What Did You Do in the War Mummy ? At least 60 Illawarra women served as Nurses in WW2

So far at least 60 women with Illawarra connections have been identified as having served in  Nursing roles in WW2 – nearly double the number who served in WW1. Some were qualified, experienced registered nurses, who were part of the AANS (AWM exhibition notes). Others were possibly more of a nursing orderly who may have previously served in the VAD’s – they became part of the AAWMS.

Of course there were  many more women who served in roles other than nursing during WW2 that would have been unthinkable in WW1. Perhaps with Australia itself being considered to be under threat rather than the war being over there as in WW1 – it was necessary to encourage woment to enlist to release as many men as possible to serve in the armed forces?

Note – the Australian War Memorial Collections with their incredible photographs provide a wonderful insight into the lives of our Illawarra Nurses in WW2 – and it is acknowledged that the photos from this page were sourced from the AWM Collections.

P03725.008 21940 2-5th in Palestine in 1940 in their WW1 style uniforms

In the uniforms of French-grey and carmine, the sisters of the 2/5 Australian General Hospital make a colourful study as they form up for inspection by Matron Best near Rehovot, Palestine. Many of these nurses are seasoned campaigners, who have earned the heartfelt gratitude of A.I.F sick and wounded. Department of Information colour photograph by Captain Frank Hurley, official photographer with the AIF. NFX12617 Matron (Lt Col) Kathleen Annie Louise Best was awarded the Royal Red Cross (1st class) and came from Ashfield in NSW. Matron Kathleen Best inspecting the nurses of the 2/5th Australian General Hospital on parade in camp.

They served in Australia, the Middle East, Europe, Malta, India  including Bombay, Greece, Crete, Singapore, New Guinea and Borneo. Many people focus on the Vyner Brooke – and yet the story of Nursing in WW2 is much wider than Banka Island and POW nurses.

Wollongong Hairdresser and VAD, Gwen Keys, was one woman who served in the AAWMS in Bougainville as a hairdresser (1, 2, 3, 4), after previously serving as a Medical Orderly and Driver.

Unfortunately the National Archives of Australia has not undertaken the comprehensive digitisation of WW2 Service Records, unlike its WW1 programme. However there are Australian War Memorial records and also many digitised newspaper articles mentioning our nurses.

Of particular interest is the chapter on the Army Nursing Service on the Australian War Memorial website  which provides an excellent overview of the Military Nursing services post World War 1, when it was maintained at virtually a nominal reserve level. Nevertheless when there was the outbreak of WW2,  there was virtually an immediate offer by 4000 nurses to enlist  – which was in fact more than was initially deemed to be needed. And of course this perceived requirement changed with the increasing aggression of the Japanese in the East Asia – South West Pacific Regions. So many more nurses were needed until well after the official peace in August 1945 – including to nurse the ex POW’s many of whom were shown to be in horrific condition – as seen in the AWM Collection photographs of that time.

Unfortunately it may not be possible to identify the individual units where many of our Nurses with Illawarra connections served, without a  comprehensive programme for digitisation of their service records.

From the http://www.anzacday.or.au website “Over 4,100 Australian nurses served in World War 2, in the Royal Australian Army Nursing Service (RAANS), Royal Australian Air Force Nursing Service (RAAFNS formed in 1940), and Royal Australian Naval Nursing Service (RANNS formed in 1942). In her study of nurses in the AANS, Jan Bassett identified four main reasons why women were prepared to serve as army nurses: patriotism, a sense of duty, a spirit of adventure, and social pressure or expectations. They served in established hospitals, troop ships, camps and temporary hospitals, and on aeroplanes. They served in the Northern Territory (Darwin, Katherine, Adelaide River), the Middle East, Britain, Greece, Crete, Malaya, New Guinea, Ceylon, Eritrea, Syria, Libya, Palestine, Tobruk, Dutch East Indies, Japan, Balikpapan and Labuan. While nurses were kept away from the front lines as much as possible, they were caught up in the evacuation of Singapore, and many were in hospital ships which were attacked by Japanese forces, and many were murdered as they washed up on beaches from their sunken ship. A nurse was killed in the first Japanese attack on Darwin. Nurses were also caught close to the front line in the evacuations at Tobruk, Greece and Crete. But in the main they served behind the front lines, or in Australia. Fifty-five nurses were decorated, and 82 others were Mentioned in Despatches. 95 died on service – 24 during attacks on hospital ships, 18 from illness, eight as Prisoners of War, and 21 murdered in the sea by Japanese troops after they had survived the sinking of their hospital ship”

The research so far indicates that the most highly decorated Illawarra nurse appears to be Lieutenant Colonel Janet Lyall Cook who was Matron of 2/5th Australian General Hospital – note some brief notes on the unit from the 2/5th’s website.

