Australian Army Nurses on the Western Front WW1

The photograph above is of Sister Martha Ann King.

Sister King was born at Kensington, South Australia. She trained at the Adelaide Hospital. Sister King enlisted on the 6th of August 1915 and served in Lemnos, Egypt, England and on the field in France.

She became sick with diphtheria in November 1915, and in 1918 became sick with influenza and pneumonia. She caught influenza again in February 1919.

Sister King returned to Australia on the 4th of July 1919.

Sister King’s photograph is also included in the video below titled ‘You never came home’.

The video below entitled ‘You never came home’ is a memorial to the Australians who died on the Western Front in WW1. From 1916 to 1918, nearly half of all Australians that died in all wars and battles (including WW2), died on the Western Front in less than two and a half years. The image you see for the video are Australian stretcher bearers and dressers lying utterly exhausted in the mud after 60 hours without rest.  Lest We Forget.

Western Front WW1.

The Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) was formed in 1903.

2139 Australian Army nurses served abroad in WW1, of whom 25 died.

They attended to all wounded Australians in all major campaigns, including Lemnos Island (off Gallipoli), Egypt, Salonika (Greece), England, France and Belgium.

Besides working in hospitals, the nurses served in casualty clearing stations near the front line and on hospital ships and trains.

On the Western Front nurses suffered from severe infections, especially to their hands, from the festering and discharging wounds they treated.

The nurses also caught the diseases of the trenches like measles, mumps, typhus, influenza and dysentery. Some nurses were wounded from shrapnel.

The photograph on the left (above on a mobile phone) is of Sister Norma Violet Mowbray.

She enlisted on the 11th of November 1914, Brisbane, Queensland and served with the Australian Army Nursing Service. Her unit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A55 Kyarra on the 21st of December 1914.

Sister Mowbray was one of the first to offer her services. She was stationed at the 1st Australian Hospital, Heliopolis, where she contracted bronchitis. Sister Mowbray died of pneumonia in Cairo, Egypt, on the 21st of January 1916, aged 32 years. She is buried at the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.

It is written that Sister Mowbray was one of the most successful nurses in her profession before enlisting, but she felt she could help others at the Front and so she put her career aside and gave her life in the service of nursing wounded and sick soldiers.

Many Australian civilian nurses volunteered for active service during WW1, working with other organisations, such as the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), the Red Cross, or privately sponsored facilities.

Nurses worked long hours and in shocking conditions and the women witnessed first-hand the suffering of countless lives in the horror of the Western Front.

Unlike any war Australia has fought in before or since, the Western Front took 46,000 Australian lives in just over two years and wounded or gassed over 132,000 more. Many soldiers being wounded more than once. Australia’s casualty rate was around 65 per cent and was the highest in the British Empire.

The words to ‘You never came home’ on the video above were wrtten by Peter Barnes the author of ‘Can You Hear Australia’s Heroes Marching?’ Music is Chopin’s Funeral March. Photographs from the Australian War Memorial.

You can download the words to ‘You never came home’ HERE

Australian Paintings – Series of paintings of Australians in war time by Peter Barnes.