Alice Jane Thompson

Alice Jane Thompson of Balgownie enlisted as a nurse at the age of 23. She subsequently embarked from Sydney aboard RMS Mooltan on 9 June, 1917.[1]

Alice Jane Thompson

Alice Jane Thompson

The following extracts come from the Illawarra Mercury after her departure:

Nurse. Thompson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs T. Thompson, Balgownie, is now en route for Salonika to take up duties in the military hospital there.[2]

Nurses at the front – Information received from Nurse A. Thompson shows that forty of the three hundred nurses who left Australia on the ill-fated Mooltan were selected to proceed to Salonika, she being one of them. She states that most of the cases so far are sickness owing to the terrible heat, which is bad at this time of the year. However, she is satisfied with her lot and says she is not sorry that she came and if she had to choose over again she would do the same, as too much cannot be done for the boys who are fighting and bleeding for us all.[3]

Records state that Nurse Thompson was kept in quarantine due to influenza. She married Dr Theo Allen in England, 16 January 1919 which resulted in her discharge from the AANS; they then returned to Australia.

Nurse Thompson1

Apart from receiving the British War and Victory medals, Alice Thompson was awarded a Greek Medal for Military Merit. [4]

A letter was written by her mother to the Base Records Office which states that, Alice Jane Thompson died on 6 June 1922 and was buried at Wollongong.

 

 

 

 

NAA: B2455, Thompson A J


[1] Australian War Memorial, First World War Embarkation Rolls – Alice Jane Thompson, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/person/R1985185/&gt;, viewed 12 February 2014.

[2] ‘The Searchlight,’ Illawarra Mercury, 15 June 1917, p2.

[3] ‘District News – Balgownie,’ Illawarra Mercury, 26 October 1917 p5.

[4] Australian War Memorial, Honours and Awards – Alice Jane Thompson, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/honours_and_awards/person/R1536305/?roll_type=Awards >, viewed 12 February 2014.

Agnes Alexina McRae Jolly

Agnes Alexina McRae Jolly was 31 years of age and head nurse at Bulli Hospital when she enlisted on 16 June, 1915. She joined the 1st Australian General Hospital and the Illawarra Mercury subsequently printed an article:

Nurse for the front- Sister Jolly, of the nursing staff of the Bulli Hospital, left on Tuesday to go as a nurse to the front. During her residence here she made many friends, and her nursing abilities were highly spoken of.[1]

The NAA records state that she partook in training for three years at the Coast-Hospital, Sydney and held medical and surgical nursing certificates.

Nurse Jolly fell susceptible to illness quite often, particularly on ships due to the rapid spread of disease; she was even given three months leave due to paratyphoid.

She was discharged on 14 June, 1918 and returned to Australia 6 August, 1918 and was subsequently awarded with the Star, British War and Victory medals for her service.

Nurse Jolly died on 20 July, 1952. Her address at the time was Snails Bay NSW; this is a modern suburb name for the house where her parents lived, therefore, it is possible she was living at her parents’ house at the time of her death.

NAA: B2455, JOLLY AGNES ALEXINA MCRAE


[1] ‘Bulli-Woonona,’ Illawarra Mercury, 11 June 1915, p.2.

Dorothy Gwendolen Cawood

Dorothy Gwendolen Cawood was born on December 9, 1884 in Parramatta.[1] She was the seventh child of carpenter, John Cawood and his English-born wife, Sarah Travis Garnett (nee).[2] She commenced her nursing training in 1909 and subsequently registered with the Australasian Trained Nurses’ Association on 14 May 1913.[3]

On November 14, 1914, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and subsequently embarked. On July 22, 1917 whilst part of 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station at Armentieres, Dorothy, along with sisters Clare Decon and Alice Ross-King, evacuated patients from burning buildings during a bomb attack. All three sisters were awarded Military Medals for their valiant rescue.[4] When stationed at the 6th Australian General Hospital, Dorothy was mentioned in dispatches for “distinguished and gallant service in the field”.[5] [6] Not long after, Sister Cawood was transferred to the 38th Stationary Hospital, Genoa, Italy. She was hospitalised with tonsillitis for a few months in 1918 but her service in Genoa lasted until January 1919.[7] After that, she was transferred to England where she was attached to the 3rd and 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospitals at Dartford.[8]

Sister Cawood returned to Sydney in May 1919 and successively joined the nursing staff at Liverpool State Hospital. In 1928 became matron at the David Berry Hospital, Berry; she kept the position until her retirement in 1943. In 1944, she moved back to her old home in Parramatta and died on 16 February 1962.[9]

Dorothy was awarded with a ‘Military Medal.’


[1] Abbot, Jacqueline, Cawood, Dorothy Gwendolen (1884-1962), Australian Dictionary of Biography- Australian National University, 1979, <http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0419b.htm&gt; , viewed 15 January 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid

[5] AWM, Honours and Awards- Dorothy Gwendolen Cawood, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/honours_and_awards/person/R1518975/?roll_type=Awards&gt; viewed 8 January 2014.

[6]Australian War Memorial, People profiles: Sister Dorothy Gwendolen Cawood MM, AWM Canberra, 2013, < http://www.awm.gov.au/people/1078495.asp >, viewed 22 January, 2014.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Abbot, Jacqueline, Cawood, Dorothy Gwendolen (1884-1962), Australian Dictionary of Biography- Australian National University, 1979, <http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0419b.htm&gt; , viewed 15 January 2014.

Nurse Wakeford

Muriel Leontine Wakeford was born in 1887 at Bathurst, NSW. She was a nurse by occupation, trained in Sydney and was one of the youngest nurses in the war at the time. Muriel enlisted as a Staff Nurse and embarked from Sydney in November 1914 on HMAT Kyarra, A55;[1] at the time she was living on Crown St, Wollongong. Muriel attained the rank of ‘Sister’ only four days after enlisting.