The nurses identified so far with Illawarra connections are as follows :

    • Pte Patricia Stewart Armstrong, Helensburgh – NF482930 – AAMWS – born Helensburgh – Record – 103 (Baulkham Hills – interview with another AAWMS) & Yaralla 113 (Concord) Australian General Hospitals – married Nicholo De Farmizon Doroszenko in 1952 – divorcedArmstrong Patricia
    • Pte Hannah Jean Beazley, Port Kembla –  NFX152924 N442094  NX152924 – 103 Australian General Hospital (interview with another AAWMS) – married Francis Joseph Doyle in 1944 – may have served overseas ?
    • Capt Zelma Beneke –  NX70460 – N79128  – RPAH Nurses Register – 2/6th Australian General Hospital – need to check this entry
    • Capt Mavis Eileen Ruth Bennett, Bellambi- NX27304 N101386 – served 102 Australian General Hospital (Ekibin and Holland Park Brisbane) – married Lieutenant John Cheeseman Bennett in 1945 (who had served in the Middle East and New Guinea)  – from 1949 they became graziers / farmers in the Inverell -Warialda – Brewarrina – Macksville districts
    • Pte Verna Louise Bieman, Thirroul – AAWMS – NF461794 – 105 Australian General Hospital (Dawe Park Adelaide)  married Francis Henry Kimbrey (Sherbrooke descendant) in 1947
    • Pte Jean Buchanan, Corrimal – Woonona – AAWMS – NF481737 – enlisted in 1945 – served in Bathurst – perhaps the 104th Australian General Hospital associated with the Bathurst Army Camp ? Jean’s service certificate presented in 1947  – married in 1947 to William Crick who had been a Leading Aircraft Man in the RAAF. Note  – she is not this Jean Crick (123,  45).
    • Pte Annie Byrne, Kiama – Jamberoo – NFX145134 – NFX145134 – AAWMS – enlisted in 1943 at Yaralla 113 Australian General Hospital
    • Lieut Dulcie Clowes, Austinmer – NFX207498 – NX207498 – – AANS –  Yaralla 113 Australian General Hospital – seems to have worked as a Nurse at Prince Henry Hospital prior to WW2.
    • Pte Olive May Cody, Shellharbour – NF482431 – AAWMS
    • Sister Helen Joyce Cook66 – No. 1 Hospital RAAF Laverton and also in Northern Australia which was possibly Darwin ? – she had worked at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital prior to WW2 –  she married in late 1942 to Flight Lieutenant Howard Webber – 1, 2 .
    • Lieut Colonel & Matron (Sister) Janet Lyall Cook –2/5th Australian General Hospital  – Royal Red Cross Second Class – Gazette Notice,  US Bronze Star – before the war she had been a Nursing Sister in the Scott Memorial Hospital (Scone Advocate June 7 1940). The 2/5th AGH was formed at Greta 

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    • 092228 AWM Matron Janet Cook at Moratai

      MOROTAI. 1945-05-16. MAJOR J.L. COOK, MATRON, 2/5TH GENERAL HOSPITAL. MATRON COOK SERVED IN PALESTINE, GREECE, AND CRETE; WAS AT ARMIDALE IN 1942 FOR A PERIOD; AND THEN AT PORT MORESBY FROM JANUARY 1943 TO JUNE 1944, BEFORE COMING TO MOROTAI.

      She served firstly in the Middle East – see SMH June 5 1940. Later she served in Papua New Guinea as Matron 2/5th Australian General Hospital and was included in announcements for recognition of service there in The Argus Melbourne March 9 1945 (- see also  Left photo below  – AWM Collections). In October 1945 she was at Moratai at the Advanced Land Headquarters and it was there that she was presented with the Bronze Star Medal (Right photo below – AWM Collections). Photos from 2/5th Archives 

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      By 1946 she was Matron of Lismore Base Hospital, joined Lismore RSL,  and it was noted she had served in 106 General Hospital ( Northern Star Lismore 18.9.1946 – Northern Star Lismore January 18 1947). She was providing frank advice in an inquiry into Lismore Base Hospital’s adequacy in 1946 – Northern Star Lismore October 29 1946. Married and living in Cootamundra in 1953. Died 1992 – death registration under married name Lucas.

    • Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate March 9 1945 – The latest list of awards for members of the military forces in the South-West Pacific Area includes …. Nurses Honoured – Three members of the Army Nursing Service also are among those     honoured. They are Major (Matron) (Olive Ada Kestel (of Ruddal, S.A.), Major (Matron) Janet Lyall Cook (of Wollongong. N.S.W.) and Captain Honor (Sister) Hardy (of Wagga   N.SW.).   Major Kestel was awarded the Royal Red Cross. The official citation states: “Major Kestel arrived in New Guinea in September, 1943; with 24 members of the Australian Army Nursing Service. During the ensuing period the hospital was working to capacity and there were frequent enemy air raids in the near vicinity. She has at all times carried out her duties as Matron with energy, tact and control. In consequence of her untiring devotion to duty, the work of the nursing staff has been beyond ??    Major Cook and Captain Hardy were made Associates of the Royal Red Cross. Major Cook’s citation states : “In spite of the many difficulties associated with the establishment and   administration of a general hospital   in New Guinea. Major Cook controlled and organised the nursing service in a most brilliant manner. She is a tireless and energetic worker, and by her personal leadership inspired the Australian Army Nursing  Service personnel under her command. Matron Cook did not hesitate, in spite of the severest physical strain, to devote her skill to the needs of the patients at all times.” Captain Hardy’s citation states:”For six months Captain T Kardy occupied the position of Deputy Matron of the 25 A.G.H. No praise could be too high for the way in which she discharged her responsibilities. Great credit must be given   to her tact and understanding. The successful functioning of the unit was due, in no small measure to these qualities.”
    • M.A.P. – Illawarra Mercury March 29 1945 – Honour has been brought to this district by Major Janet Cook, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Cook, of Mt. Ousley, who has been made an associate of the Royal Red Cross. Major Cook has seen service overseas and has been the matron of a large military hospital somewhere in Australia. At present she is awaiting a further posting. We join with her many friends in extending congratulations.
    • Women”s News  SAILED IN HOSPITAL SHIP  NURSES’ UNITS FOR PACIFIC A.A.M.W.S. In Big Draft – Sydney Morning Herald April 30 1945  – With their identifying numbers in their hatbands, members   of the A.A.N.S. and of the A.A.M.W.S. marched along a Sydney wharf recently to join an  Australian hospital ship on the first lap of their journey to forward areas to staff Australian general hospitals. They formed one of the largest drafts to leave Australia for a Pacific base. Carrying haversacks and suitcases, with extra blankets strapped on the outside, the girls took nearly two hours to embark. They were checked at the foot of the gangway before going aboard to make sure that there would be no stowaways. There was no need to worry about anyone being left behind. “Practically every girl was breaking her neck to go,” one of the officers said. The girls were the last “cargo” to be taken aboard before the ship sailed. In charge of the sisters in the ship is Matron Lucy Staton, a Sydney trained nurse, who has had several years’ service at sea. She was with the ship in the Middle East, and, with the commanding surgeon, Lieutenant Colonel Garnett Halloran, has seen big numbers of casualties handled.Members of the A.A.M.W.S. were very excited as they stowed away their gear on tiers of bunks in the converted diningroom. “This is just what we have been waiting for,” said one girl. In charge of the AAMWS, who will go to an Australian general hospital, is Captain Barbara Evans, of Western Australia. Assisting her is Lieutenant Margaret Knowles, of Sydney. Travelling in the ship is Matron E. J. Bowe, who recently became principal matron for Advanced I.H.Q. Matron Bowe, who holds the A.R.R.C., served in England for six months and then went to the Middle East for 15 months with the 2nd A.G.H., a famous hospital. She wears the Africa Star with her A.R.R.C. ribbon.Matron Janet Cook is in charge of a group of nurses travelling to staff a general hospital. Eight of these nurses will go to a casualty clearing station. Private VIDA COOPER, wearing her tropical uniform, was amona thc A.A.M.W.S. who recently left for service at a Pacific base.
    • AWARDS TO ARMY NURSES  U.S. Bronze Star Medal .MOROTAI, Thursday. — The Melbourne Age – October 5 1945 – Three high-ranking members of the Australian Army Nursing Service were among eight Australian offi cers who were decorated with the American Bronze Star Medal , at Morotai to-day by the Com manding General of the 93rd American Division (Brigadier- General Boyd). They were: — The principal matron of advanced head quarters, Lieut. -Colonel E. J. Bowe, of Victoria: matron of the 2/5th Australian General Hospital, Lieut.-Colonel J. L.Cook, of New South Wales, and matron of the 2/9th Australian General Hospital, Lieut.-Colonel H. Croll, of New South Wales. The other five officers decoratedwere: — Lieut.-Colonels E. W. Haywood, of Adelaide; T. F. Cape, of Victoria; C. M. Arnold, of Queensland, and Majors J. E. Kay, of Victoria, and M. G. Cleaver, of Tasmania. The cere mony was attended by Lady Blarney, who has just returned here from Singapore, and the Matron in .Chief of the- Austra lian Army Nursing = Service (Colonel A. M. Sage). 

