Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
frev

Mrs Avon Costello, Aus Red Cros Wkr, died March 1919 Egypt

Recommended Posts

frev

 

Jim - came across this lady this week - do you know of her? 

 

 

COSTELLO, Avon Emilie (Mrs) – War Worker, Australian Red Cross

 

Avon was born (Emilie Avon) on the 20th of September 1890 at Bombala, NSW – the daughter of James ALLAN and Mary A McNEE, who married in Bombala in 1890

 

Siblings (all born Bombala): Ora V I b.1892; James I b.1894; Ethelene A b.1895; Wallace L b.1898; Annie P b.1900; Maxim b.1906

 

She married Edward COSTELLO (Lieut, 11th LHR) on the 21st of April 1915 at the Ann Street Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, Qld, before he sailed for Egypt at the beginning of June 1915

 

 

WW1 Service:

Travelling to Egypt in July 1918 to join her husband, Avon “offered her services to the Red Cross Society as soon as she had settled in Heliopolis, and labored amongst the soldiers in one of the Cairenie Hospitals – assisting in the distribution of comforts and books to the patients, in taking parties of them for outings, and just prior to her last illness she worked in the Red Cross Kitchen [14th AGH], helping to prepare delicacies for invalid men….”

It was noted by the Australian Red Cross Commissioner for Egypt, that she “was a cheerful, willing and able worker and took charge of all departments of our hospital work while their responsible Heads were indisposed or were on leave.”

 

Unfortunately, in March 1919, there was an outbreak of smallpox in the 14th Australian General Hospital, and Avon contracted the disease.  Following 12 days of illness, she succumbed on the 16th (or 18th) of March 1919 at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Abbassia, Egypt.

She was buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery (as a civilian), and given a CWGC headstone (for uniformity of appearance), but is not amongst their commemorations.

 

https://billiongraves.com/grave/Avon-Costello/13889460

Headstone impossible to read – date of death listed as 18th March 1919

 

 

The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld), Sat 31 Oct 1914 (p.14):

SOCIAL GOSSIP

PERSONALITIES

The engagement is announced of Miss Avon E. Allan (eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Jas. Allan, Strathyre, late of Cathcart, Monaro, New South Wales) and Lieutenant Edward Costello (youngest son of Mr and Mrs Jas. Costello, Seagoe, Thane’s Creek).

 

Warwick Examiner and Times (Qld), Sat 24 Apr 1915 (p.3):

MILITARY WEDDING

COSTELLO – ALLAN

All the formalities attendant on a military wedding were accorded Lieutenant Edward Costello, of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Forces, youngest son of Mr and Mrs James Costello, of Seago, Thane’s Creek, Warwick district, who was married at mid-day on Wednesday to Miss Avon Allan, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs James Allan, Strathyne, Karara.  The ceremony took place at the Ann street Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, and though, with the exception of the military men, there were no invited guests, the church was thronged with spectators.  The officers of the 11th Regiment formed the guard of honour to the bride, and when leaving the church the bridal couple passed down the aisle beneath an archway of steel formed by the bridegroom’s fellow-officers, who were present in full force.  In the vestibule the newly-married couple received the congratulations of their friends, and on leaving the church again passed under crossed swords.  The ceremony was performed by Senior Chaplain Colonel Cosh, assisted by Chaplain Captain Gordon, who is the chaplain attached to the bridegroom’s regiment.  The bride was given away by Colonel Grant.

…………………………………………………………………….

 

 

14th Australian General Hospital War Diary – March 1919:

“During the month 8 cases of small-pox had developed in the hospital and one of the Red Cross lady workers – Mrs Costelloe – had also contracted the disease.  The latter & two of the patients succumbed.  These cases were promptly isolated & transferred to the Infectious Diseases Hospital.”

“Two of the nursing sisters – Staff Nurse E. Stephens, Staff Nurse L. Alton – volunteered to go and nurse the patients at the Infectious Hospital & their offer was gladly accepted.  I desire to place on record the noble self sacrifice of these ladies and to state that their action was greatly admired & appreciated.”

[AANS Nurses: Elizabeth Stephens & Lillian Howard Alton]

 

14th AGH War Diary, March 1919 – from the Matron’s Report:

During the month an Australian Red Cross worker & several patients developed small-pox.  They were transferred to the Egyptian Infectious Hospital, Abbassia.

Unfortunately the Red Cross worker & two of our men have died…..

 

 

Warwick Daily News (Qld), Wed 19 Mar 1919 (p.8):

PERSONAL

Cr J.A. Costello, of Thane’s Creek, yesterday received a cable conveying the sad intelligence that Mrs Costello, wife of Major Costello, had died in Egypt.  ………………………….

