Launch of The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database
The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database was launched at the Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park with a number of presentations and the presence of many of the researchers and developers of the database, to highlight not only aspects and the lives and service of the Nurses, but to also demonstrate the power and flexibility of the Database as a tool for enquiry and research.
The Australian Branch of the Western Front Association in conjunction with FFFAIF presented a Seminar, incorporating the 2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture on Saturday, 30 April, 2022, focussing on Australian nurses of the Great War. In conjunction with this event, Anzac Nurses of the Great War has been added as a new menu on the www.fffaif.org.au website to provide links to many of the most significant websites related to Australian and New Zealand Nurses who served in the Great War.
John Laffin’s mother, Nellie Alfreda Laffin (nee Pike), served as a nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service in the Great War and her story was be told by her granddaughter Sue Tongue and grandson Craig Laffin using archival material and family items. This was presented as the 2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture as: “Our Nurse Nellie in the war.”, which was also streamed live on-line via Zoom. This case study helped showcase the role of nurses from Australia in the war, from the viewpoint of the life of one brave woman who served.
Studio portrait of Matron Gray and four sisters of the AANS at No1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield on 9 April 1915. Source: Australian War Memorial
Other researchers shared their findings. A special afternoon tea was hosted for those attending with raffle prizes drawn during the day to raise. Craig Laffin donated a number of books written by John Laffin for the benefit of those attending..
Matron Gray with Sisters at No 1 Australian General Hospital, Sutton Veny 1919
Source: Australian War Memorial
Title: ‘Australian military nurses in the Great War.”
9:30 am: Arrival and registration.
10:00 am: Welcome.
10:15 am: The Australian Nurses of the Great War database by David Perkins.
11:15 am: Tribute to John Laffin, by FFFAIF President Jim Munro, followed by the
2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture by Sue Tongue and Craig Laffin:
“Our Nurse Nellie in the war.”
12:30 pm: Lunch and time to explore the Memorial.
1:45 pm: Research presentations by invited attendees.
Krista Van-Tempest: Nurse Edith Blake QAIMNSR
Dr Nicole Bray and Janette Pelosi: 1AAH Harefield and More medals than most
Sarah and Ruth Miller: Nurse Caroline Ellen Wilson
James Oglethorpe: Sister May Oglethorpe AANS
Chris Bryett: Matron Kellett CBE, RRC, MID
3:00 pm: Discussion with afternoon tea (self-catered from kitchen).
Clare Ashton: 1934 nurses reunion
4:00 pm: Close of business.
The new Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page
The 1st Australian General Hospital (1AGH) Sutton Veny, May 1919
Approximately 300 nurses and military personnel. Seated in the middle of the front row is Matron Ethel Gray, Australian Army Nursing Service, and to her left is Commanding Officer 1AGH Colonel Huxtable (with walking stick and legs crossed).
More than 2,300 Australian military nurses served overseas during the Great War.
This Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page brings together information from multiple data sources and from multiple researchers to provide a searchable resource that honours both individual stories and enables users to make their own enquiries and compile their own analysis across collective groups.
Sutton Veny Matron, Sister Miles-Walker (d. Oct 1918) and AANS Sisters at AGH1 October 1919
Anzac Nurses Nominal Rolls of the Great War.
A number of nominal rolls listing the service of Anzac nurses from Australia and New Zealand in the Great War have been published and been made available on-line for research. These have been prepared by academic and family history researchers to document the military and other nurses who served in the First World War. Each roll contains different information but together they provide detailed information on this diverse range of women.
Links to some of these are posted here and each researcher has consented to their publication. All are in the public domain and are grouped here to assist other researchers.
This Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page has been placed in the public domain as a free resource to enable families, students and researchers to be able to access this information and thereby honour the training, dedication and service of these special women.
To honour their service and sacrifice of Australian Nurses of the Great War, David Perkins has developed a new ‘searchable’ database that provides access to the service and biographical details of about 2,500 Australian military nurses who served in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) and other Empire military nursing organisations.
