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Mary Elizabeth Maude CHOMLEY, O.B.E.








Mary Elizabeth Maude CHOMLEY, O.B.E.

Australian Red Cross, Prisoners of War Department, London



[Note: In some sources Miss Chomley is referred to as Elizabeth Chomley, but as most of the information available on her in the newspapers uses her first name of Mary, I have chosen to stay with that.  Photo courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.]



LONDON 1918: “Miss Mary Chomley, a daughter of the late Judge Chomley, of Melbourne, and head of the Prisoners of War Department of the Australian Red Cross.  A woman of great public spirit, Miss Chomley knows more about Australian prisoners of war than anybody else, and it is largely due to her personality and enthusiasm that our Red Cross Prisoners of War Department has earned the reputation of being not only the best-managed but the most human of any such existing organization in London.”


“By most people in Melbourne Miss Mary Chomley will be remembered as a public-spirited Australian, but to more than 3,000 men of the A.I.F., and to those civilians in London, who have seen her work as head of the prisoners of war department, she is something more than that, and not only by her unselfish devotion, but by her tact and kindliness, and her broad and human outlook, she has made for herself a unique place in their regard.  Red tape and the curt official methods which every soldier so bitterly resents had no place in her regime, and the letters which, as the sponsor for their friends at home, she wrote to these boys in captivity, did more for them, perhaps, than anyone will ever know.”


“One of our commissioners asked Quartermaster-Sergeant Edwards, of the 51st Australian Infantry Battalion, who was severely wounded, and captured in the battle of the Somme in 1916, and who has just escaped from Germany, if the Australian prisoners in Germany had any message to send home?  This is the answer.  “Please tell Miss Chomley, head of the Prisoners’ of War Department, of the Australian Red Cross, that the Australians in the German prison camps, cannot speak highly enough of her, and her work.  They cannot be grateful enough for the inexhaustible love, and sympathy, and patience, with which she and her staff, listen to all our men’s whims and fancies.”


“It wasn’t only the Australians who talked about her, all the camp did, and when there was a mail in, they’d come rushing round – English Tommies, South Africans, Frenchies, and the whole lot – to know if there were any letters from Miss Chomley.  I can tell you she was a sort of queen.”






Mary Elizabeth Maud CHOMLEY was born on the 29th of July 1871 at The Springs in Malvern, Victoria.  The first-born daughter of Arthur and Juliana CHOMLEY, she was named after her paternal grandmother.

Her parents Arthur Wolfe CHOMLEY and Juliana Charlotte HOGG had married at St John’s Church, Toorak, Victoria on the 4th September 1867, and altogether they had nine children, including two sons who died in infancy.


Arthur Wolfe CHOMLEY had been born in Wicklow, Ireland on the 4th of May 1837, and after the death of his father Francis, his mother (Mary Elizabeth nee GRIFFITHS) emigrated to Australia with her 7 sons, arriving in 1849.


Arthur, a Judge, at one time presided over the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria.

In 1889, he had the homestead ‘Dromkeen’ built at Riddle’s Creek.  It was so named, to maintain a connection with his mother’s family home in Tipperary.  This grand old homestead is now a museum that houses the ‘Dromkeen Collection of Australian Children’s Literature’.

It was at Riddle’s Creek that Mary’s mother Juliana died on the 14th of August 1896, at the age of 47.  Her father Arthur died at his home in Bruce St, Toorak on the 25th of November 1914, aged 77.






Mary was in England when she received the news of her father’s death.  She had embarked in Melbourne on the 2nd of June 1914 on the Maloja, with the intention of spending 12 months overseas.  Travelling with her were the two Grice sisters who she was acting as chaperone for.


A month after her arrival in London, war was declared, altering any plans to return home.  Early in 1915 her two youngest sisters Eileen and Aubrey joined her.


At the time of her departure from Australia Mary had been the Honorary Secretary of the Victoria League of Victoria, and well-known for her charitable and social work in Melbourne.  She had also been one of the founders and the first secretary, of the Arts and Crafts Society.


In London she did not sit still, and it was soon noted that she was working hard in the Empire’s cause; spending every morning and two afternoons a week teaching English to the Belgian refugees, while two more afternoons involved giving crochet lessons to poor women in the East End of London.


In July she was doing voluntary work at the Robert Lindsay Memorial Hospital, filling in for another Australian volunteer, Alice Fisken, while she was on holiday in Ireland for a month.  This work may have involved such tasks as kitchen and scullery duties, the mending of linen, and fetching and carrying for cooks and nurses.

Mary then crossed to France to help out at Lady Mabelle Egerton’s canteen, which was known as the Rouen Station Coffee Shop, and supplied just about everything the soldiers could wish for.  As it was kept open day and night for the convenience of the soldiers passing through, the work involved was very strenuous and so the helpers were changed every quarter.

Returning to London Mary then began work in the December as Housekeeper, superintending the domestic staff at the newly opened Princess Christian’s Hospital for Officers in Grosvenor Place.  Consisting of 25 beds and run solely by volunteers, the hospital boasted a Melbourne Ward, furnished and equipped by Mrs Susan Smith of Melbourne.


July 1916 saw the establishment of the Australian Red Cross Prisoners of War Department in London.  The initial setting up of the department was carried out by Miss Kathleen O’Connor, but as the number of prisoners of war increased, so did the workload which in turn necessitated extra staff and Mary was asked to join the organization, with the role of Superintendent / Secretary once she had grasped the details of its operation.


The main purpose of the department was to supply the prisoners with as many comforts as possible during their incarceration.  This involved the distribution of thousands of parcels throughout the war, containing food, clothing and other necessities.


As well as overseeing the department, Mary took charge of the selection of food for the food parcels, and was responsible for writing to every new prisoner of war and replying to all correspondence received from the men.  The following letter which was sent to each prisoner of war in 1917, gives a fairly good idea of the workings of the department at that time.


Extracts of a letter Mary wrote to all the prisoners of war in 1917:

“I think you would all like to know who is helping in the Prisoners of War Department, as I have no doubt that many of you will know some of them, or some members of their family, and you will feel you are being looked after by friends.

“Money Affairs – These are looked after by Mrs Mordaunt Reid, of Western Australia, whose husband has been ‘missing’ since Gallipoli, ….  She and I choose your food, so when you get something you do not like you know who is to blame.  She is helped with the accounts by Miss McCall, of Sydney, and Miss Mary Murdoch, whose father is the Commissioner of the Australian Red Cross, and is a well-known Sydney business man.  Miss Murdoch, among other duties, goes through all the P.O. and American express receipts every week, name by name, to see that no one has been omitted.  That is how we know every parcel has really gone, so if it does not reach its destination it is not our fault.

“The addresses are all kept by Miss Ruth Oliver, whose father was President of the Land Appeal Court in Sydney.  She knows all your names, numbers and addresses by heart, and goes through all your postcards each day, to see who has been moved.  The actual addressing is done by Miss Agnes Edwards – Sydney again – and a number of helpers who come two or three days a week to do it.  ………………………

Your letters that come to us are re-addressed by Mrs Kelty, wife of Dr Kelty, of Sydney, and Mrs H.R. Lysaght, of Sydney.  Miss Wagner, of Melbourne, files all the letters, and she is often complaining that I write too many!

“The clothing part is looked after by Mrs W.H. Sargood, of Geelong, Victoria, helped in the clerical part by Miss Ethel Bage, of Melbourne (whose brother went to the South Pole with Dr Mawson, and was afterwards killed at Gallipoli), and Miss Dorothea Moore, daughter of Mr W.D. Moore, of Fremantle.  This latter lady is going to look after the packing of your tobacco in future, and I hope it will be a little more satisfactory than it has been in the past.  The addressing of these parcels is done by Mrs Tom Skene, of Eynesbury, Melton, Victoria, and Lady Bosanquet, whose husband used to be Governor of South Australia.  The actual packing of the clothes is done by the two Miss Fiskens, of Melbourne, and Lady Howse, wife of General Sir Neville Howse, V.C., whom many of you will know.  The only man who is allowed to help in this department is Pte Rowlands, of Ballarat, who is always called Rowley, and I daresay is known to many of you by that name.

“Miss O’Connor, daughter of Mr Justice O’Connor, of the High Court in Australia, who was in my place at first, has now gone over to nurse in a French military hospital.  Lastly, I must not omit a very important lady, who I am afraid will be very tired of typing out this long letter, Mrs Pegler, who helps me with the correspondence.”


At some stage during the war Mary’s sister Eileen was also involved in work at the POW Department.

In spite of her enormous work load at the department, Mary still managed to find time to look into the arts and crafts work going on in England, and in 1917 wrote an account to the Vice President of the Arts and Crafts Society in Australia.


Mary’s work for the Australian prisoners of war did not go unnoticed, and in March 1918 she received the honour of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.).

In the second half of 1918 a committee was formed in London to gather information on all the British soldiers who had survived their captivity in Asia Minor.  This was called the Prisoners in Turkey Committee, and Mary was Australia’s representative on the executive.


Long before the signing of the armistice as the first of the prisoners began to be released from Germany, Mary, who was also the head of the Welfare Committee of the Returned Australian Prisoners of War, was there to meet them as they arrived in London.  The tasks of the department were then extended to include caring for the new arrivals, entertaining them to tea, finding them suitable accommodation, and generally spoiling them in every way possible.  Later as they returned in large contingents and were placed in concentration camps in Yorkshire and Dover, Mary also made a point of visiting the camps.


On the eve of closing the department in April 1919 the Red Cross gave Mary a party; a small affair, with her co-workers and a few repatriated Officers still in London, in attendance.  As a token of affection, her staff presented her with a bunch of roses and carnations, a little leather case containing their signatures, and a silver salver.












With the war over Mary took on a new task, and temporarily leaving her sisters at their flat at 20A Oakley St, Chelsea, she boarded the Ulysses for return to Australia.  She was travelling as the guide to two Englishwomen, Mrs M.T. Simm and Miss Pughe Jones, as part of a delegation for the Overseas Settlement Committee formed by the British Government.  The object of their mission was to inquire into employment opportunities for English women desirous of emigrating to Australia, and report back to the government on their findings.


Arriving on the 2nd of September 1919, they then spent the following 5 to 6 months visiting both city and country towns throughout the country.  During this time Mary of course was also in great demand to talk to various groups about her work during the war.  On one occasion in the October in Brisbane during an informal chat with members at a Red Cross Society meeting, she referred to the Prisoners of War Fund, stating that “parcels were sent to about 3200 Australian prisoners in Germany, 150 in Turkey, and three in Austria.  Six parcels a month had been sent to each individual in Germany and one a fortnight to each man in Turkey, …...  She mentioned the large amount of detail and the accuracy with which the parcels were despatched, and followed the owner round from one camp to another.”


Before leaving Sydney in the November, Mary visited the Soldiers’ Club on the afternoon of the 18th, to bid farewell to all returned prisoners of war in attendance.

Before she could leave their shore, Western Australian Prisoners of War also arranged a social gathering for Mary, at which she was presented with an illuminated address full of gratitude, which included the words: “In our adversity you came to us radiating sunshine and bestowing gifts that were always treasured, so hope and courage were born anew.”

Their mission completed, Mary and her delegation embarked at Fremantle on the Indarra on the 24th of February 1920 for their return to England.


Later that year the three Chomley sisters crossed to France, visiting the battlefields as well as spending some time down south.  In the July and August of 1921 Mary travelled to Normandy and Touraine, while her two sisters were visiting Wales.  1922 saw Mary elected to the executive of the Society for Overseas Settlement of British Women.  Much of 1923 was spent travelling on the Continent as well as England.  During these travels Mary continued her long-held habit of sketching, and recorded scenes of interest in water colour, amassing quite a portfolio of paintings.


In 1925 she paid another visit to Australia, during which time she held an exhibition of her water colour sketches in the November.  The funds raised from the sales totaled £130 which was donated to the Bush Library run by the Victoria League.  It was noted by one critic that Mary “cannot lay claim to great ability, but as notes of travel these sketches have their charm.  Without being a strong draughtsman, she is neat and precise, and manages her perspective sufficiently well.  Her color is not strong, but she puts it on freshly and without pretension.”


In reference to one of her paintings Mary herself commented: “I did that glimpse of Paris from the window of a hospital run during the war by two Australian women, Dr Helen Sexton and the late Mrs William Smith.  “They dubbed me ‘The Committee of Amusement,’ I used to go round sketching the men.  I remember doing one good-looking young fellow.  I was rather pleased with the result, and couldn’t understand why there was a shadow of disappointment across his face.  Then suddenly I realized I had left out his medal.  “One moment, monsieur,” I said, “I’ve forgotten your medal.”


On the 17th of December 1925 Mary was honoured at a luncheon party at the Oriental, given by ex-prisoners of war to thank her for all she did for them during their imprisonment.

With her departure imminent, her sister Mrs Julie Morris held a farewell party for her in February 1926 which consisted of many old family friends.  Mary also made time to visit Elcho to see the Government Training Farm, before she eventually boarded the Ascanius on the 27th for her return to England, arriving back in Liverpool on the 15th of April.


By 1927 the three sisters had moved from their flat in Chelsea to Green Gates in Abbey Rd, Chertsey, where they remained until their departure for Australia at the end of 1933.


During these years Mary was involved in the branch of the women’s institute in nearby Virginia Water, and the chairman of the local women’s section of the British Legion.  She also maintained her involvement with the Victoria League, of which she was a committee member, and was well known for extending hospitality to visiting Australians by putting them in touch with interesting people and places, and organizing group outings for them to keep their cost of travel low.

Early in 1933 Mary presented the idea that the Victoria League’s contribution to the forthcoming Melbourne Centenary celebrations, should take the form of an Early Victorian exhibition.  The King and Queen consented to loan some of Queen Victoria’s personal relics for the exhibition, and before leaving London, Mary visited the Victoria rooms at Kensington Palace with the Dowager Countess of Jersey, who founded the Victoria League, to choose these.


Together with her sisters Eileen and Aubrey, Mary departed England on the 1st of December 1933, travelling on the Mongolia for their return home to Australia.  She carried with her a Centenary gift for the State of Victoria, which at her suggestion was being presented by the head of a London Bookseller.  This was an ancient and historically valuable Geneva version of the Bible, believed to have been published in 1589.


Arriving in Melbourne on the 8th January 1934, the sisters at first stayed at the South Yarra home of Lady Moore, before taking a flat in Punt Hill, South Yarra, while they waited to take possession of the house they had bought at 9 Washington St, Toorak.  During March Mary was hospitalized with a serious attack of influenza, and the sisters finally moved into their new home in the May.


Mary’s ambition had been to hold the Victorian exhibition in a house of early Victorian character, but the search having proved fruitless, it was opened in a hall of the Commonwealth Bank building in Collins Street on the 8th of October.  A great success, attracting thousands of visitors, the closing date was extended from the 6th of November to the 17th, with the proceeds benefiting the Victoria League’s bush library.


The following year Mary organized another exhibition entitled “Fair and Famous Women” which was opened on the 26th of August in the Scots Church Hall in Russell Street.  On display were more than 400 portraits, most of them belonging to Mary, and the funds raised went towards the restoration of the St Katherine Church at St Helena.


The three sisters travelled to England again in 1939, leaving Melbourne on the 8th February aboard the Wanganella via New Zealand, where they transshipped to the Tamaroa on the 24th.  Planning to be away for some time, Mary had resigned her position on the committee of the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria.  Their address in England was listed as St Mary’s Home for Waifs and Strays in Newbury, Berkshire, and it can only be assumed that they were doing their bit to help the children.


Once again Mary was in England when war was declared in the September.  This time however, she didn’t remain there during the war years, but instead the sisters flew home, arriving early in January 1940, and settled back into their home in Toorak.

One of the last gatherings Mary attended before leaving England was the opening of the Victoria League's Club for Overseas Soldiers, and she noted that it would make an ideal "home away from home" for men on leave.


Settling into war work once again, Mary loaned her reproductions of masterpieces to the French Red Cross for an exhibition in May, to raise money to assist refugees from Alsace.  Then in June she was busy with Victoria League work.  Following the decision to set up a Hospitality Bureau at Air Force House, she was supervising the compilation of a list of 500 hostesses who were willing to provide hospitality to inter-State and country members of the R.A.A.F.


She also found time on the 20th of June to speak at a Victoria League Club tea on “A Trip by Air From England During War-time.”

Not neglecting the Arts and Crafts Society, she was responsible for the arrangement of the programme for their National Costumes exhibition held in September.


On the second anniversary (1942) of the opening of the Victoria League hospitality bureau at Air Force House, it was noted that 115,000 men had so far received hospitality through the bureau, an average of 1200 men each week.  Under Mary’s direction as chairwoman, 27 League members were working voluntarily at the bureau on three shifts a day, seven days a week.  Over this time many kinds of hospitality had been arranged, including dances, picture and theatre parties, and week-end hospitality in both suburban and country homes.  They also assisted in finding homes for the wives of interstate men, and even arranging hospital accommodation when needed.


At wars end, Mary stated that almost half a million Air Force men had been provided with entertainment, and often a holiday or rest in a home during their brief periods of leave in Melbourne.  She also commented that: “The hostesses were wonderful.  They took in boys, often overcrowding their homes, and at great inconvenience to themselves.  In spite of food difficulties, and the many inconveniences of wartime living, they continued to billet boys.”

When the Hospitality Bureau closed its doors on the 1st of December 1945, Mary was ill in the Mercy Hospital.


During the remaining forties and fifties, Mary continued her association with her “Twins” as she called them, The Victoria League and the Arts and Crafts Society, and she and her sisters remained in their home in Washington Street, Toorak.  It was at their home on the 21st of July 1960 that Mary passed away at the age of 88, and was buried the following day in the family plot at the St Kilda Cemetery.







The Argus (Melb, Vic), Thur 5 Sept 1867 (p.4):


CHOMLEY – HOGG – On the 4th inst., at St John’s Church, Toorak, by the Rev Walter Fellows, B.A., Arthur Wolfe Chomley, Esq., to Juliana Charlotte, eldest daughter of Edward James Hogg, Esq.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 5 Aug 1871 (p.27):


CHOMLEY – On the 29th ult., at the Springs, Malvern, the wife of A.W. Chomley of a daughter.



Critic (Adelaide, SA), Wed 9 Sept 1908 (p.16):

Concerning Melbourne

Victoria’s great official reception to Rear-Admiral Sperry and the American Fleet at the Exhibition will long be remembered by those who witnessed the imposing spectacle.


Lady Gibson-Carmichael held a reception on Saturday evening after the dinner to the admirals and officers at the State Government House, and there has been much heart-burning over the same, for many had called and left their names, but few were chosen.


Miss Mary Chomley (daughter of the handsome judge) wore an empire gown of grey chiffon satin.  Miss Chomley is tall and elegant, and is recognized as the most intelligent and highly cultured of all Melbourne’s society belles.  ……………………….



The Newsletter: an Australian Paper for Australian People (Syd, NSW), Sat 26 Sept 1908 (p.4):

Who’s Who To-day

A five-woman picture show at B…y’s rooms this week is a favourite rendezvous of art lovers…………………..

Miss Mary Chomley, of Melbourne also contributed an interesting sketch of the Melbourne Exhibition, but as she modestly refrains from placing her name on the list of the catalogue, and leaves her meritorious little picture unpriced, it must be concluded that she desires no …….



Weekly Times (Melb, Vic), Sat 28 Aug 1909 (p.10-11):




Miss Mary Chomley, daughter of Judge Chomley, is secretary of the Victorian branch.

In an interesting talk Miss Chomley told us something of the aims and work of the organization.

The League’s History

“The Victoria League,” she said, “is Imperial in sentiment, but non-jingoistic.  It aims at fostering a friendly feeling between Britons all over the world.  The headquarters of the League are in London.  Lady Jersey is its president, and, I think, founder.  ……………

Our Arts and Crafts

Miss Chomley is herself Australian, a sterling nationalist as well as a strenuous Imperialist.

She was secretary of the Affiliated Arts section of the Women’s Exhibition, and a prime mover for, and first secretary of, the newly established Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria.

“I am very greatly interested in the society,” she said; “it aims at raising the standard of design, and in rousing public interest in all the hand-works on which taste and skill are expended – in fact, at founding a school of Australian design.  …………………..




Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 7 Oct 1909 (p.32):



Thanks were accorded to Miss M.E. Chomley for honorary secretarial work so ably and cheerfully carried on for the League since its inception; ……………………..



The Ballarat Star (Vic), Sat 19 Mar 1910 (p.2):



A meeting of the Ballarat branch of the Victoria League of Victoria was held at the City Hall this week, ………………….

An offer by Miss M.E. Chomley of the loan of lantern slides of some of the most beautiful spots in England, Ireland, and Scotland, was gladly accepted, and the secretary was desired to ask the aid of Mr F.J. Martell, in arranging a picture talk.  …………….



Geelong Advertiser (Vic), Mon 21 Nov 1910 (p.3):


Miss M.E. Chomley, who has taken an active part in the affairs of the Victoria League and the Arts and Crafts Society, leaves for India and Egypt by the R.M.S. Moldavia to-morrow.  The members of the Arts and Crafts Society presented her with a travelling bag and rug.



The Mercury (Hobart) Tue 10 Dec 1912:


The monthly meeting of the executive of the Victoria League was held yesterday, …….


Mrs Stourton referred to the visit of Miss Chomley, who is bringing 100 naval slides to be shown in Tasmania, …………………………………………………



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Fri 9 May 1913 (p.7):



Miss M.E. Chomley, secretary of the Victoria League in Victoria, wrote to the Minister for Defence recently offering on behalf of the executive committee a silver cup to be a shooting trophy for Senior Cadets.  The executive committee desired that the trophy should be regarded as a perpetual challenge cup, to be held by the Senior Cadets in that area which produces the best results in the annual musketry course in the training year.

Senator Pearce has now replied, accepting the offer, adopting the suggestion, and thanking the league for its sympathy with the universal training movement.



Leader (Melb, Vic), Sat 16 Aug 1913 (p.50):


During the progress of the annual meeting of the Victoria League on Tuesday at the Masonic Hall, Miss M.E. Chomley, the honorary secretary, had the misfortune to slip on the polished dancing floor.  Miss Chomley fell heavily, and struck her head against a chair.  Her face was badly cut, and she received a severe shaking, which necessitated her leaving for her home at once.



Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 1 Jan 1914 (p.26):


Much interest is being evinced in a Loan Exhibition of old furniture, silver, china, etc., which is to be held at Government House in April, 1914.  Rooms representing different periods will be arranged, …………………….

A strong committee of management has been formed, …………….., and Miss M.E. Chomley as organizing secretary for this highly interesting educative exhibition.



Public Opinion (Melb, Vic), Thur 29 Jan 1914 (p.8):


The Victoria League of Victoria, which is a younger sister, so to speak, of the English League of Victoria, is like it, a patriotic association, whose aim is to promote a friendly understanding between Britons the wide world over, and to stimulate in this portion of the British Empire an interest in her own history, as well as that of the other parts of the British Dominions.  The English Victoria League was founded in 1901 in memory of her late Majesty Queen Victoria.  The Victoria League of Victoria was founded some seven years later, on Empire Day, 1908.  …………………………………..

Much of the success of the League must be attributed to its honorary secretary, Miss Chomley, who, with her ability, sound judgement and charm of manner, is an ideal secretary for an organization with so many different departments and varied interests.




The Argus, Tue 3 Mar 1914 (p.7):

[group photo including Mary Chomley – captioned: BIG GUN TROPHY FOR H.M.A.S. AUSTRALIA – PRESENTATION BY THE VICTORIA LEAGUE]




The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 24 Mar 1914 (p.5):



Lady Helen Munro-Ferguson is on the executive of the Victoria League, and in connection with that spoke very cordially of the hon. secretary of the Victoria branch of the Victoria League, Miss Mary Chomley, whom she met when Miss Chomley was in England with her father a year ago.



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 19 May 1914 (p.4):


Miss M. Chomley, who is so closely associated with the Victoria League and Arts and Crafts movement, leaves for England next month.



The Daily News (Perth, WA), Fri 12 Jun 1914 (p.5):

Mainly About People

Miss Mary Chomley, of Melbourne, passed through Fremantle last Monday by the Maloja on her way to spend 12 months travelling in Europe.  Miss Chomley is the hon. secretary of the Victoria League of Victoria.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 6 Feb 1915 (p.33):


Miss Mary Chomley, who received the news of her father’s death some weeks ago, has decided to remain in England for some time, and expects her sisters, Miss Aileen and Miss Audrey Chomley, will come from Melbourne to join her.



The Daily Telegraph (Syd, NSW), Wed 10 Mar 1915 (p.6):


Miss M.E. Chomley, daughter of the late Judge Chomley, has bought one of the Dyson cartoons at the Leicester Gallery in London.  Miss Chomley was in charge of the art section of the Women’s Work Exhibition in Melbourne, and was also one of the founders of the Melbourne Arts and Crafts’ Society.



The Prahran Telegraph (Vic), Sat 13 Mar 1915 (p.4):


Miss Mary Chomley has been staying at Ilfracombe, Devon.  On her return to London she will be at 10 Holland Park-road, W.



The Daily Telegraph (Syd, NSW), Wed 12 May 1915 (p.6):


News of an interesting Australian wedding reaches us from England.  The bride is Miss May Grice, the elder daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Richard Grice.  She left Australia about a year ago, with her sister and Miss Mary Chomley, who was acting as chaperone to the two girls.  ……………………………

Miss Chomley and her charges are living in a flat at Knightsbridge, where they will presently be joined by Miss Audrey and Miss Eileen Chomley.



The Daily News (Perth, WA), Fri 28 May 1915 (p.3):

Mainly About People

A Melbourne lady writes that among the many well-known Melbourne women at present living in London who are working hard in the Empire’s cause is Miss Mary Chomley, eldest daughter of the late Judge Chomley.  Every morning and two afternoons weekly she teaches English to the Belgian refugees, to whom she is devoted, and other two afternoons are spent in giving crochet lessons to poor women in the East End of London.



The Sun (Syd, NSW), Sun 27 Jun 1915 (p.8):


Miss Mary Chomley, who recently returned to London after a motor trip through Devonshire, is now staying at the Cadogan Hotel, Sloane-street.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 21 Aug 1915 (p.46):


Miss Alice Fisken, who has been working for a long time in the Robert Lindsay Memorial Hospital, has gone to Ireland to stay with her sister, Mrs Richard O’Hara.

Miss Mary Chomley is taking her place for a time.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 4 Sept 1915 (p.46:


Miss Mary Chomley is working at the Robert Lindsay Memorial Hospital, in place of Miss Fisken, who is on holiday in Ireland.  Voluntary workers in hospitals of this type very often work most extraordinarily hard, and frequently have to undertake kitchen and scullery duties, as well as the mending of linen, and fetching and carrying for cooks and nurses.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 18 Sept 1915 (p.46):


Miss Mary Chomley, who has been working at the Robert Lindsay Memorial Hospital for a month, was presented, on her departure, with a fitted bag by the matron and staff.  She leaves for France shortly to help at Lady Mabelle Egerton’s canteen.



Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 23 Sept 1915 (p.30):


Miss Mary Chomley, who has been working in British military hospitals, has now gone to France.  Until last month Miss Chomley was assisting at the Robert Lindsay Memorial Hospital in London, over which Mrs Lindsay (who was well known in Australia as Miss Mary Clarke, and who even as a girl followed in the footsteps of her mother, Janet Lady Clarke, as a philanthropist) presided.  Miss Chomley is now working at Lady Mabelle Egerton’s canteen at Rouen.



The Prahran Telegraph (Vic), Sat 23 Oct 1915 (p.6):


Victorians in Europe

On leaving the Robert Lindsay Hospital, where she has been working, Miss Mary Chomley was presented by the matron and nursing staff with a handsomely fitted hand-bag as a souvenir.



The Sun (Syd, NSW), Sun 5 Dec 1915 (p.19):


Miss Mary Chomley, of Sydney, has returned from Paris, and has joined her sisters at their flat, at Oakley-street, Chelsea, England.



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 4 Jan 1916 (4):


Miss Mary Chomley and her sisters have taken a flat in London for a lengthy period.  Miss Chomley is housekeeping at one of the Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospitals.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 15 Jan 1916 (p.38):


Mrs William Smith is taking a great interest, and helping largely in the hospital for officers in Grosvenor street, which is opened this week.  The whole staff is composed of voluntary workers.  Miss Mary Chomley is superintending the domestic staff, and Mrs Wood Hanbury, formerly in the Hon. Mrs Robert Lindsay’s hospital, is the matron.



Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 20 Jan 1916 (p.30):


Miss Mary Chomley is superintending the domestic staff of the hospital for Australian officers, Grosvenor-place, London.  Mrs William Smith is one of the principal supporters of this hospital.  It was opened with twenty-five beds, but can be enlarged when necessary.  The whole hospital is staffed by voluntary workers, with Mrs Wood Hanbury – who was formerly in Mrs Robert Lindsay’s hospital – as matron.



Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 17 Feb 1916 (p.32):


Queen Mary is constantly “on the go” visiting various non-working centres, personally organizing, dispensing tea to Australian wounded soldiers and giving valuable woman’s advice.  On the occasion of a recent visit to the Hospital for Officers in Grosvenor Place – of which Miss Mary Chomley is the leading spirit and Mrs Wood Hanbury the Matron – Her Majesty was immensely impressed with the equipment and management of the Melbourne Ward, I hear, and suggested that the arms of Victoria should be emblazoned over the fireplace as the central decoration.



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 16 May 1916 (p.4):


Miss Aubrey Chomley is one of the busy helpers at the Chelsea Hospital, where she teaches wounded soldiers to make raffia baskets.  Miss A. and L. Fisken are doing similar work teaching handicrafts so that disabled soldiers may be able to help themselves.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 26 Aug 1916 (p.38):


LONDON, July 13

Miss Eilleen Chomley, daughter of the late Judge Chomley, who has been rather seriously ill lately, is better.  She and her sisters, Miss Mary Chomley and Miss Aubrey Chomley, have taken a flat in Chelsea.



The Sun (Syd, NSW), Sun 12 Nov 1916 (p.15):

Social Gossip

Miss Mary Chomley is now assisting Miss Kathleen O’Connor at the Australian branch of the Red Cross Society, dealing chiefly with the work of alleviating the sufferings of prisoners of war in Germany.



The Northern Miner (Charters Towers, Qld), Wed 22 Nov 1916 (p.2):



Messrs N.E. Brookes and F.R. Fairbairn have forwarded the following report………….

The prisoners of war in Germany have greatly increased, and we now have particulars of 500.  This necessitates considerably increasing our staff.  Miss Kathleen O’Connor had organized this branch, and we have much pleasure in informing you that we are very pleased with the able manner in which she now has it running.  However, the work has grown to such large proportions that we decided, after consultation with her, to secure a superintendent to relieve Miss O’Connor of the responsibility.  We have secured Miss Mary Chomley, who has made a start to grasp the details, and will in future superintend this branch.  We already have 13 prisoners of war adopted.  Mr Smart, who controls the Publicity Department of the High Commissioner’s Office, appealed, through the British press, for adopters this week, and, judging from the applications already received, the appeal is meeting with great response.  ……………………….




Southern Times (Bunbury, WA), Sat 30 Dec 1916 (p.5):

A Bunbury Boy


The following correspondence which Mr J.T. Sinclair has received from Miss M.E. Chomley, the secretary of the Australian Prisoners of War Branch of the British Red Cross Society, serves to show in a very practical way what the Society is doing to help prisoners of war in the enemy’s country, as well as assisting in so many other noble directions: –

“The British Prisoners of War Help Committee has sent your letter to me, and I have pleasure in sending you herewith a slip to show you what we are doing for our soldiers in Germany.  We are just sending off extra parcels of some nice food for Christmas.  I presume the British Committee sent on the £2 you speak of.  If you desire to send extra parcels of food to your son we will be very glad to act as you agents, and carry out any instructions you send.  We have been sending parcels of food, bread and cheese, since August 30th, of which he has acknowledged the first four.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do.  You can write frequently, and if you send the letters to us; we will forward them to his latest address.”

Australian Prisoners of War Department.

Parcel of food sent weekly from the Haymarket.  Price about 5/8.  Bread and cheese sent weekly from Berne, Switzerland.  100 cigarettes and ½lb of tobacco sent fortnightly from the Haymarket Stores.  A large parcel of warm underclothing, toilet necessaries, cigarettes and tobacco sent from our own Red Cross Stores, as soon as we receive a new name.  When we receive the measurements from headquarters a complete outfit, including uniform, boots, and great-coat.  Blankets are forbidden for the moment.




The Armidale Chronicle (NSW), Wed 24 Jan 1917 (p.2):

Prisoners of War

The following is reprinted from the “Sydney Morning Herald”: –

Miss M.E. Chomley, secretary of the Australian Prisoners of War Department of the Red Cross Society, reports that there are now 840 Australian prisoners of war in Germany, scattered over 25 different camps.  Of these men 55 are in places so close to the war zone that parcels cannot be sent to them.  This is to be regretted, as the men were often kept there because they were wounded, and could not be sent on to the ordinary camps.  The other men were being sent parcels of food, valued between 5/6 and 6/ weekly.  Seventy-seven of the men were in hospital, and parcels were also sent to them.  Every war prisoner was sent a first parcel without delay, from the Red Cross stores, containing two sets of warm underclothing, handkerchiefs, towels, toilet necessaries, pipe and tobacco, and cigarettes, etc.  Later on a complete outfit, including a great coat, uniform, and boots is sent.  The Misses Fisken, who do the whole of the packing of the clothes, report that every man has now been sent one, and in many cases, two, of these parcels, so that they are all supplied with boots and shoes, and underwear.  In all, 1080 parcels of clothing have been packed since the Misses Fisken undertook the work.

There has been great difficulty in ascertaining the exact number of men interned, or getting any definite information about them.  Miss Chomley reports, as far as can be learnt at present, there are 108 men at the different prison camps in Turkey and Asia Minor, and their condition, though doubtless uncomfortable and hard in the extreme, is not as bad as in Germany.  Food of a kind seems to be plentiful, and as many of the men are in working camps on the Bagdad railway, where they are paid 1/4 a day, they are able to live and maintain their health.

Since the beginning of October a parcel of food value 7/6 and tobacco and cigarettes, has been sent every fortnight to each of the Australian prisoners.  It is not possible to receive acknowledgements from prisoners in Turkey under four or five months, but from recent reports the parcels sent to prisoners seem to have arrived more regularly than formerly.




Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 26 Apr 1917 (p.25):


Lady Creswell, vice-president, gave an account of the arts and crafts work in England.  This was from a letter written by Miss Mary Chomley, who, in spite of her arduous war work, has not lost her interest in arts and crafts.  When the society was started here Miss Chomley consented to act as secretary and to her efforts it was largely due that the society took root at all and became firmly established.  Miss Chomley is of opinion that the war had not been detrimental to advancement of the arts and crafts movement, and goes on to tell of the recent big exhibition of the work, and particularly commends the chinaware and pottery.



The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 13 Jun 1917 (p.5):


The Red Cross has received a letter from a prisoner of war at Schneidemuhl, in Germany, expressing heartfelt gratitude for the comforts forwarded from Sydney.  The following is an extract: - “Well, mother, I want you all at home to advertise as much as possible the splendid way the Red Cross are looking after and providing for us.  I would like you to write to Miss Chomley, of the prisoners of war department.  Australian B.R.C.S., and tell her of the way we all appreciate what she and her assistants are doing for us.  I pray God that it will not be long before we can show our appreciation in a better way for all that has been done for us.”



Daylesford Advocate, Yandoit, etc. (Vic), Tue 9 Oct 1917 (p.4):


Miss Lawry, of Fraser street, Daylesford, has kindly forwarded us for publication the following letter which she received from the Secretary of the Prisoners’ Department of the Australian Red Cross Society, 54 Victoria street, London: –

Dear Miss Lawry – Thank you very much for your letter of the 27th May.  As extra parcels have now been stopped, I think the best way is to send the money to the Red Cross in Australia, as they keep us supplied.  I am glad you brother (3296. Spr W.S. Lawry) is well supplied with clothes and writes so nicely about oud for work.  I had a letter from him direct not very long ago.  It is a comfort to know that at present they are having really nice weather; it makes them all feel very much more comfortable.  The only way you could send a little personal gift to your brother would be by sending a few shillings for books, if you think he would care for them.  They are not allowed to see newspapers or magazines, and lots of men, who are perhaps not great readers at ordinary times, would be glad to have something to take their minds off their present circumstances.  I have begun suggesting this to a great many of the relatives, as excellent books can be bought in London for 9d or 1s 3d, and a few shillings spent like this might keep him happy and interested for weeks.  If you or any other relatives of a prisoner of war should think of doing this, you must state distinctly that it is for books, otherwise it will go into general funds. – I am, yours faithfully, (Miss) M.E. CHOMLEY, Hon. Sec.



Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 26 Oct 1917 (p.13):

Personal and Otherwise

Medical Major Arthur Morris and his wife have arrived in America on their return from London to their native Australia.  The Major, who is the only son of the late Professor and Mrs Morris, grandson of the late Mr Justice Higginbotham, was in charge of Langwarrin before leaving here, over a year ago, on a special medical mission to Egypt and France.  Mrs Morris proceeding to England a few months later to be near her husband and sisters, the Misses Chomley, who went to London to do war work.  Miss Mary Chomley is hon. secretary to the Australian prisoners of war branch of the Red Cross Association.  Mrs Morris, who was a trainee at the Alfred Hospital when the Doctor induced her to exchange her cap and apron for a wedding ring, has been doing her bit by helping to nurse the wounded.



The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW), Wed 12 Dec 1917 (p.4):

For Prisoners of War – How they are Helped

Miss Ruth Oliver, a niece of Mrs F. Smart, of Fairfield, and a Sydney girl, is working in London at the Red Cross Depot for Australian prisoners in Germany, and writes interestingly of the work: - “We work from 9.30 till 6.30, and often later; but the work is so interesting that the hours fly unnoticed.  ………………………………………..

I see all the letters and post-cards which the men write, such interesting letters and so grateful for parcels.  Miss Chomley, our secretary, answers all individually, and makes a point of writing to every new man.  …………………………………….



Bendigo Advertiser (Vic), Fri 21 Dec 1917 (p.3):



After having been a prisoner in Germany………………………

To parents and relatives here of Australian boys in the hands of the Germans, Lance-Corporal Gale gave the advice that they should not attempt to send them parcels themselves, as those parcels would not be delivered.  The only parcels given to the prisoners were those officially sent by the British Red Cross Society in accordance with an agreed upon system.  The society had an office and staff set apart entirely for prisoners business, and any people in Australia desiring to know anything about Australian soldiers prisonered or believed to be in the hands of the Germans, were advised to write to Miss Chomley, 54 Victoria-street, Westminster, England.  Lance-Corporal Gale was sure they would get every satisfaction, as Miss Chomley’s department was most efficient and she knew more about the prisoners, by means of her system of obtaining information, than anyone else could.



The Argus, Mon 18 Mar 1918:


To be Officers:  ………..Miss Mary Elizabeth Maud Chomley, Miss Vera Deakin, …….



The Daily News (Perth, WA), St 30 Mar 1918 (p.5):



………………………………………, and arrived in London at 6 p.m., and were met by motor cars and cheering crowds of people, with motor horns blowing.  It was deafening.  When we drove out of the station the people rushed to shake hands with us.  Miss Chomley, Australian Red Cross, with Mrs Reid, were there to meet the Australians.  I cannot say too much of their kindness during our captivity, and since our arrival here.



Daily Standard (Brisb, Qld), Sat 30 Mar 1918 (p.5):


The Red Cross Society entertained the prisoners from Switzerland.  Captain Cull, on behalf of the repatriated men, presented Miss Chomley with a jewel case.  He said she was beloved in every prisoners’ camp in Germany.  The prisoners owed an unforgettable debt to the women of the prisoners’ branch for their unceasing care.  Captain Cull was badly wounded when leading a forlorn hope at Warlencourt.  He testifies to the skillful treatment of the German surgeons, who miraculously saved him from death. – United.



Bendigonian (Vic), Thur 9 May 1918 (p.9):




Referring to parcels, the prisoner of war says “they are arriving all right, and it is a treat to get them.  Miss Chomley, the secretary of the Red Cross, sends letters occasionally.”



Weekly Times (Vic), Sat 25 May 1918 (p.10):



Repatriated prisoners of war, who recently arrived in England, have been receiving invitations for tea and theatre parties at the rate of forty a day, it is said.  Miss Mary Chomley, who for a long time was honorary secretary of the Victorian League of Victoria, is head of the Welfare Committee of the Returned Australian Prisoners of War, in London, and meets all Australian prisoners from Germany.

The Welfare Committee for Returned British Prisoners of War has charge of arrangements for the reception of the prisoners’ train.  Bands play “Home, Sweet Home,” “Rule, Britannia,” and “Australia Will be There” while its war-worn passengers are disembarking.  The engine comes to a standstill at the smoky railway station, amid cheers and a weird chorus put up by motor horns.

A train with a number of Australians on board was welcomed in this way a few weeks ago.  Then the Duchess of Bedford and Lord Sandwich went through the carriages and gave every man a card of greeting, tied with red, white and blue ribbon, from the King and Queen.  Members of the Welfare Committee distributed small bouquets of primroses, and Australians were presented, as well, with sprigs of wattle blossom.

Miss Mary Chomley, and Lieutenant Fleming, representing the Commonwealth Government, met Australians, and saw that arrangements for their comfort were satisfactory.  Stretcher cases were carefully moved to the hospitals appointed to receive them, but the men able to get about were driven to their destinations in the cars of friends and fellow countrymen, who were waiting for them, and delighted to honor the men who had suffered all the hardships and difficulties of imprisonment in an enemy country.



[from another report – included members of a Field Ambulance / re the sprig of wattle: “which they promptly stuck at a rakish angle in their hats”]





Great Southern Herald (Katanning, WA), Wed 12 Jun 1918 (p.4):

Prisoners of War

To the Editor

Sir – Will you kindly find space in your paper for the enclosed?  I feel sure there are many anxious mothers and fathers (like ourselves) that would like to know what could be sent to our boys now in the hands of Germans.  I received this paper direct from London. – Yours, etc., A.E.


Australian Red Cross Society, 36 Grosvenor-place, London, SW.  Prisoners of War Department:  Dear Madam – Since the last regulations came into force, no parcels may be sent to Australian prisoners of war except by the Australian Red Cross, prisoners of war department.  We cannot accept any parcels of food, clothing, or tobacco to forward to Germany.  We send three parcels of food per fortnight to each man, irrespective of rank, which must not exceed 11lb each in weight.  In those we include tea, milk, sugar, dripping, or margarine, tinned meat, vegetables, rice, barley, etc.  The value of each parcel is at present 10/-, but will vary according to the price of food.  Bread is sent direct from Berne, Switzerland, to each man every week.  Tobacco and cigarettes are sent every fortnight.  The above parcels are paid for out of Red Cross funds, and as they are entirely subscribed for by private donors, we are glad to receive contributions of any amount towards the cost.  The full amount of clothing allowed by regulation is sent every six months.  Money may only be sent to Australian prisoners of war through the Australian Red Cross Society, and not more than £5 per month may be sent to any one man.  Although prisoners of war are only allowed to write three letters a month and a post card a week, they may apparently receive any reasonable number.  If it is desired we will forward any letters sent to us, as the men are often moved about, and we usually know their latest address.  No stamps are required on letters to prisoners of war.  Books may be sent direct from any bookseller who has a permit.  Used books may not be sent by private people.  The Australian Red Cross cannot receive any books from private people to send to prisoners of war, but will select them if requested by the friends of the prisoners of war, at an authorized shop.  Please always mention the name, number, battalion, etc., of the prisoner of war in whom you are interested when writing. – (Signed) M.E. Chomley, hon. secretary.




The Mercury (Hobart) Sat 15 Jun 1918:

Australian War Workers

MRS E.F. MITCHELL and Misses Mary Chomley and Deakin, of the Australian Red Cross, received their Order of the British Empire decorations at BuckinghamPalace from the hands of the King.  On the afternoon of the same day, Miss Chomley, who is associated with the Prisoners of War Department, was presented by Captain A. Cull, on behalf of a batch of newly-released prisoners from Germany, with a silver casket in memory of their arrival in London.


[Captain William Ambrose CULL, 22nd Bn – POW Germany – very long POW Statement in his records (typed copy starts p.57, handwritten copy starts p.61)]

The above took place in March, Capt Cull embarked for Australia on the 8/4/18




Williamstown Advertiser (Vic), Sat 13 Jul 1918 (p.3):

What Australian Red Cross Are Doing

Letter from Private Walter Warren to the headmaster of his old school at North Melbourne, who has kindly made it available for publication: –

“I was passed by the camp doctor in Soltau for internment in Holland.  We left Soltau on 21st March, and went to Aachen… and were again examined by some Berlin and neutral doctors.  They passed me for England.  We left Aachen on 8th April, and travelled through Holland to Rotterdam.  The people of Holland gave us a great reception.  We stayed at Rotterdam until last Saturday, and came to England on the hospital ship [censored], arriving at Boston on Sunday morning.  We came to King George’s Hospital, London, on Sunday evening.  Miss Chomley, of the Australian Red Cross Society, was up to see us on Monday.  I don’t know what we would have done without the parcels they sent us.  There would have been a great many of us ‘landowners’ in Germany, for the stuff the Germans sent us to eat was terrible.  It was one continual Black Thursday until the Red Cross parcels started to come, and then we were never short.  We could live without having any German stuff at all….  We have tea with the Australian Red Cross ladies to-morrow night, and there is something else coming off every night for a week or so yet.”



The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 7 Aug 1918 (p.10):


Mrs Sargent, organizer and banker for the New South Wales Prisoners-of-War Comforts Fund, has made available correspondence from Miss M.E. Chomley, hon. secretary of the Prisoners-of-War Care Committee, London.  A cablegram from Miss Chomley to Mrs Sargent, under date July 17, announces the receipt of £400.  “All in Holland seem well and happy,” she adds.  Mrs Sargent was also notified by letter dated May 23 of the receipt of £595, as from July 17, 1917, to April 11, 1918.  Miss Chomley spoke incidentally of extracts from letters from the men in appreciation of the battalion colours sent to them instead of Christmas cards.  She adds: “You will be glad to know that we are able to send some nice fruit and fresh eggs, and sometimes a little honey or something of the kind to those of our men who have returned from Germany but are fairly ill.  This goes in the name of ‘Mrs Geo. Sergent and the women of Sydney.’  As both fruit and eggs are very expensive the hospital cannot always supply them in any large quantities, and it is a great pleasure for the men to receive them.”  Miss Chomley speaks also of the safe receipt by the men in enemy territory of “their extra parcels of food and money.”  Mrs Sargent points out that mothers and friends have received letters from the men confirming this.



