|Sister Gertrude Davis, AWM image H15352 (Donor Miss GE Davis)|
The story of Gertrude Davis reveals how the lives of Australian nurses was effected and transformed by the war. From her training as a nurse at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, this Warrnambool nurse would see the horrors of war on Lemnos with the 3rd Australian General Hospital, then rise to be Principal Matron of all Australian nurses in India, Burma and Persia, where some 560 Australian nurses served. This is her story.
Gertrude Emily Davis was 31 years old when she enlisted with the Australian Army Nursing Service on 19th May 1915. Born in Warrnambool, Victoria, she had received her 3 years nursing training at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital. Her experience included being a staff nurse and sister in charge of medical and surgical wards, as well as serving a period as Matron of a 20-bed private hospital.
While she had been born in Victoria's western district, at the time of her enlistment her next of kin, her father Mr Harry Davis, resided at “Cleveland”, in Orrong Road, Elsternwick, in Melbourne’s inner southern suburbs.
Like all the nurses on Lemnos, Gertrude had to deal with the extremes of weather in the northern Aegean – from summer heat to winter storms – as well as the massive number of casualties from the August offensives at Gallipoli and the steady flow of sick soldiers due to the poor sanitation of the peninsula. She departed Lemnos with her fellow nurses in January 1916.
She disembarked from Mudros aboard the Oxfordshire with the rest of the 3rd Australian General Hospital at Alexandria in Egypt on 27th January 1915. She served with the hospital at Abbassia in Egypt until 18th March 1916, when she departed for Suez. She then departed from Suez for Australia on 19th March 1916 aboard the Demosthenes.
|Mess room and sisters quarters of the No 34 Welsh General Hospital, Deolali, India, 1917. AWM image P00562.175|
Her service in India saw Gertrude oversee nursing services to German and Turkish prisoners of war as well as British and Indian soldiers. Turkish prisoners of war were accommodated at the Victoria Hospital with its 700 beds. She is also reported to have helped combat cholera and smallpox in Southern Persia.
|Royal Red Cross|
Gertrude died in 1964 in Victoria.
Lest we forget.