The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database is available online on this page of the Families and Friends of the First AIF webpage. Each of David’s records contains links to relevant Australian War Memorial, National Archives of Australia, and Department of Veterans Affairs ‘Discovering Anzacs’ group stories. David is prepared to add new names to his database and will consider requests from other researchers to do so.
Click here to access The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database
Additional Anzac Nurses Nominal Rolls and Women’s service in the Great War.
Other nominal rolls are accessible here. They include not only Australian and New Zealand nurses who served with their respective military nursing services but women who served with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service Reserve and as Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachments or VADs.
The ‘Discovering Anzacs’ series of group stories contain several lists of nurses. These have been prepared by Heather Ford who has undertaken exhaustive research in the area. She has grouped the names into cohorts and submitted them to the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs as a number of ‘group stories’. Some are here:
AUSTRALIAN WOMEN WHO SERVED AND DIED DURING OR AS A RESULT OF THE GREAT WAR: | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ ()
WOMEN’S ARMY AUXILIARY CORPS – QUEEN MARY’S ARMY AUXILIARY CORPS | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ (
Dr Kirsty Harris has produced the following nominal roll and is one of Australia’s leading authors and researchers relating to Australian Nurses at War:
In New Zealand, Sherayl McNabb has documented the names of Nurses in the New Zealand Army Nursing Service and other New Zealanders who served in the Great War (she has also created nominal rolls for nurses who served in other conflicts in which New Zealand nurses served):
Jenny Baker has recorded a wide range of other Australian women’s service in the Great War (with many interesting photographs):
Faithe Jones (a genealogist) has compiled profiles and photographs of many Australian Nurses in World War 1:
Australian nurses at Harefield Australian Auxiliary Hospital 1915
Mention should also be made of The History of the Australian Nurses in the First World War by Dr Ruth Rae, published as an Australian College of Nursing Centenary Commemorative Trilogy. The Trilogy details the important contribution of Australian nurses who served in the First World War (1914-18) and highlights the valuable service Australian nurses provided, to not only the servicemen, but to the ongoing professionalism of civilian and military nursing in this country. The Trilogy features:
Book one – From Narromine to the Nile (2nd edition)
Book two – Scarlet Poppies (3rd edition)
Book three – Veiled Lives (3rd edition) ACN First World War Nursing Nominal Roll. Some details relating to the nominal role can be found here:
Sneak peek: A Nominal Roll of Australian Nurses who served in the First World War (pp. 10-17) – Australian College of Nursing (https://www.acn.edu.au/sneak-peek-nominal-roll)
ACN Centenary Commemorative Trilogy – Australian College of Nursing
The Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page has been facilitated by
Paul Simadas, RFD Lieutenant Colonel
Chairman Australian Branch Western Front Association
Vice President, Families and Friends of the First AIF
One of Paul’s FFFAIF responsibilities is liaison with kindred organisations with an interest in commemorating the service and sacrifice of Australian service men and women and their families during and after The Great War. Paul has liaised with most of the researchers listed above, and each researcher has consented to the publication of links to their work.
Anzac Memorial Sydney Screening: Angels of the Battlefield
Angels of the Battlefield, made by students from TAFE New South Wales over a six-year period, pays homage to the over 3,000 civilian nurses who also served in the First World War. Often working near the front-line, 25 nurses were killed and 388 were decorated, with eight receiving the Military Medal.
Through the stories of Sisters Nellie Morrice and Katherine Porter, discover what life was like a century ago and the hardships and dangers nurses endured on active service. The film follows Nellie and Kitty from the small country towns of their birth through their nursing training in Sydney, their service in Egypt, Turkey and France to the tragedies and triumphs that followed their discharge from the military.
Angels of the Battlefield will be screened on the following dates and does not require a booking:
- Tuesday, 26 April (3.30-4.30pm)
- Friday, 29 April (3.30-4.30pm)
- Monday, 2 May (3.30-4.30pm)
- Wednesday, 4 May (3.30-4.30pm)