      117469 Janet Cook and fellow US Bronze Star Awardees

      MOROTAI. 1945-10-03. NFX12618 LIEUTENANT COLONEL J. L. COOK, ASSOCIATE OF THE ROYAL RED CROSS (ARRC), MATRON 2/5TH AUSTRALIAN GENERAL HOSPITAL (LEFT) VFX384 LIEUTENANT COLONEL E. J. BOWE, ARRC, PRINCIPAL MATRON ADVANCED LAND HEADQUARTERS (CENTRE) AND NFX138748 LIEUTENANT COLONEL H. CROLL, MATRON 2/9TH AUSTRALIAN GENERAL HOSPITAL (RIGHT) ALL OF WHO RECEIVED THE BRONZE STAR (UNITED STATES ARMY DECORATION) DURING A PARADE AT THE ADVANCED LAND HEADQUARTERS.

    • Australian Nurses Win American Bronze Star MOROTAI.- Army News October 10 1945 Three high ranking members of the Australian Army Nursing Service were among eight Australian officers who were decorated with the American Bronze Star at Morotai by the Commanding General of the 93rd American Division, Brigadier-General Boyd. recently. They were Principal Matron of Ad vanced LHQ, Lieutenant-Colonel E. J.Bowe, of Victoria: matron of 215 AGH, Lieutenant-Colonel J. L. Cook, of NSW, and matron of 2/9 General Hospital, Lieutenant-Colonel H. Croll, of NSW
    • In April 1946 Lady Mountbatten was visiting Australia and Lieutenant Colonel (Matron)  Janet Cook was booked to deputise for Army Matron in Chief Colonel A M Sage  – 1, 2, 3, 4, – her visits were to 106 AGH Bonegilla and Heidelberg.
    • Notes on an 1987 interview by Jan Bassett   (AWM Collections) with Janet Lucas nee Cook of her experiences in WW2 – “Early life; commenced civilian nursing training at Sydney Hospital in 1926; registered for army reserve in 1939; called up in 1940; posted to 2/5th Australian General Hospital (AGH); camp hospital at Greta, New South Wales; left on SS Queen Mary for Middle East; describes conditions and uniforms; sent to Piraeus in Greece; lost commanding officer in German air attack; describes evacuation from Greece onboard HMAS Voyager; relationship with British nurses; went to Crete then Alexandria and attached to British hospital; left Middle East for Australia on SS Mauritania in 1942; set up hospital in Armidale NSW; promoted to Matron; 2/5th AGH then moved to Port Moresby; in 1943 2/5th AGH moved to Morotai; malaria and scrub typhus; health of nurses; conditions on Morotai; condition of Australian prisoners of war (POW) evacuated from Borneo; returned from Morotai in 1945 and posted as matron to camp hospital at Bonegilla, Victoria; demobilised in 1946; effects of war on advances in medical treatment and procedures.
      • Other media stories – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
    • Lieut Valerie Corderoy – Record
    • Corp Ethel Cripps
    • Lieut Lucy Dolahan
    • Lieut Bronwen Evans
    • Capt Isobel FernieRecord Fernie Isobel
    • Pte Agnes Field
    • Capt Margaret Gibson
    • Pte Linda Gluth
    • Pte Nancy Grady
    • Capt Elizabeth Maude “Bessie”  Hawkes (b. 21.09.1908 – d.14.2.1983)- NFX 34811 –  Record – listed in nurses in overseas contingent in Sydney Morning Herald June 5 1940 . Hawkes ElizabethShe served in the Middle East, with several stints in New Guinea and at Morotai. This was in various units, viz 2/5th Australian General Hospital, 2/1 AGH, 2/2 AGH, 2/9 AGH, 101 GH, 118 AGH, 2/1 Hospital Ship. She trained at Prince Henry Hospital and was serving at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at the outbreak of the war, according to her service record. She was one of the earliest  to enlist – on October 25 1939. It is uncertain if she had nursed at Bowral in the Southern Highlands, as a Sister B Hawkes is linked to that area. After the war she returned to Wollongong, pioneered a newly created role in District Nursing, with her own rooms, car and telephone – not to mention becoming  a JP – Media Stories – 1, 2, 3,  4, 5, 6,  7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,  21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27,  28, 2930, 31, 32, 33, 34. The District Nursing Service, designed to take pressure off the hospitals, was slow to take grow initially, however over time it did grow and her care was greatly appreciated, and apparently especially palliative care.
    • Pte Mabel Hedley
    • Pte Adelaide Herring
    • Lieut Jessie HennessyRecord 
    • Capt Mary Hill
    • Pte Mildred Hooper
    • Cpl Hope Jowett
    • Pte Gwenda Keys
    • Pte Jean Lang
    • Sister Una Lee
    • Cpl Marjorie Lindsay
    • Pte Daphne Macrae
    • Staff Nurse Violet Manton
    • Lieut Margaret May – NX119272 (N391906) – Army (was Sister at Lithgow & Coledale Hospitals)
    • Pte Una Mayberry
    • Lieut Edna MeatesRecord Meates Edna
    • Pte Doreen Milliken
    • Pte Hilda Mitchell
    • Sergeant Margaret Moore
    • Lieut Eileen Cecily Mullins (Bowenwho later became Lady Bowen –  had completed her training at the Mater in Waratah in 1933, married Captain Nigel Hubert Bowen after the war in 1947. Lieutenant Mullins enlisted on 21.10.1942 at Concord and served until 8.10.1944.  Nigel, later Sir Nigel Hubert Bowen, became the first Chief Justice of the Australian Federal Court. This was after his departure from the Australian Federal Parliament as a Member for Parramatta, where he had served as Minister for Education and Science, Attorney General and Foreign Affairs Minister. Eileen’s sudden death in 1983, caused a delay in the Lindy Chamberlain trial (Source Senator Robert Hill – Hansard), some years later her widower husband remarried.