The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Wed 16 Oct 1918 (p.9):


(By A.G. Rosman, London)

A committee of peculiar interest to Australia has just been formed in London.  It is called the Prisoners in Turkey Committee, and its object is to gather information about those British officers and men who have survived their captivity in Asia Minor; …………..


Australia is represented on the executive by Miss Mary Chomley, a daughter of the late Judge Chomley, of Melbourne, and head of the Prisoners of War Department of the Australian Red Cross.  A woman of great public spirit, Miss Chomley knows more about Australian prisoners of war than anybody else, and it is largely due to her personality and enthusiasm that our Red Cross Prisoners of War Department has earned the reputation of being not only the best-managed but the most human of any such existing organization in London.



Western Mail (Perth, WA), Fri 1 Nov 1918 (p.34):


Here are two notes of appreciation which have lately been received and which will greatly please all Red Cross Workers.  One is from a matron of a United States of America Hospital.  ………………………..

The other note is more directly personal and anyone who knows Miss Mary Chomley who formerly took a prominent part in Melbourne affair, will feel the tribute to be as just as it is spontaneous.  One of our commissioners asked Quartermaster-Sergeant Edwards, of the 51st Australian Infantry Battalion, who was severely wounded, and captured in the battle of the Somme in 1916, and who has just escaped from Germany, if the Australian prisoners in Germany had any message to send home?  This is the answer.  “Please tell Miss Chomley, head of the Prisoners’ of War Department, of the Australian Red Cross, that the Australians in the German prison camps, cannot speak highly enough of her, and her work.  They cannot be grateful enough for the inexhaustible love, and sympathy, and patience, with which she and her staff, listen to all our men’s whims and fancies.

Cheeri-o Australia!”



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Wed 13 Nov 1918 (p.11):


In the course of a letter, written from Holland, whither he was transferred some months ago from a German military prison, Private Leslie Phillips, son of Captain W. Phillips, of Ballarat, speaks of the scarcity of food.


“About 40 of us received tobacco and cigarette parcels yesterday from the Australian Red Cross.  We have had several letters from our dear old friend, Miss Chomley (secretary of the Red Cross in England), and this was the first lot of tobacco we had had; ……………

“Too much praise cannot be given to the Australian Red Cross for what they are doing for us unfortunate prisoners of war.  ……………….

If any one person has played a noble part in this great world struggle, it is Miss Chomley.  She has earned the everlasting gratitude of each one of Australia’s sons who has been in the hands of the Huns.  ………………..



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 22 Mar 1919 (p.38):


Miss MacLeod, who has been helping Miss Mary Chomley in the Prisoners’ of War department, will go to Melbourne in a few weeks.  Miss Chomley has been busier than usual of late, though the work is what she has been looking forward to ever since she took charge of her department.  Instead of writing to prisoners, and attending to their wants, she is meeting them, and looking after them on arrival.  As a rule, a big tea, to which a few civilian Australians are invited, is given them when they go to London, and they are petted and spoilt in a manner which might almost satisfy their friends in Australia.  The hospital cases are, of course, sent straight to hospital; the majority to the big King George Hospital, near Waterloo station.  Their experiences vary according to their prison camps.  Many have little to complain of, many have a good deal, and there are others whose stories are hideous, so unrelenting was the barbarity of their gaolers.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 23 Apr 1919 (p.5):




In a room looking over the gardens of Buckingham Palace there is nowadays a serial tea party that is continued from day to day.  On the long tables, until a few weeks ago, there used to be nothing more exciting than thousands of index cards, maddening things to the uninitiated, but dramatic enough when you knew your way about them, because they represented the present histories of our Australian prisoners of war.  Now the owners of the names on the cards are coming gradually to England, and the tables are laden instead with flowers and flags and crackers in their honour, as well as sandwiches, sweets, and – it seems like magic – real old-fashioned plum cake.

“I suppose your labours are over now the men are coming home.” I heard an outsider remark to one of the Australian girls who has given the whole of her time for several years to this department of our Red Cross.  The girl in question was too kind to retort, but it was an idiotic query, for to run a thoroughly businesslike organization, and at the same time entertain every day a hundred guests or more from 3 o’clock to 6, seems as strenuous an occupation as anyone could wish to find.  The hostesses seem to enjoy their self-imposed task, however, just as much as the guests, who, coming from a tedius and often terrible captivity in enemy lands, have found in the Australian Red Cross a little corner of London that is their own by right.  Few of them know England well, or have any personal friends here, but they all know Miss Chomley, by name at least – they will tell you she is known in every prison camp and lazarette in Germany – and so when she tells them that they are to regard the Red Cross as their London home, and that there is a sitting-room always waiting for them, and tea any afternoon, they take her at her word.

To Australians who, being outsiders, have seen most of the game, it has been a source of pride to hear experienced war-workers speak of our Australian prisoners of war department as the most human, as well as one of the most successful, of any of the organisations of the kind.  Now that these men of ours are coming in hundreds back from Germany, those of us who have seen and talked with many of them, realise anew how true that judgment is, and how the personality of one of our country-women has been largely responsible.  By most people in Melbourne Miss Mary Chomley will be remembered as a public-spirited Australian, but to more than 3,000 men of the A.I.F., and to those civilians in London, who have seen her work as head of the prisoners of war department, she is something more than that, and not only by her unselfish devotion, but by her tact and kindliness, and her broad and human outlook, she has made for herself a unique place in their regard.  Red tape and the curt official methods which every soldier so bitterly resents had no place in her regime, and the letters which, as the sponsor for their friends at home, she wrote to these boys in captivity, did more for them, perhaps, than anyone will ever know.

Every Australian detests patronage, and if that crowning impertinence had ever crept into their Red Cross letters, they would certainly not have been such cherished possessions to our Australian prisoners of war.  Under Miss Chomley’s hand the Red Cross has been to them not an aloof benefactor, but the understanding and sympathetic voice of their own people.

“It wasn’t only the Australians who talked about her,” a South Australian private assured me eagerly, “all the camp did, and when there was a mail in, they’d come rushing round – English Tommies, South Africans, Frenchies, and the whole lot – to know if there were any letters from Miss Chomley.  I can tell you she was a sort of queen.”  That little tribute is splendidly deserved, not only by Miss Chomley, but her assistants, Mrs Morduant Reid, of Perth; Miss Ethel Bage, of Melbourne; Miss Ruth Oliver, of Sydney; Miss Dorothy Moore, of Perth; Mrs Faerlie Cunninghame, of Adelaide; Miss Jessie Robinson, Miss Murdoch, Mrs Farrell, and many others.  Of the hundreds of Australian girls doing war-work on both sides of the world, none have rendered finer services than those, or done it with less ostentation.  As one of their family of 3,000 exclaimed: – “I can tell you it’s uncanny to come to London where you think you don’t know a living soul, after three years among the Huns, and find a party of ladies who know all about you and where you come from and how many children you have, and never once mix you up with the hundreds of other chaps who have come back too.  Beats me how they do it.”

Meanwhile much of the ordinary work of the department goes on as usual, even though there are no more parcels to be sent out.  Five thousand letters came to the Red Cross for the prisoners of war by the Australian mail recently, so a miniature post-office has become one of the side-lines, and all day long there is a stream of anxious inquirers, hoping for a line from home.  “I can’t bear to tell them there are no letters,” said an amateur post-mistress, as one boy went away disappointed.  “I’d rather go and write them a letter each myself.”  (It is evident the hardened villanies of the ordinary post-office do not obtain here.)  There is a miniature bank, too, and every returning prisoner must be given a full account of the money that has been held for him, and an envelope containing whatever remains to his credit.  He has an embarrassing way of wanting to refuse this.

“It is your own money,” his hostesses will point out.

“But think what I owe the Red Cross?  Why, if it were not for you ladies we should all be dead.”

“And if it were not for you men we should all be Germans,” retorts someone amid much laughter and a few protests; but the argument is quite a good one.  The “owing” is so obviously all on the other side.

From time to time you hear many stories of exciting adventures and escapes.  One man escaped with seven days’ rations, but it was fourteen days before he at last reached Holland, half starving, and half dead.  Another lad crept out of his German camp on November 10, and reached the border two days later.  In Holland he met an old priest, who could speak English, and told him he was free.

“Couldn’t think what he was getting at,” he told us.  “Funny thing, but I never thought of peace.”

Yet another man, interned in Holland, had seen the Kaiser’s train come through.  “Plastered all over with guards,” he said, “But we wouldn’t believe it was Bill, although they told us.  It seemed too good to be true.”

The Red Cross is a place of strange meeting these days.  Officers and men who have not met since they were captured, mates taken together badly wounded, and each believing the other dead, meet again in the friendly rooms.

“That chap over there,” a sergeant told us, “was in a shell hole with me just before they got us, and the last I saw of him till 10 minutes ago was a German carrying him away on his back.”

The other week three of our prisoners of war came back to England unexpectedly, arriving at Waterloo station still in their prison clothes.  By a lucky chance, Miss Ethel Bage was at the station with some of their comrades, whom she was seeing off to a party out of town.  The newcomers saw the turned-up hats, made for them, and were soon telling their adventures.  They were Private A.W. Beck, Private Edison Waite, and Private Townsend, and they had escaped some weeks ago from Germany into Bohemia.  Bohemia by that time was tired of war, so took care of the newcomers until the armistice with Austria was signed.  Then they were able to reach Triests, cross to Venice, and get a steamer to Cherbourg and Southampton.  They had an Irish comrade with them, whom Miss Bage directed to his own Care Committee.  Then she took her own fellow-countrymen in triumph to Horseferry road.

The Red Cross is doing everything possible to make the returning prisoners of war comfortable and at home in London.  Accommodation, even for soldiers who ought to have the first consideration, is a pressing problem nowadays, and Miss Chomley and her fellow-workers make a point of seeing that every one of their protegees has somewhere suitable to stay on arrival.

They are arranging, too, for amusement and hospitality for them among their fellow Australians, particularly for the younger lads and those who are strangers in London and have no friends here.  It is the least that can be done for men who have suffered so much for Australia and for freedom.




The Daily News (Perth, WA), Wed 25 Jun 1919 (p.3):

Mainly About People

Much has been said (writes an Australian in London) from time to time – but never too much – of the fine work accomplished by the little band of Australian women in London who formed the Prisoners of War Department of the Australian Red Cross.  Theirs was the responsible and difficult task of caring for the bodily and mental welfare of a family of over three thousand, scattered through hundreds of camps in Germany and Austria and Turkey.  Now that this large family is safely back in civilization at last we are able to realise how well that work has been done.  There were no prisoners of war in any country so well looked after; that is the unanimous verdict of the men, not only because the food parcels provided by Australia for her captured sons were so generous and so wisely chosen, but because of the cheering, friendly, personal interest taken in each individual prisoner by these country-women of theirs in London.  The name of Miss Mary Chomley, O.B.E., head of the department, will not easily be forgotten by the men for whom she has worked or the women who have been associated with her at Grosvenor-place.  On the eve of closing the department last week the Red Cross gave Miss Chomley a party.  It was a very friendly and intimate little affair, only her fellow-workers for the prisoners being present and one or two repatriated officers, who happened still to be in London, and who cheerfully admitted they were interlopers on this particular occasion.  A bunch of roses and carnations, a little leather case containing their signatures, and a beautiful silver salver were presented to Miss Chomley as a token of affection from her staff; and for her assistant secretary, Mrs Mordaunt Reid, of Perth, there was a gold matchbox and a little address tied with the colors of the 11th Battalion, A.I.F.  Mrs Reid is the wife of an officer of that battalion, who was, alas, posted missing in the early days of the Gallipoli campaign.  Ever since she has devoted herself to our prisoners of war.  Among others present at the party were Mrs Macartney, Mrs Sinclair Maclagan, and Miss Isabel Maclagan, Mrs Edward Bage, Miss Ethel Bage, Miss Wagner, Mrs Hammans, Mrs Maclaren, Miss Mackellar, Miss Mary Murdoch, and Miss Moore.



The Mercury (Hobart) Thur 31 Jul 1919:



LONDON July 29

The delegation of women organized by the Imperial Government to investigate the possibilities in the Dominions for women workers sailed from Plymouth to-day in the liner Ulysses.

The delegates for Australia, who are accompanied by Miss Chomley, of Melbourne, include Miss Pugh Jones and Mrs Simm, wife of the Labour member for Wallsend.

A similar delegation to visit New Zealand includes Miss Gridler and Miss Watkin.  Miss Gridler is now in Canada, making investigations.



The Queenslander, Sat 9 Aug 1919 (p.6):


In their fourth and final annual report, the committee of the Information Bureau of the Queensland branch of the Australian Red Cross Society express their appreciation of the work in London of Miss Chomley, “for the unvarying care and attention given to inquiries from the Queensland Bureau.”  That this appreciation was justly merited will be amply testified by almost any “digger” who has passed through London.  Miss Chomley has been particularly zealous in her efforts to alleviate the sufferings and trials of repatriated Australian prisoners of war.  There were in all some 3400 Australian prisoners of war at one time or another interned in German prison camps, and they will almost unanimously testify – officers and other ranks alike – that they could not have pulled through on the German prison ration, that they must have succumbed to starvation had it not been for the generously loaded Red Cross food parcels that regularly reached them.  And for this blessing Miss Chomley was mainly responsible.  Long before the signing of the armistice, when physically wrecked prisoners of war were coming across in dribs and drabs through Holland and Switzerland, Miss Chomley zealously visited the big London hospitals – notably the King George Hospital in Waterloo – in which they were first quartered before being drafted to the Australian auxiliary hospitals at Harefield or Southall.  She and her helpers brought these sufferers immeasurable comfort.  After the signing of the armistice, when prisoners of war began to be returned in substantial contingents from the German “gefangenen lager” (prison camps), she personally visited the great concentration and distributing camps for prisoners of war at Ripon in Yorkshire and at Dover.  Miss Chomley was unceasing in her efforts on behalf of Australian prisoners of war, and there cannot be one of them who does not bear her name in kindly if not affectionate remembrance.




The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 2 Sept 1919 (p.5):




As a guide to Miss Pugh Jones and Mrs M.T. Simms, delegates sent by the Imperial Government to investigate and report on conditions for English women workers in Australia, Miss Mary Chomley arrived by the Ulysses this morning.

She is a daughter of the late Judge Chomley and a sister of Mrs Arthur Morris, 120 Collins street.  Miss Chomley left Australia early in 1914, and throughout the war period had charge of the Prisoners of War Department in London, in connection with the Red Cross Society.

The possibilities of rural life as an avenue for women immigrants will be one of the phases of employment which the delegates will investigate.

The will not be the first time that Miss Chomley has interested herself on behalf of settlers from overseas.  At the time Lady Gibson Carmichael was president of the Victoria League of Victoria, Miss Chomley, as hon. secretary of the league, was closely concerned with an appeal from the Kent Colonisation Society, England.

Someone was wanted to look after several boys who were being sent out to Victoria to settle on the land.  The league arranged to keep a watchful eye on them and to find women in the townships, near where the boys would settle, to give them a little motherly attention.

While here Miss Chomley was a woman of diverse activities.  She was one of the founders and the first secretary of the Arts and Crafts Society, which aims at raising the standard of design and fostering public interest in all hand-work, in which taste and skill are expended.  She and her colleagues really laid the foundation for a school of design in Australia.  Miss Chomley took a personal interest in helping craftworkers engaged in leather work, enameling, book-binding, and decorative needle work.  She was among the first Australian women who tried to revive interest in hand loom weaving.  At the women’s exhibition organized when Lady Northcote was Australia’s vice-regal representative, Miss Chomley rendered very valuable help in connection with collecting and arranging one of the arts sections.

