Nurse's cape : Sister E L Steadman, Australian Army Nursing Service

Accession Number REL/15069
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Cotton, Linen, Oxidised brass, Superfine wool
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1914-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Australian Army Nursing Service nurse's scarlet superfine wool cape. The body of the cape is made out of one panel of fabric with a wide (approximately 75mm) mitred hem double-stitched to the outside. The cape is fastened at the collar with a small brass hook and eye. Two oxidised brass Sister's rank stars and curved 'AUSTRALIA' shoulder titles are fitted to the shoulder straps and fastened with brass split pins. The rear of the cape has a small vent with a tab behind. A fine plain weave white cotton collar has been lightly tacked around the cape collar on a linen tape. The collar has machine-embroidery in the same colour and a drawn threadwork hem.

History / Summary

Worn by Sister Elsie Louise Steadman. Steadman was born on 9 August 1881 in Nottingham, England. After working as a nurse at Wakefield Private Hospital in Adelaide for four years, she enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) as a staff nurse on 8 July 1916.

Embarking for overseas service on 29 December aboard A32 Themistocles Steadman was initially posted to 12 General Hospital near Rouen, France on 12 March 1917, predominately nursing shell-shocked patients. Her second posting was looking after German Prisoners of War in a barbed-wire enclosed hospital area.

In May Steadman spent a few months at a convalescent home in Etretat, France suffering from 'mild debility', however in November, she was sent to 20 Casualty Clearing Station at Cambrai before moving to 25 General Hospital l near Boulogne, which specialised in skin disorders. All the hospitals were under canvas, and she described in a letter held in the Memorial's collection that the duties of a nurse included changing dressings, managing the wards with the help of orderlies and supervising the diets of the patients.

Promoted to sister on 29 December 1918, Steadman continued to nurse after the war. Working for a few months at 2 Auxiliary Hospital in Southall, England, Steadman returned to Australia on 20 May 1919 and was discharged on 21 August.