      Eileen Mullins - Mrs Bowen

      Lady Bowen (wearing glasses) formerly Thirroul born nurse, Eileen Mullins – Photo Title : Australia-Japan Ministerial Meeting, Canberra, 12-13 October, 1972 : Lady Waller and Sir Keith Waller, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Bowen and Nigel Bowen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, greet Gough Whitlam, Leader of the Opposition, and Mrs Margaret Whitlam – Date : National Archives of Australia 1972 – sourced via Trove

    • Pte Kathleen Nelson
    • Pte Norma Neville
    • Pte Mavis Onions Record Onions Mavis
    • Sisters Edith Ruth Palmer Royal Red Cross Second Class & Joan Palmer, who had trained at Sydney Hospital, were in England at the outbreak of WW2, and so enlisted in the QAIMNS. They served in Malta, Egypt, India and Singapore as well as on Hospital Ships – photos sourced from (Top Left – AWM /  Bottom Left Argus via Trove & Top Right – Argus via Trove.)

       

       

    • Media Stories – 1, 2, 3,
    •  BRAVE NURSE – Illawarra Mercury December 8 1942 – Bulli Girl Receives Medal For Bravery

      “Honour has once more come to the home of Dr. C. K. and Mrs. Palmer, of Bulli) as their younger daughter Ruth has been awarded the Associate Royal Red Cross medal. We understand that Sister   Palmer is the first Australian nurse in this war, to gain such a distinction.

      In the Honours and Awards published in ‘The Times of Malta,’ on November 2nd, 1942, appeared the following: . , “The King has been graciously   pleased to approve of the following award recommended by His Excellency the Governor General and Command er in Chief, C.B.E. Lt. Col. H. ? Gates, R.E.      A.R.R.C., Sister Miss E. R. Palmer, Q.A I.M.N.S. The citation states:— ‘When bombs fell in the vicinity of a hospital one exploded in a ward killing a patient. Miss E. R. Palmer displayed great courage and presence of mind in protecting the helpless patients by covering them’ with mattresses and pillows regardless – of her own safety. Bombs continued to fall near by but she still showed the same coolness, courage and command of the situation while awaiting the stretcherbearers to remove the helpless patients.’   Sister Palmer, with her sister, Joan,has been two years and three months in Malta. The girls were in England  when war broke out and they joined up there.      Their brother, Major E. C. Palmer who received a Commander Certificate   recently for devotion to duty at the time the Japanese invaded Rabaul, where he was stationed; has gained further honours by being promoted to Lt.-Colonel. The friends of Dr. and Mrs. Palmer will rejoice with them, and congratulations trom their South Coast, friends will go forward to these young people.”

      The World of Women – ROYAL RED CROSS AWARDED NURSE AT MALTA –  SYDNEY, Sun: The Argus, Melbourne December 21 1942

      Sister Miss Ruth Palmer, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, daughter , of Dr C. R. Palmer, of Bulli, NSW, has been awarded the Royal Red Cross for bravery during air bombing at Malta. By Royal decree of Queen Alexandra members of the nursing service which bears her name are entitled to use the word Miss after their title of sister.

      The information of decoration was contained in a copy of Times of Malta received by Dr Palmer this week. The citation states: “When bombs fell in the vicinity of a hospital and one exploded in a ward, killing a patient, Miss Palmer displayed great courage and presence of mind in protecting helpless patients by covering them with mat- tresses and pillows regardless of her own safety. Bombs continued to fall near by, but she showed the same coolness and command of the situation while waiting for stretcher bearers to remove the patients.

      Both Sister Miss Ruth Palmer and her sister, Miss Joan Palmer, had been nursing in Malta for over 2 years.

      Ruth Palmer SMH Dec 1942

       

      AWARD FOR BRAVERY

      Sydney Morning Herald – December 22 1942.

      Sister Miss Ruth Palmer. Q.A.I.M.N.S., younger daughter of Dr. C. R. Palmer, of Bulli, N.S.W., who has been awarded the Assoc- ciate Royal Red Cross for bravery during air raids at Malta. With her sister she has been serving at Malta for more than two years.

       

       Women’s News – FROM MALTA TO CAIRO Three Australian Nurses – Sydney Morning Herald May 4 1943

      Three nurses from New South Wales, who trained together at Sydney Hospital, and have been serving together, with the British Army Nursing Service in Malta, are still together on the staff of the No. 1 General Hospital in Egypt.

      Mr. and Mrs. V. P. Bacon, of Rose Bay, have just received a cable from their daughter, Sister Kathleen Bacon, stating that she, Sister Ruth Palmer, R.R.C., and Sister Joan Palmer, both daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Palmer, of Bulli, had been transferred from Malta to Cairo. All three have been serving for two and a half years in Malta, all through the period in which the little island fortress stood up to one of the greatest sieges in history.

      Sister Bacon has had an adventurous career during the war. She has been a prisoner of war on a German liner in the Atlantic, a refugee in Spain and Portugal, had a narrow escape from being torpedoed in the Bay of Biscay, and served in Egypt before taking up duty in Malta in October, 1940.

      M.A.P. Illawarra Mercury May 7 1943 & 

      Sisters Ruth and Joan Palmer, daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Palmer, of Bulli, after two and a half years’ service with the British Army Nursing Service in Malta, have been transferred to Cairo. It will be remembered that last November Sister Ruth Palmer was awarded the A.R.R.C. for devotion to duty during an air raid.

      Week by Week South Coast Times & Wollongong Argus May 7 1943

      Three N.S.W. nurses who train ed together at Sydney hospital, and who served with the British Army Nursing Service in Malta, are still together in the No. 1 Gen eral hospital at Carlo. They are Sister Kathleen Bacon, Sister Ruth Palmer, R.R.C., and Sister Joan Palmer, the latter being the

      daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Palmer, of Bulli. All three served for two and a half years in Malta, all through the period in which that little island fortress stood up to one of the greatest sieges in his tory.

