|Matron Ida Greaves, RRC, (centre) on the eve of her departure for France, 27 August 1914. From Greaves Family archive and Inside History website.|
She has created a website - Hunter Valley Great War Nurses. Click there to find out some of the names and the story of these nurses.
She has also written a book - Sisters of the Valley: First World War Nurses from Newcastle and the Hunter Region. This is probably the only published regional study of Australian nurses in the First World War.
To read an interview with Christine about her book and research published in the Australia and NZ Inside History magazine, click here.
She estimates that approximately 3000 Australian women served as military nurses in the First World War.
Love on Lemnos
She also recounts finding a love story from Lemnos. The diary of Sister Kathleen Doyle, from Singleton, includes numerous references to a love interest she met on Lemnos. He is only referred to as “C.S.” Chritstine has been unable to identifyb this myserious love interest. She thinks that C.S. meant “other ranks” (supposed to be off-limits for serving nurses) or he was British or Canadian. the diary of Kathleen Doyle . She was on night duty nursing casualties from Gallipoli. Yet Christine recounts that her diary also recorded the horrors of war, noting that one of her patients from Gallipoli, who was delirious “called me Ruby all night long. It is really heartbreaking to see and hear all the awful sights.” He died the following night and Kathleen had the task of writing to his mother."
Christine's research also recounts the stories of other nurses of the Hunter, including the following:
- Based on access to the families personal archive, she tells the story of Matron Ida Greaves. A graduate of Newcastle Hospital, who was one of the first Australian women to serve in a field hospital during the War. She and Sydney nurse Matron Nora Fletcher were the first Australian women to be awarded the Royal Red Cross during the War. Few people from Ida Greaves’ home town are aware of this. Christine is currently writing a biography of Ida.
- Sister Lydia Abell had graduated from Newcastle Hospital in 1898 and she had been a founding member of the Australasian Trained Nursing Association. In 1914 she was too old at 42 to be accepted by the Australian Army Nursing Service and probably too well known in Australian nursing circles to lie about her age! She arrived in Europe in November 1915 and nursed at hospitals and on ambulance barges in France until the end of the war
- Sister Louisa Stobo from Maitland was a senior nurse, the Matron of Crown Street Women’s Hospital Sydney, who left for Egypt in one of the first contingents of nurses in 1914. She was at a hospital there when her brother Robert Scobie was wounded and evacuated from Gallipoli. She saw him recover from his wounds only to return to Gallipoli to be killed at the Battle of Lone Pine. Yet Louisa stoically continued her nursing work.
Thanks to Faye Threfall for finding this story.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee