The Other ANZACs: The Extraordinary Story of Our World War I Nurses

The Other ANZACs: The Extraordinary Story of Our World War I Nurses

The Other ANZACs: The Extraordinary Story of Our World War I Nurses

The Other ANZACs: The Extraordinary Story of Our World War I Nurses

Synopsis

The harrowing, dramatic and profoundly moving story of the Australian and New Zealand nurses who served in the Great War. By the end of the Great War, forty-five Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service and over two hundred had been decorated. These were the women who left for war looking for adventure and romance but were soon confronted with challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them. Their strength and dignity were remarkable. Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to enrich their experiences, and ours. Profoundly moving, The Other Anzacs is a story of extraordinary courage and humanity shown by a group of women whose contribution to the Anzac legend has barely been recognised in our history. Peter Rees has changed that understanding forever.

Excerpt

As nurses in Australia and New Zealand saw it, the issue in 1914 was quite simple. They wanted to be there, with their boys, when they went to war. And the Anzac boys wanted the women there, too, with them on the other side of the world. It was not only their nursing expertise, they were a link to home. As one Australian sister at a hospital in France noted, they always knew when wounded Anzacs arrived: ‘If they are not too ill they generally call out “Hullo Australia” or some such remark, they know our uniform from the English sisters. How we do love our dear brave boys.’

Another sister captured it this way in a letter home from a hospital on Malta: ‘You don’t know [how] these boys of ours love to come across an Australian woman, and then when they saw us they were nearly too shy to come and speak to me … poor dears, I would do any mortal thing for them.’ Like so many of her boys from the bush, Narelle Hobbes, the former matron of Brewarrina Hospital in far western New South Wales, died on active duty before the war ended.

The Great War was the first test of the fledgling Army nursing services of Australia and New Zealand. More than forty Australian civilian nurses had served officially in the 1899–1902 Boer War in South Africa, together with . . .

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