      EXCEPTIONAL WAR EXPERIENCES  – Three Sydney NursesSydney Morning Herald January 6 1945

      Few Australian nurses will have, more interesting tales to   tell of their experiences in this war than three Sydney girls, Sister Kathleen Bacon, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. V. F. Bacon, of Kingsford, formerly of Rose Bay, and Sisters Ruth Palmer, A.R.R.C.,. and Joan Palmer, daughters of Dr. C. R. Palmer, of Bulli. Mr. and Mrs. Bacon received word   recently from their daughter that she hoped to return to Australia in the  near future          

      The three girls, who trained together at Sydney Hospital, served together for two and a half years in Malta, whence they were transferred, to Cairo and later to Egypt where they were on   the staff of No. 1 General Hospital. Now they have just completed more than 30,000 miles on a British hospital ship, on which they travelled with sick and. wounded Indians between Italy and India, and other voyages, which included calls at Basra, on the Euphrates. Mombasa, and Durban.

      Sister Bacon’s story begins with the outbreak of the war. which found her in Germany, and continues with her experiences as a prisoner of war on a German liner in the Atlantic, as a refugee in Spain and Portugal, and with the British Army Nursing Service   In London and in Egypt, before she went to Malta In October, 1940.

      All three nurses have relatives in the Services. The Palmers have two brothers in the A.A.M.C., Lieut.Colonel Edward Palmer and Captain Samuel Palmer. Sister Bacon has three brothers and a younger sister all serving in the forces. One brother Wesley Bacon, has been in the A.I.F. for nearly five vears. in England (1940) Middle East, Tobruk ran?. Syria, and Northern

      Trove Sisters Palmer and Bacon

      SISTER RUTH PALMER. SISTER KATHLEEN BACON, and SISTER JOAN PALMER.        

      Australia: Flying Officer Lindsay Bacon, captain of a Lancaster bomber crew, has been on more than 30 operational flights over Germany: Pilot Officer Allan Bacon has just received his commission in Canada: and Corporal Margaret Bacon has completed three years in the Air Force, first as a wireless operator and later as a direction finder.

      WAR SERVICE OF N.S.WALES NURSES – Sydney Morning Herald April 18 1945 – Five Years Abroad

      After five years’ active service abroad four Australian nurses, who have been with the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service, will arrive in Sydney to-day on nine weeks’ leave in Australia.

      They are Sister Ruth Palmer, R.R.C.. and Sister Joan Palmer, daughters of Dr. and Mrs. C. R. Palmer, of Bulli, Sister Kathleen Bacon, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. V. F. Bacon, of Kingsford, and Sister Zeryl Joseph, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. Joseph, of Bondi.

      The Palmer sisters and Sister Bacon trained together at Sydney Hospital,served together for two and a half years in Malla, and later on the staff of No. 1 British General Hospital in Egypt, and they recently completed more than 30,000 miles on a British hospital ship in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

      Sister Bacon’s adventures include experiences as a prisoner of war on  a German liner in the Atlantic in the early days of the war and as a refugee in Spain and Portugal.

      Sister Joseph, who also trained at Sydney Hospital, had been in Eng- land for three months when war broke out, and. she enlisted with the Q.A.I.M.N.S. Her war service includes three years in the Middle East and 18 months in Italy with the 8th Army, where she was attached to forward casualty clearing stations. In October of last year Sister Joseph contracted malaria, and was a patient herself for the first time in five and a half years.

      M.A.P.  Illawarra Mercury April 20 1945   – see also South Coast Times & Wollongong Argus April 20 1945

      “A wide circle of friends on the South Coast are rejoicing with Dr. and Mrs. C. R. Palmer, of Bulli, who on Wednesday welcomed home their two daughters, Sister Ruth Palmer,R.R.C., and Sister Joan Palmer, after five years’ active service abroad. These two gallant women saw service in Malta for two and a half years, and, were later on the staff of the No. 1 British General Hospital in  Egypt. Recently they completed more than 30,000 miles on a British hospital ship in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

      Also arriving tomorrow are Sister Doris Keech and her twin, Sister Olive Keech, who have been absent from Australia for nine years, and Sister Beatrice Heard, of Haberfield.”

      Sydney Morning Herald June 28 1946

      Sister Ruth Palmer, Royal Red Cross, and Sister Joan Palmer, of Bulli, who were with her (Sister Kathleen Bacon) in Malta and Egypt, are at present in Singapore.