The photograph which was taken recently in London, shows this versatile Australian wearing her Red Cross uniform.  Miss Chomley is staying at the Alexandra Club.




The Argus, Thur 4 Sept 1919:


The following were the guests of their Excellencies the Governor-General and Lady Helen Munro Ferguson at dinner at Government House last evening:- ………………

………………Miss Mary E. Chomley, O.B.E., …………



The Queenslander, Sat 6 Sept 1919 (p.24):





The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 6 Sept 1919 (p.42):


By Falaise

After an absence of over five years, Miss Mary Chomley, daughter of the late Judge Chomley, returned to Melbourne on September 2.  Her two sisters (Eileen and Aubrey) are remaining on at their home in London, as Miss Chomley’s visit is only a flying one.  During the war years she and her sisters were untiring in their efforts to help Australian soldiers.  Miss Chomley’s principal work was for Australian prisoners of war.  In July, 1916, some of our men were first taken prisoners by the Huns, and Miss Chomley at once set to work to organize a scheme to provide them with parcels of food and clothing.  The movement gradually expanded as the prisoners increased in number; but the hon. organizer and secretary continued to supervise.  That her efforts were appreciated, there is no doubt, for fully 95 per cent of the Australians, on being released, after reaching England, visited her and personally thanked her and her co-workers.  Among the Victorians who assisted in this fine work were Miss Ethel Bage, the Misses Lily and Alice Fisken, Miss Jessie Robinson, Miss Eileen Chomley (all from Melbourne), and Miss Marjorie Rowe, who is a cousin of Lady Maudsley’s, and whose home is near Ballarat.  The object of Miss Chomley’s return to Australia is a mission of inquiry.  She, together with Mrs M.T. Simm and Miss Pughe Jones – two Englishwomen – are delegates from the Colonial Office.  Recently under its auspices an Overseas Settlement Committee was formed, to give information to English people desirous of emigrating to other parts of the Empire.  There was no difficulty in helping men in this direction, but when women were applicants, the necessary information was not available.  As Miss Mary Chomley has always taken a keen interest in all matters having to do with the welfare of women, her services were obtained as one of the delegates.  It is expected that the mission will occupy about four or five months, as each of the States will be visited, and cities, as well as country places, will occupy time and attention.



The Daily News (Perth, WA), Mon 22 Sept 1919 (P.3):

Mainly About People

Miss Mary Chomley and her fellow-delegates from the Colonial Office (Mrs Simm and Miss Pughe Jones) are staying at the Alexandra Club.  They will remain in Melbourne until the end of the third week of this month, as it is thought that they will be furthering the object of their visit to Australia by attending the Royal Agricultural Show.  They will go to Queensland from Victoria.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Wed 1 Oct 1919 (p.9):


The following were guests of the Governor-General and Lady Helen Ferguson at luncheon at Government House yesterday: – Miss M.E. Chomley, O.B.E.; Miss P.N. Robertson, O.B.E.; Mrs Simm and Miss Pughe Jones.



The Brisbane Courier (Qld), Tue 21 Oct 1919 (p.8):



The interest of the meeting of the general committee of the Red Cross Society yesterday, Mr W.T. Robertson presiding, centred in the visit of Miss Chomley, O.B.E., and her subsequent informal chat with the members.  Miss Chomley referred to the Prisoners of War Fund, saying that parcels were sent to about 3200 Australian prisoners in Germany, 150 in Turkey, and three in Austria.  Six parcels a month had been sent to each individual in Germany and one a fortnight to each man in Turkey, being received by the prisoners six or eight months afterwards.  She mentioned the large amount of detail and the accuracy with which the parcels were despatched, and followed the owner round from one camp to another.  There were about 20 or 30 women on the staff, seven or eight of these being professional paid accountants as the greatest care had to be taken in dealing with hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money.  Questioned as to the appearance of prisoners one their release, Miss Chomley said they came back looking most deplorable, thin, and dirty, but she had never seen any one so happy.  The local Y.M.C.A.’s usually provided for their accommodation while awaiting transports.  Miss Chomley described their correspondence with the men the committee being their only friends in England, and gave an interesting account of the merry tea parties held at headquarters when officers waited on released men, General Birdwood being amongst the visitors.  At the conclusion of her address a very hearty vote of thanks was accorded Miss Chomley.



The Brisbane Courier (Qld), Tue 21 Oct 1919 (p.11):



Members of the British delegation – Mrs Simm, Miss Pughe-Jones, and Miss Chomley, O.B.E. – paid a visit to the Central Technical College yesterday morning.  They were received on their arrival by the principal (Mr Wearne, B.A.), and were conducted through the various departments.  ……………………….  Interest for the overseas visitors centred in the work of the returned soldiers.  They questioned each supervisor upon the probably openings for women in various branches of work, and were entertained at morning tea in the Domestic Service Block, the dainties provided being the work of the pupils, under the direction of Miss Schauer.  The delegation had an interview with the Acting Premier in the afternoon, and Miss Chomley subsequently was present at the meeting of the Red Cross General Committee.  The delegation will leave this morning for Pellevue station, where they will be the guests of Mrs Lumley Hill.  ……………..




The Newcastle Sun (NSW), Wed 12 Nov 1919 (p.1):

Miss Mary Chomley, O.B.E., and Miss Oliver were welcomed at a general committee meeting of the Red Cross Society yesterday.  Miss Chomley gave an address on the work of the Red Cross organization in London.



The Daily Telegraph (Syd, NSW), Tue 18 Nov 1919 (p.3):


Miss Chomley, O.B.E., who is a member of the Overseas Mission inquiring into opportunities in Australia for English women, and who was attached to the Australian Prisoners of War Department in London, will be at the Soldiers’ Club this afternoon to bid farewell to returned prisoners of war, all of whom are asked to be present.



Western Mail (Perth, WA), Thur 22 Jan 1920 (p.31):


Melbourne, Jan 7

Mrs M.T. Simm, Miss Mary Chomley, O.B.E., and Miss Pughe-Jones, the members of the British Delegation, who were sent out by the British Government to investigate Australian conditions regarding the employment of female labour, are again in Melbourne.

After visiting Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, and Victoria, the delegation leaves, this week, for South Australia, and hopes to arrive in Western Australia – rich in experience – either at the end of the month, or the beginning of February.






Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA), Tue 3 Feb 1920 (p.3):


This evening at the Working Men’s Hall, Dale street, Port Adelaide, Mrs L.E. Simm, wife of the Englis Labor member, and Miss Mary Chomley, O.B.E., will speak on “Labor Conditions in England and Australia.”  The ladies are members of the delegation appointed by the British Government to enquire into working conditions in Australia, and are capable speakers.  The meeting is open to both men and women, and the admission is free.



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 2 Mar 1920 (p.4):

Events of the Day – Women and Their Work

Delegates’ Mission Ended

Mrs M.E. Simm, Miss M. Chomley, O.B.E., and Miss Pugh Jones left Perth by the Indarra on Tuesday for London to place with the Imperial authorities their reports in regard to industrial, rural and domestic occupations available in Australia for Britain’s women war workers.

Arriving here on September 2, 1919, the delegates lost no time in starting on their mission of investigation.  Since then they have visited every State in the Commonwealth, gleaning first hand information for the guidance of women overseas eager to settle in Australia.

Their mission is to give a truthful report to the Imperial Government as to the means of livelihood that would be available to women immigrants here, and whether Australia is desirous of absorbing them into the working life of the community.  ……………..



Sunday Times (Perth, WA), Sun 7 Mar 1920 (p.7):

Perth Prattle

The W.A. Prisoners of War did not allow Miss M.E. Chomley to escape without expressing their gratitude for the great services she rendered them while they were in the hands of the enemy.  A social gathering was arranged, when a large number of p.o.w.’s and their lady friends were present.  The guests of the evening were the Misses M.E. Chomley and Moore, and Mrs E. Makeham, all three having done splendid work for the p.o.w.’s in London.  An illuminated address was presented to Miss Chomley, which, after expressing gratitude, went on – “In our adversity you came to us radiating sunshine and bestowing gifts that were always treasured, so hope and courage were born anew.”  A small balance from the fund was handed to “our blind p.o.w. comrade, J.H. Barfield.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 4 Dec 1920 (p.53):


LONDON, Oct 14

Miss Mary Chomley and her sisters, formerly of Melbourne, have returned from a visit to the battlefields and the South of France.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 10 Sept 1921 (p.48):


LONDON, July 28

Miss Mary Chomley is spending some weeks in Normandy and Touraine.  Her sisters are at present in Wales.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 8 Oct 1921 (p.51):


LONDON, Aug 25

Miss Mary Chomley, O.B.E., has returned from Normandy and Touraine.



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Mon 10 Apr 1922 (p.8):



I met the first detachment of Australian prisoners of war released after three years in Turkey.  They told me that they never heard of the Y.M.C.A. there, but were loud in their praise of the Australian Red Cross and Miss Chomley, whose goodness saved their lives.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 15 Jul 1922 (p.58):


LONDON, June 1

The Misses Chomley have returned from the country to their flat in Chelsea.  Miss Mary Chomley has been elected to the executive of the Society for Overseas Settlement of British Women.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 3 Mar 1923 (p.50):


LONDON, Jan 25

Mrs William Smith has joined Miss Mary Chomley in Naples.  They are going from there to Sicily.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 2 Jun 1923 (p.40):


LONDON, April 19

Miss Mary Chomley, who has been on the Continent for the winter, is expected back in London this week.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 15 Sept 1923 (p.49):


LONDON, August 11

Miss Mary Chomley is spending the summer in Devon and Cornwall.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 17 Nov 1923 (p.48):



Miss Mary Chomley, who has been spending the summer in Devonshire, is back in London.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 24 Nov 1923 (p.44):


LONDON, Oct 11

Miss Mary Chomley has been spending a few days at Oxford, and intends to go from there to Stratford on Avon.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 8 Dec 1923 (p.48):



Miss Mary Chomley is going to Paris and the Riviera for a few weeks.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 19 Jan 1924 (p.45):


LONDON, Dec 13

The Misses Aubrey and Eileen Chomley have left England to join Miss Mary Chomely at Mentone for the winter.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 20 Jun 1925 (p.48):


Friends of Miss Mary Chomley, who has been living in England for several years, will be delighted to hear that her sister (Mrs Arthur Morris) received news this week that Miss Chomley will be arriving in Melbourne early in October.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 18 Jul 1925 (p.58):


LONDON, June 11

Miss Mary Chomley is back in England after a long holiday in Italy.



The Daily Mail (Brisb, Qld), Sat 3 Oct 1925 (p.11):


August 5

There was an interesting gathering recently at the club rooms of the Society of Women Journalists at Wembley, to wish Miss Mary Chomley bon voyage.  Her good work with the overseas delegation for settlement of British women, need no recapitulation.  ……



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 16 Oct 1925 (p.14):



Arts and Crafts in England

Miss Mary Chomley, who is a daughter of the late Judge Chomley, hardly needs an introduction to Melbourne people, for it is not many years since she elected to make England her place of permanent abode, and since then she has returned twice to visit Melbourne.  In the early days of the Victorian Arts and Crafts Society Miss Chomley was one of those who helped to place it in the sound and successful position it occupies to-day, and she also did much to impress the public with the value of artistic design in craft work.  Speaking of the work of arts and crafts societies in England; Miss Chomley says that it has become very important, and the development of the various branches of handcrafts is being regarded seriously.  The influence of pure and artistic design, which is a feature of the best kind of handicraft, is being felt by tradesmen, who are now turning to the recognized artists for patterns and inspiration.  For instance, it is said that Brangwyn, the well-known English artist, is often paid 100 pounds for a single carpet design, and he probably would receive much more from foreign manufacturers, who are ready to pay very large prices for English designs and patterns.  Miss Chomley is full of regrets that she has arrived too late for the recent successful arts and crafts exhibition in Melbourne, and doubtless those who organized it, will be sorry too, for it is probably that with her wide experience she could have given many hints and sound advice.  Speaking of the work of the Women’s Institutes, which are now established all over England in towns and even quiet villages, Miss Chomley says that their success is marvelous, and in some districts women who are glad to occupy their spare time turn out wonderful work.  She referred to the chamois leather glove making, which is carried on in some of the villages in Surrey, and described the finished articles as being equal to anything made in France.

Modern Manners

Then the conversation turned, as it so often does, to the change in the manners and customs of the younger people of to-day, of whom Miss Chomley expresses a good deal of approval.  She admires the initiative which the young girl of the moment displays when any unusual situation arises, and she says that within the last 12 months a wonderful change has come over the manners of the well-bred English girls, who now consider it bad from to smoke and drink cocktails.  They go out with their parents again to enjoy themselves, which they apparently do in a simple and charming manner.  The free and easy girls, who a year or two ago were mistresses of the situation, are now described by the 18-year-old girls of to-day as “old war girls,” and Miss Chomley thinks that there is no doubt that the description rankles.  But, at the same time, the war wave, which affected the manners and thoughts of English-speaking girls to almost an extreme degree, was felt all over Europe, for a good deal of the artificial atmosphere which encompassed French and Italian girls in their home life has been swept away.  However, French girls still curtsy when they speak to their grand-parents and friends of an older generation than themselves, and in Buda Pest, and also in Italy, young people, even tiny little children, respectfully kiss the hands of their older friends when greeting them or bidding them farewell.  According to Miss Chomley, who has spent three years roaming over Europe, the older traditions in regard to manners are slowly being broadened in Europe, while in England the pendulum is inclined to swing back.  “Of course,” say Miss Chomley, “the absurd prudery of the Victorian period, which followed on the coarse laxity of the Georgian era, has gone for good, but the innate good taste which is characteristic of the English race is asserting itself, and will surely, though the process may be slow, crush the vulgarity which was an evil of war time.”





The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 17 Oct 1925 (p.54):


Miss Mary Chomley has returned to Melbourne for a visit, after an absence spent in England of several years.  At present she is staying at the Alexandra Club, but later on she will stay with her sister, Mrs Arthur Morris, Punt Hill, South Yarra.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 6 Nov 1925 (p.16):


Miss Chomley’s Sketches

An exhibition of water-colour sketches by Miss Mary Chomley will be held at the Victoria League rooms, from November 11 (when it will be opened at 3 o’clock by Dr R.R. Stawell) to November 18.  Proceeds will be in aid of the bush book committee of the league, which sends parcels of books to the smaller State schools and to dwellers in remote parts of the State.



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Wed 11 Nov 1925 (p.12):


To Help Bush Library

“I didn’t know how to get rid of my sketches, so I thought I’d sell them in aid of the Bush Library Fund of the Victoria League in Victoria,” said Miss Mary Chomley, who is exhibiting 80 of her watercolors at the rooms of the Victoria League, 419 Collins street.

The exhibition, which was opened this afternoon by Dr R.R. Stawell, is an evidence of Miss Chomley’s life-long interest in the Victoria League.  As honorary secretary she helped to pilot it through the first eight years of its existence.  Miss Chomley’s home is in England now, and, arriving here a month ago, her visit is to be a very short one, as she intends returning home in March.  She is on the committee of the Overseas Settlement of British Women, and for many years was one of the executive organisers.  On her last visit, six years ago, she spent most of her time touring the States with Mrs Sym and Miss Pughe Jones, two Englishwomen who came out to study emigration problems from this end.

All her life she has travelled.  Her sketches bear witness to that.  They serve as delightful mementos of places she has visited.  There is infinite variety in them.  An Indian mosque, a Venetian canal, Cannes in the yachting season, Edinburgh Castle, Barbizon, where Corot and so many of the old artists lived, Brompton road, London, strung with flags in war time, the Taj Mahal, a Burmese scene, the Papal Palace, Avignon, Lake Como, Kilkenny, Sark, in the Channel Islands, and the Sphinx.  Miss Chomley hasn’t found all her interest overseas, one of her “star” exhibits is an old dilapidated cottage once situated in Jolimont, which was the home of Victoria’s first Governor.  She got it just as they were pulling it down.

There is a wealth of historical and personal incident behind her pictures.

“I did that glimpse of Paris from the window of a hospital run during the war by two Australian women, Dr Helen Sexton and the late Mrs William Smith.

“They dubbed me ‘The Committee of Amusement,’” continued Miss Chomley.  “I used to go round sketching the men.  I remember doing one good-looking young fellow.  I was rather pleased with the result, and couldn’t understand why there was a shadow of disappointment across his face.  Then suddenly I realized I had left out his medal.  “One moment, monsieur,” I said, “I’ve forgotten your medal.”

The work of the Bush Library is growing steadily, and this year 51 adult libraries, 84 children’s and 42 individual parcels, with three soldiers’ libraries, have been sent to out back country centres.  Requests for books have come from New Guinea and Norfolk Island, and parcels have already reached the British Solomon Islands and Nauru.  The committee will always be glad to receive donations of books at the Victoria League rooms.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Wed 11 Nov 1925 (p.11):







The Herald (Melb, Vic), Fri 13 Nov 1925 (p.15):


Miss Mary Chomley’s Water Colors

At the rooms of the Victoria League, 332 Collins street, Miss Mary Chomley is exhibiting 84 watercolor sketches.  This collection is the fruit of travel in many countries, England, France, Italy, Ireland, India, Burmah, Egypt, Tasmania, Ceylon and Australia having all yielded subjects to the industrious brush of the artist.

Miss Chomley cannot lay claim to great ability, but as notes of travel these sketches have their charm.  Without being a strong draughtsman, she is neat and precise, and manages her perspective sufficiently well.  Her color is not strong, but she puts it on freshly and without pretension.

She makes her selections well, and if better equipped in technique would be more expressive.  A slight strengthening of her values would very much improve her work and free her innate taste which peeps out in most of her work.  It is most apparent in (2) Old House, Wittering, (13) Chelsea Beach, (14) Victory Arch, Hyde Park Corner, (15) Knightsbridge, (17) Half-Timbered House, Ludlow, (73) The Sphinx.  These show more freedom, and are evidently truer expressions of Miss Chomley’s point of view.

They and the other sketches are exhibited for a laudable end.  Any funds arising from sales will be given to the Bush Library Committee of the Victoria League.  This is consistent with Miss Chomley’s high ideal of service, of which she gave notable proof during the war.  The sketches will be on view until November 18.




The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 14 Nov 1925 (p.51):


Not many artists who hold exhibitions of their work have the pleasure which came to Miss Mary Chomley on November 11, for shortly after the exhibition, which is being held in the Victoria League rooms, Colonial Mutual Buildings, Collins street, was declared open by Dr R.R. Stawell, there were very few of the charming water-colour sketches which did not carry the red sale ticket.  This state of affairs gave great satisfaction to the bush library committee of the Victoria League, for Miss Chomley is giving the entire proceeds of the sale to the fund which provides and sends small libraries into the remote parts of the State for the benefit of lonely settlers.  In declaring the exhibition open, Dr Stawell said that with her artistic gift Miss Chomley was able to give a great deal of pleasure to her friends, and through the bush libraries, her gift would bring more pleasure and interest to many of those who led lonely lives.

The League rooms were crowded, and among those who were present were…………….





The Age (Melb, Vic), Thur 17 Dec 1925 (p.13):


An address on women’s institutes as they exist in England was given at the annual meeting of The Victoria League yesterday afternoon………………

It was also announced that the recent exhibition of pictures by Miss Chomley, who was the first secretary of the League in Victoria, and who is at present on a visit to Australia, had realized £130 for the bush library.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 26 Dec 1925 (p.52):


In honour of Miss Mary Chomley, a luncheon party was given at the Oriental on December 17 by ex-prisoners of war who had benefited by her kindly work in London during the war.  Luncheon was served in the private room at a table decorated with lovely roses, and Captain Ronald McDonald and others spoke with deep gratitude of all Miss Chomley had done in sending parcels to men in the internment camps in Germany.  Captain McDonald paid a tribute to the German officials who had been most conscientious in seeing that all parcels were delivered.  Seated round the table were Captain A.S. Robertson, Captain C. Mills, Lieut. L.C. O’Kelly, Captain R. Sanders, Captain Gower, Captain Peter McCallum, Captain Edmons, Lieut. Stuart, and others.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 12 Feb 1926 (p.13):


Party at Carnac

In view of the departure for England of Miss Mary Chomley, who will leave in the Ascanius for England on February 27, a delightful party was given yesterday afternoon by her sister, Mrs Arthur Morris, at her picturesque home, Carnac, in Punt road, South Yarra.  The guests comprised many old family friends, and many of them were descendants of those whose names were familiar in the early days of Melbourne.




The Herald (Melb, Vic), Mon 15 Feb 1926 (p.11):

Woman’s World

Miss Chomley is returning to England by the Ascanius.  She intended travelling overland on Wednesday to join the boat, but has delayed her departure for a day to visit Elcho to see the Government Training Farm.



Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 25 Feb 1926 (p.60):

Miss Chomley Chats about “Her Twins”

Well-Known Australian off to England Again

Miss Mary Chomley is leaving Australia on her return to England feeling very pleased with the progress of “My twins,” as she calls them, the said twins being the Victoria League of Victoria and the Arts and Crafts Society.  This is how she described them in their infancy, when she was acting as honorary secretary to both, and was assiduously fostering their feeble efforts.  After she went to live in England she could do very little for the Victorian Arts and Crafts, but she continued with the Victoria League, and has watched its good work with keen interest even when she was plunged deep in war work.

Since her return the Arts and Crafts movement has particularly attracted her, and she is delighted to see the progress it has made, and the good influence it has exerted.

“When it was started as the outcome of the Women’s Exhibition, it was a very small thing,” she explains.  “Now I am told that at their last exhibition they sold over a thousand pounds’ worth of goods.  That is splendid.  But that is not the greatest thing; it is the high standard that the work of the Arts and Crafts is setting which is influencing taste all round.  It is firmly established on its feet now.  I should like to see it put upon a business basis, with a paid attendant on duty so that it could be open during the regular shop hours.  I believe in paid attendants when they can be induced to take a real interest in the work.  There is an art in salesmanship, which the professional acquires by experience, and knows just how much interest and encouragement to display.

“The numbers that visit the periodical exhibitions is a most encouraging feature, for there was an Arts and Crafts display in London, which included much beautiful work.  It attracted me greatly, and I paid it many visits, but I never saw another person there, on any occasion.  This must have been terribly discouraging.”

Miss Chomley hopes to stimulate migration when she gets back.  “I hope to tell them from personal observation of the real conditions and chances here, and, also of some of my experiences.  The trouble is if you tell of hard-working British settlers who have prospered and now own two or three houses they will come out and ask at once, ‘Where are the houses for us?’  They are so stupid, and build such wrong ideas from what they are told, never realizing that it all depends upon their own attitude towards things here, and their own industry.  I was speaking to some Australian girls the other day upon war experiences, and how girls in England have been settling down.  Telling them I always like to speak to groups, I went towards a little knot of girls, and was speaking to them quietly, when one said, ‘Yes, I know; I am English.  They don’t know there was a war here.’  Now this attitude is mistaken.  She meant to hurt those other girls, and show them how much superior was her knowledge.  I pointed out to her quietly that was not the way to make friends here.  One of the Australians explained, ‘We were so far away, it was hard to realise.’  But the fact remains that most of them had brothers, or relatives, or ‘a boy’ there, and had been through the strain and anxiety.  I want to try and impress upon English girls that it is a big mistake to assume this attitude if they intend to come and live here.”

The Australian girl has a staunch advocate in Miss Mary Chomley.  “I had heard dreadful things about the girl of today in Australia,” she says; “but when I came out I was delighted to discover there were still many charming, refined girls in society.  I think the manners of our Australian girls are delightful; so unaffected and natural.  Of course, there is a percentage of selfish, pleasure-seeking girls, whose attitude towards men in accepting all kinds of favors is indefensible, in England as well, just now, unfortunately, in a small proportion.  They are just middle-class, of bad form, inherently vulgar, and not very intelligent; but the standard is rising to the old refined level.”



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 5 Jun 1926 (p.58):


LONDON, April 29

Miss Mary Chomley has returned from a visit to Australia.



The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld), Tue 1 Feb 1927 (p.3):


Miss Freda Bage, M.Sc., who was a substitute delegate to the League of Nations Assembly at Geneva, and who has just returned to Australia, writing prior to leaving London, to friends in Brisbane gives some interesting details of her experiences.


Miss Bage had tea with Miss Mary Chomley at the Royal Colonial Institute.  …………




The Herald (Melb, Vic), Sat 3 Mar 1928 (p.12):


English Speaking Union in London


“Another organization that is doing wonderful things in the way of showing overseas visitors hospitality is The Victoria League.  ………………………..

Miss Mary Chomley, a well-known Australian, who is a member of the Victoria League committee, is always glad to put Australians in touch with interesting people and places.  On these excursions the visitors go in groups, and arrangements are so well organized that travelling expenses are very light indeed – a great advantage to the traveler of moderate means.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 14 Apr 1928 (p.17):




At the end of 1917 she was made assistant commissioner of the Australian Red Cross in London, ……………………………………………Insert other media

When the prisoners of war came back she and Miss Mary Chomley had to visit all the camps, which entailed much travelling about the country and coming in contact with many interesting people.  …………………………….



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 9 Jun 1928 (p.19):


Rear-Admiral and Lady Creswell are sailing for Australia by the Orvieto.  Miss Mary Chomley, of Melbourne, gave a pleasant little farewell tea party for them at the Royal Colonial Institute before their departure.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 4 Aug 1928 (p.19):


LONOND, June 28

Mrs Arthur Chomley and her daughter are returning to Sydney by the Demosthenes.  Miss Mary Chomley gave a farewell party in their honour at the Royal Colonial Institute last week.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Fri 30 Jan 1931 (p.10):


The town clerk (Mr H.C. Ingleton) has received from Miss M.E. Chomley, O.B.E., of Surrey, forty-five small engravings, illustrating life on Bendigo, Forest Creek, Ironbark, Eaglehawk and Fryer’s Creek gold diggings in 1852.  In a covering letter, Miss Chomley stated that the engravings had been given to Brigadier-General W.H. Dobbie during one of his visits to Australia, and his widow (Miss Chomley’s aunt) had asked her to send the engravings to Bendigo city council.  Mrs Dobbie is a granddaughter of one of the oldest pioneers of Victoria, Dr Thomas Black, who arrived in New South Wales in 1833.  He settled in Melbourne in 1841, and died at St Kilda in 1894, aged 95 years.  The city council on Thursday accepted the engravings with gratitude on account of their great historical interest.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 22 Dec 1933 (p.10):


Miss Mary Chomley will arrive in Australia in the Mongolia on January 8.  She will be accompanied by her two sisters, the Misses Eilleen and Aubrey Chomley.  Miss Chomley has been living in England since 1914, during which time she has made two short visits to Australia, once on private business and once on behalf of the British Government.  Sir Harrison and Lady Moore have lent their house, 436 Punt Hill, South Yarra, to Miss Chomley and her sisters, where they will be for a few weeks after their arrival.



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Mon 8 Jan 1934 (p.5):


[photo of Mary]




The Argus (Melb, Vic), Tue 9 Jan 1934 (p.8):


Gift From London Bookseller

A copy of the Geneva version of the Bible, believed to have been published in 1589, has been presented as a Centenary gift to the State of Victoria by Mr W.A. Foyle, the head of a London bookselling firm.  The Premier (Sir Stanley Argyle) was informed of the gift in a letter which he received yesterday from the Agent-General for Victoria in London (Mr R. Linton) who said that it was due entirely to the initiative of Miss Mary Chomley that this ancient and historically valuable Bible had been acquired by the State.  He had arranged for Miss Chomley to bring the Bible with her and to present it personally.  Miss Chomley arrived in Melbourne yesterday by the Mongolia.

According to authorities, the Geneva version of the Bible was regarded by scholars of the 16th century as of great distinction for its accuracy.  With other versions, however, it was supplanted by the Authorised Version, which was published in 1611.




Miss Mary Chomley, who returned by the Mongolia yesterday, has brought news of some interesting Victorian relics for the Victoria League Centenary Exhibition.





[Page 10: photo of the 3 Chomley sisters – not very clear]

Interested in every aspect of social work and in every phase of women’s activities, Miss Mary Chomley has returned to Melbourne to make her home here.  It is eight years since she has visited Melbourne, and in that time Miss Chomley has identified herself closely with many interests in Virginia Water, in Surrey, England, where she and her sisters, the Misses Eilleen and Aubrey Chomley, have been living.

As former honorary secretary of the Victoria League in Victoria Miss Chomley before she left London visited the Victoria rooms at Kensington Palace with the Dowager Countess of Jersey, who founded the Victoria League, to choose the personal relics of Queen Victoria which their Majesties the King and Queen have consented to lend to the Victoria League’s exhibition for the Centenary.

The relics will arrive in Melbourne in time for the league to arrange an exhibition of rooms furnished in the period of a hundred years ago early in the Centenary year.  Queen Mary is taking an active interest in the exhibition and is giving a beautiful woolwork screen which once belonged to Queen Victoria.  The embroidery is after a picture by Landseer of Queen Victoria’s macaw and her favourite dogs.  When the exhibition is over the screen will be presented to the State of Victoria by Her Majesty.

During the war Miss Chomley will be remembered as head of the prisoners of war branch of the British Red Cross Society.  Since then she has taken a keen interest in the branch of the women’s institute in Virginia Water.  She was chairman of the local women’s section of the British Legion.  At present the Misses Chomley are staying at Sir Harrison and Lady Moore’s house in South Yarra.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 10 Jan 1934 (p.15):


Before leaving for Olinda, where she will spend the next four weeks, Lady Moore gave a delightfully informal party at her home in South Yarra in honour of Miss Mary Chomley and her sisters, the Misses Eilleen and Aubrey Chomley, who arrived from England this week and who will occupy Lady Moore’s South Yarra home until her return to town.  Radiant flowers adorned the reception-rooms.  The gathering included:-

Lady Miller (who received many good wishes for her visit to England), Lady Creswell, Lady Mitchell, Mrs Reginald Boyd, Misses Gwenda and Mary Boyd, Mrs Arthur Morris, Mrs David Grant, Mrs Rawdon Chomley, Misses Kathleen and Barbara Chomley, Miss Elsa Grice, Mrs Rupert Greene, Miss Macmullen, Miss Edith Hogg, Mrs John Gurner, Miss Brenda Gurner, Miss O’Loghlen, Miss A Weigall, and Miss Rita Watson.




The Herald (Melb, Vic), Sat 27 Jan 1934 (p.16):


Miss Mary Chomley’s Gentle Protest

VICTORIANISM – somehow the term suggests an ugly era.  Perhaps because for so long it has been customary to scoff at the social domestic and fashion sphere in the Royal reign that began in 1837.  To the moderns Victoria the Good was surely too good.  Victorianism sets some of us thinking of candles and snuffers, hideous gas jets, chignons and pork pie hats, Dundreary whiskers and pomposity – in short, a medley of unpleasant incidentals perhaps best forgotten.  Miss Mary Chomley, O.B.E., begs to differ.  She has a sneaking regard for the Victorian period – part of it, at any rate.  She proffered a gentle protest today.

