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The Rock-itt : April 2014
The first bravery awards for Australian women were given to four nurses. Sisters Clare Deacon, Dorothy Cawood and Alice Ross-King and Staff Nurse Mary Derrer each received the Military Medal for risking their lives to rescue patients trapped in burning buildings after a German raid on the Western Front in France in 1917. One nurse, Sister Narrelle Hobbs, was with Australian forces at Gallipoli. She wrote:...I've been a soldier now for nearly three years, and please God I will go right to the end ... if anything happened, and I too passed out, well, there would be no finer way, and no way in which I would be happier, than to lay down one's life for the men who have given everything.... Sister Hobbs died five months later, in May 1918. MEDICAL CORP TRIBUTE 1914-18 BY SIMON LYON In the First World War, nurses were recruited from both the nursing service and the civilian profession and served as an integral part of the AIF. They served in Egypt and Lemnos during the Gallipoli campaign. They served in England, on the Western Front in France and Belgium support of the fighting, and in Greece Salonika, Palestine, Mesopotamia and India. At least 2139 nurses served abroad between 1914 and 1919, and a further 423 worked in military hospitals in Australia, while 29 died on active service. EXCERPT FROM AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL During the invasion of Belgium in 1914, Sister Claire Trestrail was one of three Australian nurses who joined the privately funded Auxiliary Hospital Unit in Antwerp. On the night of 8 October, under heavy artillery bombardment, Trestrail and her colleagues worked tirelessly to move their 130 French and Belgian patients to safety in the cellars of the Burchem Concert Hall – "three dirty little caves under the kitchen".The next morning, with the city deserted and burning, the nurses frantically loaded their patients onto any available transport, with little thought for their own evacuation. Later in the day, they flagged down three British buses laden with ammunition, and escaped from Belgium after a hair- raising trip to the coast. In Britain, news of the nurses' amazing escape quickly spread. Soon afterwards, Trestrail joined the QAIMNS and returned to the front.
March Rock-itt 2014