    • Lieut Gertrude Parkinson
    • Lieut Jean PearceRecord Pearce Jean
    • Pte Flora Rae
    • Pte Judith Reeves
    • Lieut Phoebe Richardson
    • Pte Jean Marion Robertson – NFX193228 (N455784, NX193228) – Nominal Roll Listing
    • Pte Mary RobsonRecord Robson Mary
    • Cpl Elizabeth Searl
    • Lieut Josephine Smith – did her training at Wollongong Hospital – 2/5th AGH
    • Pte Mavis Soley
    • Lieut Ethel Stalker
    • Lance Corp Jessie Souter
    • Pte Raema Townsend
    • Lieut Phyllis VickersRecord In 1942 – 1943 she served on the Oranje – a Netherlands ship used as the main Australian Hospital Ship in WW2 – in the Middle East, Indian and Pacific WW2 campaigns. It had been the largest ship in the world before WW2 and was used in 1942 to bring wounded soldiers home from the Middle East – and also in September 1945 transporting released 8th Division Prisoners of War from Singapore. During the war Phyllis married Captain K J Eager of 106 Australian General Hospital at Bonegilla.Vickers Phyllis
    • Lieut Jean Walker
    • Sister Dora Ellenor Warrington – she was perhaps the only Illawarra nurse who had served in both WW1 and WW2 – serving with the Australia Army Nursing Service in WW1 and the QAIMNS in WW2. She had attended Unanderra Public School where she was noted for her academic and sporting performance – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,  7, 8, 9 . She also assisted in her local church’s fundraising – 1.The Life of Melbourne – Vesta Junior’s Mirror of the Day –  Friday Night -The Argus Melbourne August 18 1945
    • Looking up from my typewriter this morning I found a member of the British Queen Alexandra Nursing Service in my office doorway. She was Sister Dora Maxwell, of Sydney, who is spending 61 days’ leave in Melbourne with her sister. With four other Australian members of the QA Service, they are on home leave, and came out here from Italy on a Dutch hospital ship. Sister Maxwell came in to see me specially to place on record her appreciation of the help she and her colleagues received from the Red Cross when they arrived in Melbourne. None of them had been able to notify their relatives they were coming, and were dreading having to find accommodation when they arrived and arrange transport. To their delight the Red Cross did everything for them, taking them to the Lady Dugan Hostel, looking after their luggage, and providing transport.”Detail (WW1) – Service Record (WW1) – enlisting in 1917 when she served in a military hospital in Canberra – believed to be the Federal Hospital.
    • South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus Friday 21 December 1917 – In presenting Nurse Warrington with a surgical instrument, the Mayor said he was very pleased to be amongst those present to extend a hearty send-off to the first nursing sister from Unanderra. He was sure Nurse Warrington was prepared to do her duty and that her example would be followed by many others; that the return to health of thousands of sick and wounded was due to the care of the nurses and doctors, and that the good done by them would not be known until the war was over, and its history written up.  In closing his remarks, the Mayor said he classed as cowards — absolute cowards— all who failed to do their duty in this time of the country’s peril. Rev. Godson, Ald. Gorrell, Mr. Geo. Lindsay, J. Brown (Unanderra Public School), and others also spoke. Mr. J. Warrington, in returning thanks on behalf of Nurse Warrington, said his two sons were at the war; one of his daughters was going now, and two more had signified their intention to go, which would leave him and Mrs. Warrington with only one of their family at home; and she was too young. Subsequently she embarked for  overseas in October 1918
      Illawarra Mercury Wollongong NSW Friday 20 December 1918
    • NURSE WARRINGTON. Nurse Dora Warrington, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. .T. Warrington, who sailed for the front early in October last, is being returned home along with the other nurses who embarked at the same time.South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus Friday 20 December 1918
      Nurse Dora Warrington, who volunteered as a nurse, and sailed for the front in October last, is returning. The boat on which ail the nurses are is at present quarantined at Albany, but there are no influenza cases, aboard.
    • Dora  had returned by May 1919  but within several weeks was “engaged nursing influenza cases in Sydney, got a slight attack herself.  She is now at home recuperating.” – Illawara Mercury Friday 23 May 1919 this was possibly the Randwick Military Hospital 
    • She had  received a gold signet ring after her return – July 1919more.
    • In 1920 Dora opened,or operated, a hospital in St John’s Rd Glebe, Sydney ie Ayshleigh Private Hospital with Katie Rees. Dora left this in 1923 and  married James Foote Maxwell – however returned to Nursing, sometime after his 1933 death in Perth Western Australia. Later Dora travelled to England in 1935, where she is believed to have been nursing before joining the QAIMNS in WW2. She was living in London till 1952 when she returned to Sydney and continued nursing – died 1979 in NSW.
    • Pte Jane Watson
    • Pte Jocelyn White

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