mrs M.D. Cole, of Knorsh, under date November 13th 1916, says: – ……………………… I will call and see Laura Wheeler when I get my leave. …………………. Hamilton Spectator (Vic), Sat 24 Feb 1917 (p.4): CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS IN HOSPITAL Mr J. Ballis has received a letter from Sister L. Wheeler, of the Cambridge hospital, Aldershot, informing him that his brother, Private Fred Ballis, who was wounded in France during December, is progressing very well. Sister Wheeler writes: – He was wounded in the right shoulder, so is unable to write just yet. I am glad to say his wound is getting on very nicely. We had an awfully nice concert in the ward yesterday (January 1st), which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. We also had one on Christmas Day, and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. We all had a bonzer Christmas, in spite of arriving at midnight. On Christmas morning there was snow about, which made everything beautifully white, and the weather since has been intensely cold. Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 18 Jul 1918 (p.9): MILITARY WEDDING IN EGYPT Lieutenant Myles O’Hara to Sister Hilda Wellmens …………………………………………………. The bride, who had only recently arrived in Cairo on transport service, was given away by Lieuenant-Colonel Fulton, the Australian Commandant in Egypt, and was attended by Sister Wheeler, of the Citadel Military Hospital Staff. …………………………. The Argus (Melb, Vic), Mon 21 May 1934 (p.4): SALARIES OF NURSES TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS Sir, The Colac Community Hospital advertises for six staff nurses for the private section – three nurses having general certificates and three nurses having double or midwifery certificates, salary £75. Is this not something to fill all trained nurses with horror and shame; horror that a community hospital committee dares offer qualified nurses £75 a year, and shame to think that after years of study and rigid training our qualifications are valued at that pitiful salary. Doubtless in a short while we shall be told The Colac Community Hospital is paying its way splendidly. Will it not rather be the unhappy nurses who are paying its way? To live, nurses are now being forced to accept these positions, underpaid as they are. When a community hospital is established, private hospitals are closed and very little private nursing is obtainable. Thus more trained nurses are thrown out of employment. When hotels are closed compensation is paid to the owner and lessee by the Government. There is absolutely nothing being done for the nurses whose livelihood is being taken from them. In a little time the real nurse will have disappeared. – Yours &c. LAURA E. WHEELER, S.R.N., St Arnaud, May 16 The Age (Melb, Vic), Tue 27 Apr 1937 (p.14): AUXILIARY BRIDGE PARTY For Incapacitated Nurses A most successful bridge party was held by members of the Canterbury auxiliary of the Society for the Care of Incapacitated Nurses at the Victoria last night. Sixty tables were set up to accommodate the guests, who were received by the president of the auxiliary, Miss L. Weeding, and included the acting president of the society, Miss O’Reilly; the secretary of the Returned Army Nurses’ Club, Miss Ambler, and the president of the St Arnaud auxiliary for the society, Miss L.E. Wheeler. ……………………………………………… The Age (Melb, Vic), Fri 31 May 1940 (p.3): St Arnaud Auxiliary Dance ST ARNAUD, Thursday – Five hundred dancers were present at the annual dance conducted by the St Arnaud auxiliary for the Society for the Care of Aged and Incapacitated Nurses in the St Arnaud town hall to-night. Autumn tonings were effectively used in the decorations. During the supper the secretary (Miss L.E. Wheeler) said that a considerable portion of the proceeds would be devoted to the auxiliary’s home, “Airdrie,” Canterbury. The committee in charge of the arrangements included the president, Mrs G. Telford; vice-presidents, Mrs W. Mitchell, Mrs R. Brain; hon. secretary, Miss L. Wheeler; hon. assistant secretary, Mrs G. Lorimer. Benalla Ensign (Vic), Fri 14 Mar 1941 (p.2): PERSONAL Miss L.E. Wheeler, who was accompanied by her friend, Miss T. Terry, of St Arnaud, who have been holidaying with Mr and Mrs W.S. Byrne at the Bank of New South Wales, have returned home. It was very interesting to find that visitors so far afield were very impressed with the town. Better known to her friends as Matron, Miss Wheeler renewed old acquaintances in Benalla and Wangaratta. The Age (Vic), Mon 19 Aug 1974 (p.15): DEATHS WHEELER – On August 18th, at a private hospital, Geelong, Laura Elizabeth, beloved youngest daughter of the late William and Ann Wheeler (late of St Arnaud), beloved aunt of all her nieces and nephews and friend of Kate A. Campbell. Aged 87 years. The long day closes. No flowers, by request. FUNERAL NOTICES WHEELER – The Funeral of the late Miss LAURA ELIZABETH WHEELER is appointed to leave Christ Church, Moorabool Street, Geelong, TOMORROW (TUESDAY), after a service commencing at 9.45 a.m., for the Memorial Park Crematorium, North Altona, arriving approximately 11.15 a.m.