“I do not think that it is quite fair to label the early Victorian period as hideous.  Some of the best specimens of English furniture were made by craftsmen in the last ten years of the eighteenth century,” she declared.  “This influence permeated into the early Victorian era.  It is true that taste declined later, when machine-made goods began to flood the market, and when some of the crudities of the Great Exhibition left their mark on household belongings.  I am hoping that the exhibition of English furniture and relics belonging to the period from 1837 to about 1850, which will be held in Melbourne, as the Victoria League contribution to the Centenary celebrations, will help to remove the unjust reproach that ugliness dominated the Victorian era.  One should not forget that 1830-1840 is known as the Romantic Period.  This was before the rush and turmoil of modern life had begun.”

The idea of holding this exhibition came to Miss Chomley after visiting a famous collection of early Victorian treasures displayed in London, two years ago, in a five-roomed house in Bruton Street, in keeping with the age of the relics, which have now been placed in Kensington Palace to form a permanent exhibition of the early Victorian era.  Through the personal interest of Queen Mary, some of these treasures will be placed on loan for the forthcoming exhibition in Melbourne.  Her Majesty is making a contribution herself – a pictorial screen, worked in Italian embroidery with a Landseer study of Queen Victoria’s favorite dogs and her Macaw, forming the subject of the picture.  This screen will remain in Victoria.  The Queen has made it a gift to the State.

“Who broached the suggestion to the Queen that some of these Kensington Palace treasures might be lent to Australia?”

Miss Chomley had a long answer to this question – Royalty was reached by a circuitous route, as it were.

“I put the suggestion to Miss Drayton, secretary of the Victoria League.  She got in touch with the Dowager Lady Jersey, the League’s president.  Lady Jersey interviewed Sir Cecil Harcourt Smith, Keeper of the King’s Treasures, who approached the Queen, and Her Majesty brought the appeal before the King.  So that was that.”

A 100-year old London firm, Messrs Cowton and Son, which has papered the walls of all the Royal palaces in England and also the walls of many historic homes, has made a most generous contribution to the early Victorian exhibition in Melbourne.  Mr Cowton has made a gift of wallpapers which will be similar to those used in the Kensington Palace rooms, housing the nation’s early Victorian relics.  While conferring with Mr Cowton, Miss Chomley was shown mounted samples of wallpapers, dated and named, that furnished a complete record of the firm’s orders almost throughout its long history.

Miss Chomley’s ambition is to hold the exhibition in a house of early Victorian character.  She has been busy looking for one since she arrived from England a few weeks ago, but so far the search has been fruitless.  However, she is pushing on with her plans, and at an early date a committee will be formed to make arrangements for the holding of the exhibition.



The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 24 Mar 1934 (p.10):


Friends of Miss Mary Chomley will be grieved to hear that she is in Osmington private hospital (Melbourne), following a serious attack of influenza.  With her sisters, Miss Chomley has had a flat in Punt Hill, South Yarra, which they will occupy until they take possession of the house they have bought in Washington street, Toorak.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 27 Apr 1934 (p.10):


Miss Mary Chomley will spend the next week with Mrs Reginald Boyd at Rowsley, Bacchus Marsh.  With her sisters, she will go into residence early in May at the house they have bought in Washington street, Toorak.



The West Australian (Perth, WA), Mon 19 Nov 1934 (p.4):


MELBOURNE, Nov 12 – It was a happy thought that prompted Miss Mary Chomley in February, 1933, to suggest that the Victoria League’s contribution to the Melbourne centenary celebrations should be an Early Victorian exhibition.

Certainly of the many excellent and enticing things to see here at the moment this exhibition, which was opened on October 8 by the Governor of Victoria (Lord Huntingfield), is one that no one would wish to miss.  It is a delight from start to finish and the treasures it includes have been gathered from famous collections in London and also from Australian families whose names figure prominently in Victorian history.

Centrally situated in a spacious hall in the Commonwealth Bank building in Collins-street, it has attracted many thousands of people and the closing date has been extended as a consequence from November 6 to November 17.  The proceeds will be devoted to the bush library and magazine section of the Victorian League.  ……………….




Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 16 May 1935 (p.29):


Mrs Ernest Poolman, who is president of the South Yarra and St Kilda Branch of the St Martin’s Homes for Boys, lent her home in Domain Road, South Yarra, for a most successful bridge party, the proceeds of which will go towards the home.  ……………...

Other helpers included ……………, and the Misses Mary Chomley, Estelle Brett, …….



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Tue 27 Aug 1935 (p.10):


“Fair and Famous Women”

Probably only the committee knows how much credit is due to Miss Mary Chomley for her work for the exhibition of portraits of “Fair and Famous Women”, which was opened by Lady Irvine yesterday afternoon, and which Lady Huntingfield will open again to-day at 3 pm at Scots Church Hall, Russell street.

Nearly every one of more than 400 portraits belongs to Miss Chomley, and her annotations to the catalogue, which it was hoped at one time would be published in full, are a valuable contribution.

When Lady Irvine opened the exhibition yesterday she gave an outline of the history of the little church of St Katherine at St Helena, which, it is hoped, may be restored with funds raised by the exhibition.  “Because of its history and because of its beauty, it is felt that St Katherine’s should belong to Victoria as much as to the diocese in which it is situated, and so it is to Victoria that we appeal for funds to restore it to its old beauty,” Lady Irvine said.  Lady Irvine was introduced by the chairman of the committee (Lady Creswell), who presented her with a posy of primroses and hyacinths.  Afterwards she was the guest of the committee at tea.  The Rev T.R. Mappin, who is the honorary treasurer, also spoke.

The hall has been divided by screens into a series of alcoves, where the prints and photographs of pictures by great artists are hung in groups according to the schools to which they belong.  The little group of paintings and etchings of St Katherine’s by Victor Cobb is a delightful commentary on the objects of the exhibition.

This evening Mr Norman MacGeorge will lecture there on “Some Famous Women in Art and History,” with epidiascope illustrations.  The exhibition will be open to-day and to-morrow from 10.30 to 6 pm, and again at 8 pm.  On Wednesday the opening ceremony will be performed by the vicar-general of the diocese (Bishop Booth), at 3 pm.  At 8.30 pm Miss Mary Cecil Allen will lecture on “Women in Modern Art.”

Mrs Henry Maudsley is the honorary secretary, and other committee members are Miss Chomley, Mrs Harold Brookes, Mrs W.S.P. Godfrey, Miss Theo Lucas, Mrs Newbolt, Mrs Evelyn Snodgrass, Miss Ethel Spowers, Mrs Oswald Syme, Mr R.H. Croll, Dr Alan Mackay, Mr A.W. Cecil Martin, Mr Marcus Martin, and Mr John Oldham.



Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 29 Aug 1935 (p.16):


Nearly every picture in the exhibition of prints and photographs of pictures by distinguished artists of fair and famous women which was opened at Scots Church Hall last Monday afternoon, are owned by Miss Mary Chomley, the result of some intensive collecting on her many travels.  This exhibition, which finishes tonight with a lecture by Miss Mary Allen, has been arranged to raise funds for the restoration of St Katherine’s church and churchyard at St Helena.

St Katherine’s is a tiny church with a romantic history all its own, dating back to the middle of the last century, and has become in the present day a popular resort for sightseers.

When I called in Monday morning, I found Miss Chomley, busy with shoe, nailing up some pictures, but I managed to drag her away from her work long enough to learn from her the history of some of the pictures.  One of the most interesting was Botticelli’s Venus, which is the portrait of Simonetta Cattaneo, a young Genoese maiden who, at the age of 15, became the wife of Marco Vespucci, a native of Florence.  This girl died at a very young age, and she was so beloved by the people that when she was carried through the streets of Florence on the way to her grave, her coffin was left open and her face uncovered so that the people might see her once again for the last time.

Then there is the picture of the Virgin and Child by Cimabue, which is of the Italian school, a school which in those days was becoming staid and stiff.  The people of the country were so excited at the result of this artist’s work that when his picture was finished they carried it through the streets in solemn procession, to the fanfare of trumpets, from his house to the church where it was hung.

A plebiscite will be taken for the most beautiful women in the exhibition, and Lady Creswell has given one of Victor Cobb’s etchings, which will be presented to the winner.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Sat 2 Nov 1935 (p.21):

Charming Setting for Tea Party

There was a personal charm and intimacy about the tea party given yesterday afternoon by Miss Mary Chomley and her sisters – the Misses Eileen and Aubrey Chomley – at their home in Washington street, Toorak.  The pretty creamy-ivory house with its great pots of cinerarias on the ivory plaza, its Italian mosaics, and gay sun-blind made a perfect setting, and each room was gay with bowls of roses, foxgloves, and variegated iris.  Miss Mary Chomley wore a deep cornflower blue chiffon gown.  ………………………




The Age (Melb, Vic), Fri 21 Aug 1936 (p.12):

Club Members Show Sketches

An afternoon gathering at which members of the Victoria League Club showed their own sketches and water colors proved a great success yesterday.  The idea was sponsored by the president of the club, Miss Mary Chomley, and enthusiastically taken up by members.  Almost every part of the world was illustrated in one or other of the sketches, which were arranged around the room.  There were many of Italy, some of Spain, others of Australian and of England; there were still-life studies and portraits tellingly sketched in.  At the invitation of the members Miss Edith Alsop made a tour of inspection of all the pictures and selected what she considered the best of each member’s work, and these were placed together in a special part of the room.  Among those who brought pictures were Miss Chomley, Mrs Gover Williams, Miss A. Currie, Mrs Runting, Mrs Moffat Pender, Miss Lewis, Mrs Walter Cobham and Lady Creswell.

Members of the club committee present were Miss Chomley, Mrs Courtney Dix and Miss E. Davidson.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Mon 14 Sept 1936 (p.10):


Rose Chapel at St Helena

A large crowd witnessed the dedication of a stone gateway at the historic St Katharine’s Rose chapel at St Helena, near Greensborough, on Saturday afternoon.  Erected to the memory of the pioneers, one of whom, Anthony Beale, built this picturesque church, the gateway was dedicated by the Bishop of Geelong (Bishop Booth), and officially declared open by Lady Creswell.

The vicar (Rev. T.R. Mappin) paid a tribute to the women who, led by Miss Chomley, had made this and other improvements possible.  ………………………



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Sat 12 Jun 1937 (p.32):


To enable some of her friends to see the new rooms of the Arts and Crafts Society in Albany Court, Collins street, Miss Mary Chomley gave an enjoyable tea party yesterday morning.  The guests included Lady Bruche, Miss E.F. Chomley, Miss A.J. Chomley, Mrs A.H. Sargood, ………………………………..



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Sat 28 Aug 1937 (p.26):

To Meet Lady Bruche

The president (Miss Mary Chomley) and members of the Victoria League Club had the happy idea of giving a tea party in the clubrooms yesterday to welcome the new senior vice-president of the league (Lady Bruche).

The rooms were gay with bowls of poppies and sunlight streamed through the windows, giving a spring-tide air.  Miss Chomley wore a black tailored suit with fox furs and a black velvet hat, and the guest of honour pinned a spring posy into her coat of black diagonal striped wool, worn with a closely fitting little cap.  The vice-president of the club (Mrs Latreille) wore a black ensemble, with a pink camellia posy and a black cap with a small veil.

Assisting Miss Chomley was the general secretary of the league (Mrs Stanley Addison).




The Age (Melb, Vic), Fri 19 Aug 1938 (p.3):


At Arts And Crafts Gallery

So that members of the Arts and Craft Society might meet Baroness Hedwig Rappe, Miss M. Chomley arranged a pleasant afternoon tea party yesterday afternoon at the society’s galleries, Albany-court.

The society is planning to hold a special display of Swedish handcraft at the forthcoming annual exhibition, and a number of Swedish residents in Melbourne are co-operating with the members to make the display a success.  When she was in Melbourne some months ago Baroness Rappe gave the society a great deal of help, and arranged for some special examples of craft work to be forwarded from Sweden for display.  It was to enable the members to express their thanks that yesterday’s party took place during the guest of honor’s brief stay in Melbourne, for she is on her way back to Sweden.  ………….



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 25 Oct 1938 (p.15):

Club Chairwoman Welcomed

Mrs Rupert Greene, who was elected chairwoman of the Victoria League Club during her absence abroad, was welcomed today when the Play Reading Circle of the Education Committee gave a reading of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ this afternoon.

Mrs Green was welcomed by the retiring chairwoman (Miss Chomley) and after the reading there was a club tea party.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Thur 2 Feb 1939 (p.3):

Social Notes

Miss Mary Chomley, who will travel to England via New Zealand, is leaving on Wednesday next by the Wanganella.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Tue 7 Feb 1939 (p.7):

The Life of Melbourne

For Miss Mary Chomley

In honour of Miss Mary Chomley, the vice-president of the Arts and Crafts Society who is leaving for England to-morrow, the president (Mr W.A.M. Blackett) gave a tea party yesterday at the Wattle.

Among those present were the first president of the society (Lady Cresswell), Mr Marcus Martin (vice-president) Mrs John Parks (treasurer), and the following committee members:- Miss Edith Alsop, Miss Eva Butchart, Miss Edith Alsop, Miss Ann Montgomery, Mr J.S. Forman, Mr Frank Walker, and Mr R.H. Croll, and Mrs Gordon Johnston.

The secretary (Miss L Beaty) presented a spray of gardenias to Miss Chomley.



Evening Post (NZ), 25 Feb 1939:


The following passengers were booked to leave Wellington by the Tamaroa, which sailed yesterday afternoon for Southampton and London, via the Panama Canal: –

Miss E.F. Chomley, Miss A.J. Chomley, Miss M.E.M. Chomley, ………………



The Age (Melb, Vic), Thur 11 May 1939 (p.4):

It was decided at the annual meeting of the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria, ……….

Mr Blackett announced with regret the resignation of Mrs O.J. Syme as vice-president and Miss Mary Chomley from the council, ………………….



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Mon 15 Jan 1940 (p.5):


Miss Mary Chomley, who was awarded the order of the British Empire for her work for prisoners during the last war, and her sisters, the Misses Eilleen and Aubrey Chomley, reached Melbourne last week, having returned from England by air.

Miss Chomley said yesterday that there was a "splendid feeling of quiet and calm confidence in England about this war." She had spoken to many evacuated children and evacuated mothers, and the general attitude toward their cheerful stay in the country was cheerful and appreciative.

There were thousands of young women and girls in uniform, many of whom had had professional training. One of the last gatherings Miss Chomley attended was the opening of the Victoria League's Club for Overseas Soldiers by Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone. The club was housed in the women's hostel "opposite" the London University, and would make an ideal "home away from home" for men on leave.

The Misses Chomley intend to settle at 9 Washington street, Toorak, which has been the home of some members of the family for many years.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Sat 11 May 1940 (p.21):

French Red Cross

Members of the French Red Cross have arranged an exhibition of reproductions of masterpieces, lent by Miss Mary Chomley, at “Arron,” Shipley-street, South Yarra, on Thursday afternoon, May 23, to assist refugees from Alsace.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Fri 14 Jun 1940 (p.15):

Victoria League Hospitality

As part of their war work, members of the Victoria League are organising a hospitality bureau in connection with Air Force House, and a list of 500 hostesses is being compiled under the direction of Miss Mary Chomley.

Members undertaking this form of war service are asked to give home hospitality either by day or for week ends, for inter-State and country members of the R.A.A.F. who have no relatives or personal friends in Melbourne.

Both town and country hostesses are wanted, and all types of hospitality, from a family meal to a dance party, a day’s sport or a week end in the country.  Members of the league who would be willing to assist in any way can communicate with Miss Chomley or the Victoria League office, Collins-street.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Fri 15 Jun 1940 (p.15):

Social Notes

Miss Mary Chomley will be the speaker at a club tea arranged by the members of the Victoria League Club on June 20.  Her subject will be A Trip by Air From England During War-time.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Thur 19 Sept 1940 (p.3):


Arts and Crafts Show

Fifteen countries were represented in the international pageant that was a picturesque feature of the programme at the Arts and Crafts Society’s exhibition at 9 Darling-street last night.  ……………………………………

The programme for the evening was arranged by Miss Mary Chomley, assisted by Miss Winifred Hall, ………………



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Sat 7 Dec 1940 (p.11):

Booked-out But Billets Found

When last night the accommodation at Air Force House was booked out, Victoria League Hospitality Bureau, which is situated at Air Force House, found billets for more than 100 waiting men.

Mrs W. Riddell and Miss Chomley, acting for the league’s hospitality bureau, called on people in homes all over Melbourne, from Sandringham to Ringwood, to provide week-end or over-night accommodation for airmen.

Each week the bureau has been successful in finding billets for men who cannot book at Air Force House, so that there are no airmen left to wander about seeking a room for the night.

The bureau is already beginning to billet for Christmas leave, and will welcome offers of accommodation for airmen on leave during that period.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 14 Mar 1941 (p.8):

World of Women

Victoria League Entertains

Representatives of groups of women who offer hospitality to airmen were entertained yesterday at the Victoria League, Collins st, by the Victoria League Hospitality Bureau.

They were welcomed by Miss Mary Chomley (director) and the hostesses were…………



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 2 May 1941 (p.6):


In proposing the adoption of the annual report at the annual meeting of Victorian Women Journalists’ war service committee held yesterday at the boardroom, ……………..

Miss Mary Chomley, representing Victoria League hospitality committee, in moving the adoption of the treasurer’s report, also referred to the value of the work of the women journalist’s war service committee.  ………………………



The Age (Melb, Vic), Sat 4 Jul 1942 (p.4):


To-day is the second anniversary of the opening of the Victoria League hospitality bureau at Air Force House, and in the past two years 115,000 men have received hospitality through the bureau, an average of 1200 men each week.

This splendid record has been maintained consistently, and many kinds of hospitality have been arranged, including dances, picture and theatre parties, and week-end hospitality in both suburban and country homes.  Hospitality has been found for men who have just left hospital and are convalescing before resuming their duties.

Many men bringing their wives from other States have appealed to the bureau assistants to find homes for them, and they have usually been successful; also, in cases of illness, hospital accommodation has been arranged.

There are 27 members of the league acting as voluntary helpers at the bureau, working on three shifts a day, for seven days a week, under the direction of Miss Mary Chomley.

Yesterday Mrs C. Skinner, who interviews all the hostesses, paid a tribute to the wonderful response which had always been given by both men and women to all appeals for hospitality.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 24 Jan 1945 (p.4):



Sir: Perhaps the following extracts from letters just received from my nephew, Captain Malcolm Morris, Coldstream Guards, now serving abroad, might be of interest:

Nov 11: “Holland is quite as wet as I had always imagined it to be.  The only compensation is the unfailing kindliness and hospitality of the Dutch.  Even if we have spent the previous day knocking flat every second house (quite often a considerably higher proportion), they still greet us enthusiastically as liberators.”  And again, on Jan 6: “I have just had a most enjoyable six days.  I was sent on a course in a town where the (Guards) brigade is very popular.  The course itself was quite hard work, but outside working time I thoroughly enjoyed myself, living in very much greater comfort than I had known for a considerable time.  The Dutch even outdo the Belgians in the marvellous hospitality which they offer us.”

Captain Morris is a son of the late Dr Arthur Morris, of Melbourne, and grandson of my father, the late Judge Chomley, and is an old Geelong Grammar School boy and a BA of Oxford.  It would be nice for the Dutch people now in Melbourne to hear how much their kindness is appreciated. – (Miss) M.E. CHOMLEY (Toorak).



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Thur 15 Nov 1945 (p.8):


A Big Job Over

Over a cup of tea this afternoon Miss Chomley, senior vice-president of the Victoria League in Victoria, and chairman of its hospitality bureau, told of the amazing success of this bureau’s activities during the war.  Almost a half million men of the Air Force have, through its office at Air Force House, been provided with entertainment, and often a holiday or rest in a home during their brief periods of leave in this city.  The league would like to thank every woman who has been a hostess for the bureau since it opened in 1940, but obvious reasons forbid, and Miss Chomley can only say whenever the subject comes up how deep is the appreciation of the league of the unselfish way in which the women when rung up, often at a few minutes’ notice, opened their homes to the airmen in this city.  She feels that the kindliness thus evinced will surely find an outlet in work of value to the postwar world.  The bureau at Air Force House closes on December 1.



Weekly Times (Melb, Vic), Wed 21 Nov 1945 (p.22):

Thousands Entertained

Nearly half a million Air Force men have received hospitality through the Victoria League Hospitality Bureau at Air Force House.  The bureau is to close on December 1.

The bureau has been functioning daily since July, 1940, when Air Force House was opened, …………………………………….

The chairwoman of the bureau committee (Miss M. Chomley), and the hon. secretary (Mrs Cluney Harkness), and the hon. treasurer (Mrs E.E. Davies), said last week that the League could never be sufficiently grateful to the hostesses who had made their homes available, and that they wished it were possible to thank each one personally.

The bureau had about 200 billeting hostesses on its books, a further 200 hostesses for Sunday dinner, and 50 for Saturday afternoon entertainment.

“The hostesses were wonderful.  They took in boys, often overcrowding their homes, and at great inconvenience to themselves.  In spite of food difficulties, and the many inconveniences of wartime living, they continued to billet boys.  Often a boy would become a friend of the family, and spend all his leave with them after making his first contact through the bureau,” Miss Chomley said.  ………………………



The Age (Melb, Vic), Tue 4 Dec 1945 (p.5):


Friends of Miss M. Chomley, convener of the hospitality committee of the Victoria League, will regret to hear she is ill.  She is in Mercy Hospital.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Sat 14 Dec 1946 (p.10):






The Argus (Melb, Vic), Mon 31 Mar 1947 (p.6):


Rain did not spoil the success of the garden fete arranged by the Victoria League, and held at the home of Mr and Mrs I.M. Moffatt-Pender, Court House, Gordon gve, South Yarra, on Saturday.  Objects of the fete were to raise money for the Food for Britain appeal, and to send reading matter to servicemen in Japan and to isolated settlers in the outback.  Miss Mary Chomley was organiser.  ………………

The amount raised at the fete was more than £400.



Weekly Times (Melb, Vic), Wed 3 Sept 1947 (p.39):


Although there were many oversea visitors, new members and visiting members at the tea party given by the chairman (Miss Mary Chomley) and the committee of the Victoria League Club last week, everyone soon knew everyone else, for the hostesses made a splendid job of introducing people, an important factor in the making of a successful party which so many hostesses overlook.  ………………………………




The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 29 Sept 1948 (p.7):

The Life of Melbourne

Admirers of the work of the late Sir Arthur Streeton visited the Sedon Galleries yesterday to see an exhibition of his water-colours, some of which are on loan.

Visitors included …………………  Other interested onlookers were ……………….., Miss Mary Chomley, and her sister, Miss E.F. Chomley.  Exhibition will remain open until October 8.



The Age (Melb, Vic), Wed 27 Jul 1949 (p.6):

People and Parties

Afternoon Tea

Following the annual meeting of the Victoria League in Victoria, held in Melbourne Town Hall, Lady Herring, accompanied by Miss Kathleen Deasey, was entertained at afternoon tea in the Victoria League Club rooms.  She was welcomed by the senior vice-president, Mrs Guy Bakewell, and by Mrs Stanley Langdon, who is the recently elected chairman of the club, replacing Miss Mary Chomley, retiring chairman.



The Argus (Melb, Vic) Thur 25 May 1950 (p.12):

Victoria League shows its work in field day


Another League foundation member well to the fore was stalwart Miss Mary Chomley. ...



The Age (Melb, Vic), Sat 3 Feb 1951 (p.5):

Victoria League Has Grown With the State

In April the Victoria League in London will celebrate its jubilee, when 50 years of promoting friendship and understanding between people living in the British Commonwealth of Nations will be commemorated.

The league in Victoria, though established seven years later than the parent body, has its own individual story of development.  …………………………..

The foundation meeting was held in the Melbourne Town Hall on May 23, 1908.  ……..

Foundation Member

Unfaded memories of this first meeting are held by Miss M.E. Chomley, first honorary secretary, who is the only foundation member in Victoria still living.  She is now chairman of the education committee and vice-chairman of the league club committee.


Miss Chomley remembers early difficulties in accommodating the league’s committees.  The group preparing books to be sent out, she recalls, worked at their binding and packing in the carriage house at Lady Mitchell’s home.  ………………………………





The Herald (Melb, Vic), Mon 2 Apr 1951 (p.8):

In Town And Out

League’s Jubilee

Coinciding with the Victoria League’s golden jubilee celebrations in London today, the League in Victoria will hold a reception at the Hotel Windsor this afternoon.  ………..

Among the 180 guests will be Miss Mary Chomley, the first honorary secretary when the League was formed in Victoria in 1908.  …………….



The Herald (Melb, Vic), Thur 19 Aug 1954 (p.23):



During the year the executive committee appointed Mrs Rupert Greene and Miss Mary Chomley life members of the executive in recognition of their many years of service to the League.  ………………………………….



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 21 Nov 1956 (p.13):


The Arts and Crafts Society’s annual exhibition in the Independent Hall, Collins st., is an eye opener to overseas visitors – it shows just what Australians can achieve in craft work.


Official guests at the exhibition included ………………….., and Miss Mary Chomley, one of the founders of the society.



The Age (Melb, Vic), 22 July 1960 (p.20):


CHOMLEY – On July 21, at her home, 9 Washington Street, Toorak, Mary Elizabeth Maud, daughter of the late Judge Chomley, in her 89th year.


CHOMLEY – The Funeral of the late Miss MARY ELIZABETH MAUD CHOMLEY will leave St John’s Church of England, Toorak, THIS DAY, after a service commencing at 3 p.m., for the St Kilda General Cemetery.



The Age (Vic), 25 July 1960 (p.6):

Death of Noted War Worker

Miss Mary Elizabeth Chomley of Washington Street, Toorak, who died last week, aged 88, was the foundation State secretary of the Victoria League and a distinguished member of it for 51 years.

She was the daughter of Judge Chomley of Dromkeen, Riddell’s Creek and a cousin of the first Dean of Melbourne (Very Rev Hussey-Burgh Macartney).

Miss Chomley was secretary of the Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work in 1908-9, and secretary of the Victoria League from 1909 to 1914.

In World War 1, she was on the staff of Princess Christian’s Hospital for Officers, London, in 1915-16, and was secretary of the Prisoners of War branch of the Australian Red Cross, London, from then until 1919.  Her O.B.E. was conferred in 1918.

She was a member of the delegation appointed by the British Government to report on conditions of work for women and the prospects for female migrants to Australia in 1919-20, and from 1928 to 1933 was president of the women’s section of the British Legion, Virginia Water, Surrey, England.

She was also Australian representative on the committee of the Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women.










It has been noted on the ‘womenaustralia’ website that Elizabeth was born in 1872, however the Vic Birth Reg Index lists her birth as being registered in 1871 in Malvern (reg. no. 24361).  The same website lists her death as 18 July 1960 – but the Victorian Probate Index lists it as 21/7/1960, it also lists Mary as a resident of Toorak, which is where her death was also registered.  (reg. no. 9579)


“Don’t Forget Me Cobber” (p.306)


Mary Elizabeth Chomley was born in 1872, the daughter of Arthur Wolfe Chomley who was the assistant Crown Prosecutor at the trial of Ned Kelly in 1880.  He later became a judge.  She was very active in women’s affairs in Victoria prior to going to London early in the war.  Initially she worked at Princess Christian’s Hospital for Officers, transferring in 1916, to become secretary of the Prisoners of War Department of Australian Red Cross in London, where she stayed until 1919.  She had been awarded the OBE in 1918.  After her work for the Red Cross she was involved in Britain in the overseas settlement of British women, and from 1928-33 president of the Women’s Section of the British Legion.  She later returned to Australia.  Mary Chomley died in Melbourne on 21 July 1960 and was buried at St Kilda Cemetery.



The Victoria League (some dates of office)

1908 – First Honorary Secretary of the newly formed Victoria League of Victoria

1936 – President of the Victoria League Club

1938 – Retired as Chairwoman of the VLC in October

1941 – Director of the Victoria League Hospitality Bureau at Air Force House

1945 – Senior vice-president of the Victorian branch, and Chairwoman of the Hospitality Bureau [which closed its doors 1/12/1945]

1947 – Vice-president of the Victoria League, and Chairman/woman of the Victoria League Club (retired as chairman mid 1949)

1951 – Chairman of the Education committee and vice-chairman of the League Club committee (the only Foundation member still living)

1954 – Appointed Life Membership



Mary is buried in the family plot at St Kilda Cemetery [CofE, Comparment C, Grave383]



Mary’s siblings:

1. Arthur Edward b.&d.1868 Malvern (19 days old)

2. Frederick Griffith b.1870 Prahran

3. Edith Gwendoline b.1873 Malvern, married Reginald Septimus BOYD in 1900

4. William Burgh b.1875 Malvern, (Assayer), died 4/8/1960, age 85

5. Julie Marguerite (Daisie) b.15/10/1878 Woodlands, St Kilda – married (Dr) Arthur Edward MORRIS 12/7/1910

6. Eileen Frances b.9/5/1880 Woodlands, St Kilda, died 1962, age 82 (unmarried)

7. Stawell Arthur b.&d.1881 St Kilda (4 months old)

8. Aubrey Joan b.16/1/1883 Woodlands, St Kilda, died 1977, age 93 (unmarried)



1934 photo of Eileen: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/149216172


Father (Arthur’s) Obit 1914: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/65593164




Arthur’s Brothers (Mary’s uncles) included:



*Hussey Malone CHOMLEY (1832 – 1906) – who was the Chief Commissioner of Police Mar 1881 – Jun 1902

Two of his grandsons fought in WW1 (sons of Alex Francis & Jessie CHOMLEY)

1. Lieut. Alec Leslie Rutherford CHOMLEY (6327), 3rd Div Artillery, 9/7/15 – 23/3/19

2. Rupert Rutherford CHOMLEY, AFC, 2/12/15 –

[see P.63 of “Geelong Grammarians” for details on both these men]



*Henry Baker CHOMLEY (d.1903) – he was the father of the writer C.H. CHOMLEY (Charles Henry 1868-1942)

[Henry Baker CHOMLEY married Eliza A’BECKETT in 1863]



The Sun (Syd, NSW), Sun 30 May 1915 (p.19):


Mrs C.H. Chomley and Miss Betty Chomley are staying at St Leonard’s-oSea.  Miss Isla Chomley is working at one of the military hospitals at St Jean de Luz, France.

Leader (Melb, Vic), Sat 25 Dec 1915 (p.50):



Miss Eila and Miss Frances Chomley, the daughters of Mr and Mrs C.H. Chomley, are working in a military hospital in France.



The Argus (Melb, Vic), Fri 8 Sept 1922 (p.12):


An Australian “Land Girl”

Something of the work done by the “land girls” in England during the war was mentioned recently by Miss Isa Chomley, whose father, Mr Charles Chomley, editor of the “British-Australasian” in London, was formerly a Melbourne journalist.  Miss Chomley has been spending a long holiday in Australia, after 14 years’ absence, and she expects to leave again about the end of September.  During the war she and her sister served for three years on a farm in Shropshire; and work on an English farm, as she describes it, sounds interesting, as well as hard.  ……………………………





*George Hanna CHOMLEY











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