 

Warwick Daily News (Qld), Mon 7 Apr 1919 (p.4):

IN MEMORIAM – MRS EDWARD COSTELLO, THANE’S CREEK

The Warwick Presbyterian minister, the Rev. W. Parton Shinton, conducted yesterday in the Presbyterian Church, Thane’s Creek, a memorial service for Mrs Edward Costello, wife of Major Edward Costello, who is on active service.  The deceased lady recently died in Cairo.  The service was attended by the bereaved families, and the church was crowded with sympathising friends from near and far.

…………………………………………………………

 

Warwick Daily News (Qld), Wed 28 May 1919 (p.8):

THE LATE MRS E.C. COSTELLO – DETAILS OF HER ILLNESS AND DEATH – AN APPRECIATION

[Includes Photo]

Further particulars of the sad death of Mrs Edward Costello, in Egypt, have been received in letters from Major Costello himself.  She was enjoying her usual good health to the beginning of March and took ill on the 3rd.  In the course of a few days, it was evident to her medical adviser that she had contracted smallpox of a severe type.  She was removed to the Isolation Hospital in Cairo and Major Costello immediately telegraphed for.  It took three days to reach Port Said from Syria, and another three hours to train thence to Cairo, but the trip was accomplished in as short a time as was possible.  A little band of friends, amongst whom were several Queenslanders, met him at the station and broke the news of his wife’s serious condition.  Mrs Nobbs, wife of Captain Aubrey Nobbs, proved a constant and devoted friend in the early days of Mrs Costello’s illness, and after she was placed in the Government Infectious Hospital, two brave Australian Sisters volunteered to nurse their friend.  Major Costello was also permitted to share their self-sacrificing and heroic labor of love.  The Egyptian specialist entertained no hope of her recovery – but the brave sufferer faced her own illness with the same cheery optimism and dauntless courage as she had shown in the early days of her married life, when duty to his country called her soldier husband from her side to face all the dangers and horrors of war.  She would soon be better, and together they would shortly come home!  All that love could suggest, or devotion could offer, was done during those twelve or thirteen days, but it was fated that she should not recover.  Early on Sunday morning, 16th March, she passed away, and that afternoon a small band of devoted friends and her stricken husband laid Avon Costello to rest in the small British cemetery in Cairo, where so many of Australia’s brave soldiers sleep.  She had received all the spiritual comfort and help that a faithful minister of her church had been able to give her during her illness.

In retrospect, it seems but yesterday since she came amongst us – one of the many war brides who willingly gave of their best when the Empire called.  In April, 1915, Captain Edward Costello, and Avon, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Jas. Allan, of “Strathyre,” Karara, where united in wedlock in Brisbane.  In May, Captain Costello brought his bride to his old home at “Seagoe,” Thane’s Creek, a place he knew would be enlivened, and his aged parents brightened and cheered in his absence by her presence.  And, indeed, her companionship and bright spirit gladdened for three years Mr and Mrs Costello, after their home had been robbed by war of the presence of their last remaining boy.  Captain Costello left Brisbane for service abroad in June, 1915.

For three years Mrs Costello lived amongst us – always busy, always bright.  She interested herself specially in work for our soldiers abroad, and was secretary for, and an energetic worker of, the Thane’s Creek A.C.F. from its inception until she left for Egypt in July, 1918.  It would be difficult to find anyone who loved life, who was so unfailingly cheerful and optimistic and who could succeed in extracting the sweets of living from ordinary everyday life better than she.  These qualities enabled her to live happily under circumstances in which a less happy disposition would have repined.  Major Costello wrote over early in 1918 suggesting that his wife might be able to secure a passage to Egypt, and she immediately set to work to procure her passport and make arrangements for the trip.  In July she sailed from Brisbane, reaching Egypt in August, and it is gratifying to her loved ones to know that she and her husband spent several holidays together, visiting all place of interest about Cairo, and in Egypt, and also in Palestine.  Mrs Costello offered her services to the Red Cross Society as soon as she had settled in Heliopolis, and labored amongst the soldiers in one of the Cairenie Hospitals – assisting in the distribution of comforts and books to the patients, in taking parties of them for outings, and just prior to her last illness she worked in the Red Cross Kitchen, helping to prepare delicacies for invalid men – thus relieving an overtaxed Sister and permitting her to have a well-earned holiday.  Her capacity as a voluntary Red Cross worker entitled her to the privileges of the military in visiting the Holy Land, and she secured permission to accompany her husband on a tour through part of it.  They spent their Christmas amongst the places sacred to all Christian people and nations as being the scenes of our Lord’s birth, labor, life and death.  How soon was she to be called hence to realise in the entire spiritual significance the words of the Psalmist, “Our feet shall stand within they gate, O Jerusalem!”

