Australian Nurses at War
A tribute to the women who have dealt face-to-face with war.
The involvement of Australian women as nurses in war began in 1899 with the formation of the New South Wales Army Nursing Service Reserve. Around sixty nurses served in the Boer War from the Australian colonies. Since the time of the Boer War, Australian nurses have served, caring for the sick and wounded in every conflict to which Australia has committed troops.
This exhibition is a tribute to those women who have dealt face-to-face with war—the sick, the wounded, and the dead. Those who served close to the battlefield experienced firsthand, not only the discomforts of makeshift field hospitals, including mud, dust, bad food, and lack of amenities, but also the risks and horrors of war. Many army nurses sacrificed their health and well-being in the service of Australia. Some sacrificed their lives.
This tribute, Australian Nurses at War, has been developed by the passion of one woman, Enid Home. A nurse herself, Enid was married to Major Arthur Home of the 13th Australian General Hospital. Many of the nurses under his command, ‘his girls’ as he referred to them, were aboard the ill-fated ship Vyner Brooke that left Singapore as the Japanese entered. Only 24 of the 65 nurses survived the war. Some were killed when the ship was sunk. Many survivors were massacred by the Japanese and others died in captivity.
This exhibition is on display at the Museum of the Great Southern from 20 October 2021 to 30 January 2022. Entry is free.
Image: Source Unknown. Of these nurses, only Eleanor Savage survived the sinking of the Centaur on the 14th of May 1943.