|Wedding photograph of Nurse Daley and Sergeant Lawrence, with Matron Wilson standing behind Sergeant Lawrence. West Mudros, Lemnos, 21st October 1915. AWM image P01360.002|
Prior to the landings on 25th April, the Allied armies assembled here, the Anzacs sailing from Alexandria to Lemnos’ great harbour of Mudros Bay. Over 200 Allied ships filled the harbour before the landing, including Australia’s famous submarine, the AE2. The Island would be filled with stores for the campaign, rest camps would be erected to accommodate the soldiers as they returned from the peninsula in September and October. And it was to Lemnos that the Anzacs were evacuated in December at the end of the campaign.
One of the main purposes of the base at Lemnos was as the location of field hospitals. Along with British and Canadian hospitals, two Australian field hospitals were erected here – the 2nd Australian Stationary and 3rd Australian General Hospitals. The hospitals on Lemnos would care for over 100,000 Allied casualties.
One of the 130 Australian nurses who served on Lemnos during the Gallipoli campaign was a young nurse from Box Hill – Clarice Jessie Daley.
Nurse Clarice Daley was 25 years old when she joined the Australian Army Nursing Service on 10th May 1915. She had been born in Box Hill and recorded her religion as Presbyterian. She completed her 3 years of nursing training at Melbourne Hospital. By the time of her enlistment, she and her parents had moved to “Turriff”, Beach Avenue, Elwood.
Clarice and the other 80 nurses of the 3rd Australian General Hospital sailed from Port Melbourne aboard the Mooltan on 18th May 1915. Initially sent to England, the coming Gallipoli campaign saw Clarice and the rest of the nurses diverted for service on Lemnos.
|Nurse Dalet and the 3rd AGH depart Port Melbourne aboard the RMS Mooltan, 18th May 1915. AWM image C01009|
Clarice’s time on Lemnos was a challenging one. The next day after she arrived hundreds of wounded soldiers began arriving from the ill-fated August Offensive on the peninsula. This was despite the fact that much of the nurses essential medical equipment had failed to arrive with them. As Matron Grace Wilson wrote in her diary at the time, “it was too awful for words”.
The Australian nurses would see the number of patients rise further over coming weeks. Despite the numbers, Clarice and her fellow nurses not only coped with the dreadful conditions but managed to achieve amazing recovery rates.
Beyond August, Clarice would see a change in the nature of the casualties arriving from Gallipoli. More and more the soldiers arrived seriously ill as a result of the poor sanitation on the peninsula, suffering from dysentery and enteric fever. To this would be added, pneumonia as the winter months arrived at Gallipoli.
The nurses recorded a 98% survival rate and were commended by Australia’s senior medical commander; Lieutenant General Featherstone wrote: “I believe that the Hospital would have collapsed without the nurses. They all worked like demons and were led and guided by Miss Wilson.” Clarice could be proud of her service.
Despite the exactions of service at the Hospital, it was during her time on Lemnos that Clarice became reacquainted with a former beau from Melbourne, one Ernest Lawrence.
Ernest was a commercial traveller and living in Elsternwick when he enlisted at the outbreak of the war, in August 1914. When they met again he was now a Sergeant in the 1st Light Horse Brigade Headquarters.
While we are not sure when Clarice re-met Ernest, his service records reveals that he was admitted to the nearby 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital on Lemnos in 12th July 1915.
Despite the apparent disapproval of Clarice’s family, their feelings for each other blossomed in the shadow of war and they decided to marry, there and then, on Lemnos.
|Nurse Daley and Sergeant Lawrence, with their Anzac guard of honour at their wedding on Lemnos, 21st October 1915. AWM image P01360.001|
|Marriage certificate of Nurse Daley and Sergeant Lawrence, Lemnos, 21st October 1915. AWM image PR90 133|
Clarice and her fellow nurses arrived in Alexandria in 27th January 1916 aboard the Oxfordshire. She arrived at the Australian camp at Abbassia in Egypt but it was here that Clarice bade her farewells from her fellow nurses for she embarked for her return to Australia on 9th February 1916 aboard the HT Nestor. She arrived back at Princes Pier in Port Melbourne on 13th March 1916 and was discharged from the Army on 31st July 1916.
Ernest returned to Australia in November 1918 and the two commenced their life together, going on to have four children. They returned to Australia to live at 52 Docker Street Elwood and are buried in St Kilda Cemetery. Ernest died in 1933 and Clarice in 1944. After the war, Clarice was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.
Their grand-daughter Judith was still alive and living in Port Philip in 2010.
Ernest and Clarice's Grave - Acknowledgement and Place of Remembrance
Below are images of the grave of Ernest and Clarice at St Kilda Cemetery. Sadly, there is no acknowledgement of their joint service in WW1 and their unique Lemnos story. It would be fitting if this was acknowledged with the Anzac "Rising Sun" badge and in the guide to the Cemetery produced by the Cemetery Trust. The Committee is endeavoring to contact any surviving family members to ascertain their wishes.
This could also be an annual place of remembrance - on Anzac Day or on 8th August, the day Clarice arrived on Lemnos - for Ernest and Clarice, and all the 130 nurses who served on Lemnos and the 148 diggers who remain buried there. Watch this space.
|Grave stone of Clarice and Ernest, St Kilda Cemetery. Photograph Jim Claven 2014|
Clarice Daley and the nurses of Lemnos will finally have a memorial to commemorate their service. On 8th August 2015, a new memorial statue designed by Peter Corlett OAM will be unveiled in Albert Park dedicated to Anzac nurses and soldiers who served and who are buried on Lemnos in 1915. The Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative committee is currently raising funds to make this a reality.
Lest We Forget
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee
An edited version of this story will be published by the Box Hill RSL in the November edition of their magazine, Scuttlebut. Thanks to George Petrou. To view and download the article, click here.