Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

British nurse at Malta 1915


kjharris
 Share

Recommended Posts

Australian newspapers during WW1 have quite a lot of references to British nurses who looked after Australian sick and wounded. For example, at the link below is a photo of a British nurse with patients in Malta cNovember 1915.

"The sister sitting down is the best, bravest, and sweetest nurse we have. We simply love her."

1915 'AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS. IN HOSPITAL IN LONDON.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 13 November, p. 3, viewed 25 January, 2015,

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86101802

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Malta was the 'Nurse of the Mediterranean' and there were many hospitals throughout the island to look after casualties from Gallipoli. There are some British military nurses buried on the island who died during the First World War.

Pete

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kate,

My Grandmother was a nurse during the war and spent part of her time on hospital ships in the Mediterranean. After she retired she wrote a series of articles about here experiences for the R.V.H. League of Nurses Magazine (the RVH is the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast). In one of them she had this to say:

"Twice we carried a load of Australians who had been invalided out of the Service, to Alexandria, for transit by train to Suez, and thence home in their own ship. They were a lively crowd. On our first trip, out of the five hundred on board, a hundred and fifty were minus a leg, and five had lost both legs, but they didn't let such trivialities interfere with their amusements. They went all over the ship, from the engine room to as near the crow's nest as they could get, reporting periodically to us to have their injured stumps dressed. Any spare time they had was devoted to gambling; games of 'Housee' were constantly in session, and 'horse races' were run on the electric fans - each blade was marked with the name of a horse, the winner being the 'first passed the post' when the fan stopped. It was impossible to get through one's work in the ward without at least once accepting the invitation: 'Come on, Sister! Have a bit on the fan'. But only at the start had I any real trouble with them, and that was before I understood their lingo - and perhaps before they understood mine. It was part of my [duties] to check the Red Cross kits issued to each of them, and I accounted for all but one. This I could not trace. The Aussies were quite unable to make out what on earth I was worrying about, and I was equally at a loss to know what they were telling me - even when I implored them to speak English. Eventually I discovered the missing kit in the possession of a shell-shocked man who could speak only one word, and that was 'Beer'.

When we got on terms I liked them enormously, despite their wildness. Our first convoy had a week or two to spend in Alexandria before continuing their journey, and they spent it a good deal more out of than in the hospitals to which they were allotted. One morning, another Sister and myself met a party of three apparent Aussies in the street, exhibiting symptoms of marked jois de vivre. We recognised two of them but the third was a stranger. His companions explained that he was a British Tommy whom they met in hospital, and they had just naturally dressed him up in Australian uniform and brought him out to show him a good time.

Who can tell how much misery lay behind this light-hearted devilry? On each trip two Australian committed suicide. One, stopped while trying to get through a porthole, cut his throat in the night, though a special guard was beside his bed; another went quietly over the side of the ship and refused to see a life-buoy thrown to him. On a later trip, one of our British officers simply disappeared when we were in the middle of the Mediterranean. The only clues were a dressing-gown gone from a cabin and a pair of slippers with their toes pointed towards an open porthole.

Our ship had to lie up once for a month in Alexandria, during which we did duty in local hospitals, and, incidentally, experienced the Khamsin - the fiery, sand-laden wind from the desert. Luckily it lasted only a day, during which even the electric fans blew as if they were set in a furnace, and helped to distribute the sand over and into everything. Much more agreeable was a trip to Cairo, where we met some of our Australian patients on holiday."

It makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Pat

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great post Pat. Very interesting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Pat,

Apologies for not responding earlier and many thanks for your very interesting post. I would be most interested in your grandmother's name to see if she is on my database of nurses in the Mediterranean in 1915, and also to get a copy of the whole article.

many thanks

Kirsty

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
Guest ClaireCEdwards

Hello Kate

I hope you can help me. In a letter written by my paternal grandfather to a young girl who had knitted him socks (in 1915) (long and lovely story) he told of his siblings that had scattered all over the world, including "a sister to Malta". The two brothers who went to Australia were "at the Dardanelles". One was wounded, and "after his most serious wound he was sent into hospital at Malta. Of course our sister soon found him and helped to nurse him back to health."

What I was hoping is that you can help me identify which sister it was. The boys had 3 sisters: Edith Nelly Edwards; Florence Emma Edwards and Grace Beatrice Edwards.

My grandfather and two other brothers went to South Africa.

Thanks so much

Claire

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Claire

Unfortunately I do not have a nurse nor any volunteers by any of those names in my databases which are only for Australian women who served.

regards

Kirsty

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Pat. It does indeed make you feel melancholy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...