Her latest letters reveal the great hope and longing that was theirs to get back home again, and it seemed as if every day must free Major Costello, D.S.O., from military service to return to Australia.  The news of her death produced a profound sensation amongst a wide circle of relatives and friends.  Deepest sympathy was felt on all sides for those who thought their dear one was even then on her way back to Australia.  An In Memoriam Service, conducted by Rev. W.P. Shinton, in the Presbyterian Church at Thane’s Creek, was largely attended.  The church was suitably draped with the Empire’s flags, and decorated with white flowers and greenery.  During the service, Mrs A. Brown rendered effectively Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar,” and at the close played “The Dead March in Saul.”

We can only think with deep sorrow of the husband so tragically left alone in Egypt; of the parents of both and relatives bereaved, and of the wide circle of friends who mourn the loss of one who was the embodiment of a life that pulsated with youth, energy and the joy of living.  The war has produced many tragedies.  This, surely, is one of them!

 

 

The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW), Wed 28 May 1919 (p.3):

With the Egyptians – Experiences of Miss Waugh

Miss da Silva Waugh writes to her detachment at Parramatta as follows:

……………………………………………..

I went on duty the next day, and the Red Cross made arrangements for me to have one day a week off during the hot weather.  The wife of a major in the 11th Regt. was to do it for me, but last Monday she was taken from the house we were living in with black smallpox, and died on Saturday.  She was taken to a Gyppie infectious hospital where there are no nurses.  They would not send any girl from No. 14 A.G.H., but called for volunteers, and two Queenslanders went.  There are still some heroines left in this sordid old world.  There were several other girls who volunteered as well.  She was buried in the military cemetery at Old Cairo; I think the first Australian Red Cross worker to die in Egypt.  She had been married four years, but had only been with her husband three months at that time.  ……………………………………..

[Miss da Silva Waugh – VAD Cook, ARC – 14th AGH]

 

Red Cross Record, Vol 5, No.7, 1 Jul 1919 (p.25):

Commissioner’s Monthly Report For March – Egypt, Palestine and Syria

We regret exceedingly to have to place on record the death of Mrs Costello, the wife of Major Costello.  Unfortunately, she contracted small-pox in a very virulent form, and after an illness of twelve days, she passed away.  Major Costello was with her during the last three days of her illness.  Mrs Costello was a cheerful, willing and able worker and took charge of all departments of our hospital work while their responsible Heads were indisposed or were on leave.  She has been, and will be, very sadly missed both by the patients who met her and our staff.

 

 

Letter to Edward Costello from Base Records 27/10/1923 (p.31 of his Service Record):

Dear Sir, I am informed by the overseas authorities that in view of the small number of civilian graves in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery the Imperial War Graves Commission has decided to erect permanent headstones thereon in order that uniformity of appearance may be secured when the cemetery is completed, and I am directed to forward to you the enclosed form for completion and return at your earliest convenience in connexion with the grave of your wife.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim Strawbridge
8 hours ago, Bardess said:

 

Frev. Yes, she is one of mine. You have a lot more about her than I have. A member on this group discovered her headstone in the cemetery whilst he was photographong graves of South Africans.  So I have a photograph of her headstone. Here is what I have :-

A member of the South Africa War Graves Project, spotted this headstone in CairoWarMemorialCemetery. It is of the CWGC type but without badge and is recorded by them as a Services Dependent. It bears the personal inscription “Died serving her country with the Australian Red Cross”. She was the wife of Major Costello, 11th Australian Light Horse. There is a handwritten memoir by Major E. Costello, D.S.O. (mentioned in despatches) of the 2nd Light Horse in the Australian War Memorial and outlining the last ten days of fighting by Australian units at Gallipoli and the evacuation process (ref. PR01069). 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
frev
19 hours ago, Jim Strawbridge said:

 

Frev. Yes, she is one of mine. You have a lot more about her than I have. A member on this group discovered her headstone in the cemetery whilst he was photographong graves of South Africans.  So I have a photograph of her headstone. Here is what I have :-

A member of the South Africa War Graves Project, spotted this headstone in CairoWarMemorialCemetery. It is of the CWGC type but without badge and is recorded by them as a Services Dependent. It bears the personal inscription “Died serving her country with the Australian Red Cross”. She was the wife of Major Costello, 11th Australian Light Horse. There is a handwritten memoir by Major E. Costello, D.S.O. (mentioned in despatches) of the 2nd Light Horse in the Australian War Memorial and outlining the last ten days of fighting by Australian units at Gallipoli and the evacuation process (ref. PR01069). 

 

 

 

Glad to hear you have her listed Jim - can you please let me know what date the headstone actually records - 16th or 18th?

 

Happy Easter, cheers, Frev

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim Strawbridge
31 minutes ago, frev said:

 

Glad to hear you have her listed Jim - can you please let me know what date the headstone actually records - 16th or 18th?

 

Happy Easter, cheers, Frev

 

Definitely, 16th March 1919.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
frev

Many thanks Jim :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...