Australia's World War 1 Nurses

There were 2139 Australian nurses who served overseas in the First World War, 25 died, 388 were decorated, 7 were awarded Miltary Medals for courage under fire.

Prior to Australia's Federation in 1901, each colony controlled its own defence force, of which the nursing services formed a part. In July 1903 the nursing services of each colony joined together to form the Australian Army Nursing Service. The Service, which was part of the Australian Army Medical Corps, was made up of volunteer trained nurses who were willing to serve in times of a national emergency.

At the outbreak of World War I nurses were recruited from both the Army nursing service and the civilian workforce. They served at field and base hospitals in Australia as well as in Egypt, England, France, Belgium, Greece, Salonika, Palestine, Mesopotamia and India.

Conditions were harsh for Nurses in World War 1

The conditions for Australian Nurses in World War 1 were primitive and harsh, the working conditions and hours, but also the living quarters. Here is a photo of the Nurses quarters in Rabual WW1 Nurses living quarters
Often working up to 18 hours per day, and many falling ill themselves, the Australian Nurses who served in World War 1 were certainly deserving of the accolades we now show them. Often referred to as the Frontline Angels there are many stories of outstanding valour.

Australian WW1 Nurses in Uniform in Egypt

A group of Australian Nurses in Uniform from Egypt in World War 1

Nellie Gould and Julia Johnston -again!

When War broke out in 1911 their experience as Army nurses in the Boer war gave Matron Nellie Gould and Sister Julia Bligh Johnston invaluable knowledge and understanding to be able to lead Australia’s first contingent of nurses bound for Europe in World War I. They were two of seven Australian Nurses awarded the Military Medal. You can read more about Nellie Gould here

Nursing in World War 1

Nurses from World War 1

Stories from enemy lines

Helen Tate

Sister Helen Elizabeth Tate was awarded the Royal Red Cross for her bravery in World War 1. She enlisted in the AIF as a Sister on 21 November 1914, serving in Egypt and France. Helen Tate returned to Australia on 8 December 1918, with the rank of Head Sister. On her return to Australia she was appointed Matron of the Repatriation Hospital, Caulfield, Melbourne and subsequently became Senior Matron at Melbourne Grammar School 1926-1940. She died on 26 November 1976.

Esther Barnett

Esther Barnett was known to ANZAC soldiers as “Mother Anzac” for her wrok tending the wounded after the battles in Gallipoli. In World war 1 she did a tour of duty with the AIF after enlisting at age 57 (she 'forgot' 10 years of her age on her papers) and then she signed up for another tour!

Alice Ross King

Sister Alys Ross trained and worked in The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, her Mother did not approve of her vocational choice and was further shocked when in 1914,with the onset of war, she decided to change her name to Alice Ross-King and enlist in the Australian Imperial Force. Alice Ross-King showed outstanding bravery and courage and was awarded the Royal Red cross and Military medal. Read more about Alice Ross-King

Australian Army Nursing Service
Pledge of Service

I pledge myself loyally
to serve my King and Country
and to maintain the honour and efficiency
of the Australian Army Nursing Service.
I will do all in my power
to alleviate the suffering of
the sick and wounded, sparing no
effort to bring them comfort of body
and peace of mind.
I will work in unity and
comradeship with my fellow nurses.
I will be ready to give assistance
to those in need of my help,,br> and will abstain from any action
which may bring sorrow
and suffering to others.
At all times I will endeavour
to uphold the highest traditions of
Womanhood and of the Profession
of which I am Part.