WAKEN-03

Nurse Muriel Wakeford

She kept a diary where she recollected her day and wrote down events during her time as a war nurse. She kept record from the beginning of her involvement:

A momentous day indeed. At 4pm we pushed off from Circular Quay amidst wild enthusiasm and also a terrific storm. The ferry boats all saluted, the crowd cheered and I felt pretty miserable. My first experience at sea. The night was wild indeed – three sea men were knocked over by the elements and one had to be operated on next morning. I was fortunate enough to be able to assist at the operation. Unique experience at sea. (November 24th Wednesday, 1914)

She continued writing during her time in the war.

The wounded came down to the shore in an endless stream. Accommodation on the hospital ship Gascon soon gave out. After that occurred there seemed to be no one in charge of direction wounded men to any one ship in particular…” Sister Muriel Wakeford, Diary, 25 April 1915.[2]

On April 24, the day before the Anzac landing, Muriel Wakeford and Ella Jane Tucker were originally aboard the hospital ship, Cecilia in Murdos Harbour but due to a change of plan the nurses were told to board another hospital ship, the Gascon.

Nurse Wakeford relaxing on "Gascon."

Nurse Wakeford relaxing on “Gascon.”

The hospital ship, Gascon was overcrowded with only 400 beds and no other hospital ships available. The Gascon received seriously wounded men and well as the ‘walking wounded’ who often assisted with other injured soldiers boarding the ship. The nurses and staff worked flat out dressing wounds and removing fragments of shrapnel and bullets.[3]

As part of her duties, Wakeford and the other nurses administered morphine and gave the patients as much as they needed without seeking a doctor’s permission unlike the standard practice in civilian hospitals.[4] They spent their time treating the soldiers as best they could, feeding and washing their wounds. Any spare moment was taken up by preparing the wards and equipment for the next influx of soldiers. In a letter to her parents, Muriel wrote that in April at Gaba Tepe, there were over forty deaths in a three day trip.

Nurses, including Wakeford upon the hospital ship, "Gascon."

Nurses, including Wakeford upon the hospital ship, “Gascon.”

Muriel was a prolific writer and sent pleas to the Illawarra Mercury for more Australian doctors and nurses to enlist. This was published although censorship was enforced. Her revealing letter written in mid-May published in the Illawarra Mercury described the terrible wounds inflicted on the Anzacs due to the use of “dum dum” bullets. The revealing article subsequently caused a stir in the district. Although the editor knew he could face prosecution for breaching the War Precautions Act, he published the letter in the public’s interest.[5] She continued writing letters which continued to be published regularly. An example below was published on 11 June 1915.

With the wounded

Although all the nurses were warned that fraternising with the officers was forbidden, she fell in love with Lieutenant Sergeant. The romance was omitted from her diary and was kept a secret on ship as it would have resulted in trouble for both of them. Muriel married Ray Sergeant at East London and as a result, resigned from her position as ‘Staff Nurse.’  Her diary entries ceased at the end December 1915.  She officially resigned from the AANS on 27 June 1916.

Wakeford

One of her last diary entries reveals her trip home to Australia:

Up at 5am when we were just opposite Botany Heads. Go alongside Woolloomooloo Wharf at 9.30am. A band played “Home Sweet Home” just as we were getting alongside. A big crowd greeted us. We left for Wollongong at 4.50pm. When we arrived a big crowd met up at the station and cheered heartily as the train steamed in. Escorted us home in motor cars (19 October, 1915).

Muriel and her husband lived in Kenya for a time as Ray was a harbour master at Mombasa. Later, they returned to London, England where Muriel lived for remainder of her life. She returned to Australia on one occasion with her son so that he could meet her mother and the rest of the family. In Australia, she petitioned Canberra for her war medals which were ultimately forwarded to her.[6] She died in England in 1965.

Muriel Wakeford is linked to a local soldier, Oliver Heard who became her brother-in-law in 1919 when he married her sister, Vera Wakeford.

The information provided has been passed on by Muriel’s family. Her letters published by the  Illawarra Mercury can be accessed through microfilm archives which are currently available to all at Wollongong Library. Susanna De Vries has published a book, Australian Heroines of World War One: Gallipoli which is a well-researched account of Nurse Wakeford.


[1] Australian War Memorial, First World War Embarkation Rolls – Muriel Wakeford, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, <http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/person/R1813433/&gt;, viewed 2 October 2013.

[2] S De Vries, Australian Heroines of World War One: Gallipoli, Lemmos and the Western Front, Pigros Press, Brisbane, 2013, p. 66.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid p. 86.

[6] J Duffy, ‘Tales of a World War I heroine,’ Illawarra Mercury, April 21 2013, available from http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/1446493/tales-of-a-world-war-i-heroine/, viewed October 9, 2013.
Australian War Memorial, Australian Imperial Force – Nominal Roll, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 2013 <http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm8/26/66/awm8-26-66-1-0132.pdf&gt;, viewed 2 October, 2013.

Australian War Memorial, First World War Embarkation Rolls – Muriel Wakeford, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, <http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/person/R1813433/&gt;, viewed 2 October 2013.

De Vries, S, Australian Heroines of World War One: Gallipoli, Lemmos and the Western Front, Pigros Press, Brisbane, 2013.

Duffy, J, ‘Tales of a World War I heroine,’ Illawarra Mercury, April 21 2013, available from http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/1446493/tales-of-a-world-war-i-heroine/, viewed October 9, 2013.