Australian Army Nursing Service Doll : Sister N C Morrice, 2 Australian General Hospital

Place Africa: Egypt, North Egypt, Mena
Accession Number REL39961
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Cotton, Glass, Leather, Porcelain, Wood
Maker Morrice, Nellie Constance
Place made Egypt, France, United Kingdom: England
Date made 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Commercially produced hard-bodied doll dressed as a First World War Australian Army Nurse. The doll's face is a hollow bisque china design decorated with hand-painted light grey eyelashes, light brown eyebrows, gloss red lips and a mild red blush on the cheeks (this latter decoration appears to have been sprayed). The eyesockets are fitted with blue painted glass eyes. A light brown mohair wig formed into ringlets is glued to the top of the head and is tied into a pony tail with white cotton tape. The head includes the neck and a shoulder plate.
The body is formed from a molded composition compound (probably sawdust and casein), equipped with moveable arms and legs. The upper and lower limbs have been molded with hollow centres to accept a cord which attaches them to the body. The arms have joints at the shoulders, elbows and wrists, while the legs are jointed at the hips and knees - the feet are incorporated into the lower legs. Each joint section employs a ball on the lower limb engaging with a 3/4 socket in the upper limb. The body is thickly coated in a skin-coloured paint.
The doll is dressed in hand-made cotton clothes; white knee length bloomers with a scalloped edged lace border; white petticoat with a 2 cm wide lace border decorated with a row of roses and dot patterns; a light blue long-sleeved dress; white apron; red cape; white veil; black knee length stockings and black leather shoes with light brown leather soles. The shoes are secured at the front with a black cotton loop which engages a tiny ball-headed button, and each shoe is decorated above the toe with a stamped tin rosette backed by a six-petalled black leather rosette. The apron is secured at the back of the waist with a makeshift cotton belt fastened at the front with a small nickle-plated metal Australian Commonwealth button. A circular red, white and blue paper label attached to the centre back of the doll is printed 'FABRICATION FRANCAISE PARIS'. Impressed into the reverse of the doll's shoulders is 'CLASSIC ENGLAND'.

History / Summary

This doll was commercially produced by an unknown manufacturer, but apparently employing parts of both English and French manufacture. This was a common practice in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Sister Nellie Constance Morrice made an Australian Army Nursing Service outfit for the doll as a gift for her four year old niece Peggy in 1915.

Morrice was born in Sutton Forrest, NSW, on 31 March 1881 and began nursing training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in November 1903. Qualifying as a staff nurse in 1906, she joined the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) in May 1910 and enlisted in the AIF on 21 November 1914.

Embarking for overseas service on 28 November aboard HMAT Kyarra, Morrice was attached to 2 Australian General Hospital (AGH) with the rank of sister. Disembarking in Egypt, 2 AGH arrived at the Mena House Hotel, Cairo on 25 January 1915. Mena had been taken over the previous December by the Deputy Director of Medical Services to accommodate the sick of the First Australian Division. A photograph of 'Sister Helen' standing on the steps of Mena House is held in the Memorial's Collection at P08389.001.

No 2 AGH also operated the Gezira Palace Hotel Hospital, Cairo. Morrice nursed at Gezira from June to September 1915. On 19 September she was posted to 2 Australian Stationary Hospital (ASH) on the island of Lemnos to nurse Australian and Allied wounded from Gallipoli. Returning to Egypt before the evacuation of the Peninsula, she was transferred to 1 ASH, Ismailia. Morrice was promoted to head sister on 1 March.

Detached for duty to the Australian Auxiliary Hospitals (AAH) in England, Morrice travelled on duty aboard the Hospital Ship Letitia, arriving in the United Kingdom in October. She was taken on strength by the recently opened 3 AAH, Dartford on 13 October; however she was soon posted to 3 AGH, Brighton.

In April 1917 Morrice proceeded overseas to France where 3 AGH had relocated to Abbeville. There, 3 AGH operated from tents and huts and in May began to admit gassed patients, briefly treating them before they were sent on to other facilities.

In October Morrice transferred to the 2400-bed, 25 British General Hospital, Hardelot. Staffed by Australian nurses under Matron Adelaide Maud Kellett, the hospital principally treated skin cases. During the concerted Allied offensives of August and September 1918, the hospital also functioned as a Casualty Clearing Station with theatres in constant use day and night. On 3 June 1918 Morrice was awarded the Royal Red Cross, 2nd Class 'in recognition of her valuable services with the Armies in France and Flanders'.

Morrice returned to England on 11 December. She embarked for Australia on duty as matron aboard HMAT Demosthenes on 16 January 1919, disembarking in Melbourne on 2 March. Morrice was discharged in Sydney on 9 July.

After the war, Morrice was appointed matron of Georges Heights Military Hospital, Mosman. In June 1924 she was appointed secretary to the New South Wales (Lady Dudley's) Bush Nursing Association, a role for which she was awarded the Order of the British Empire - Member (Civil) in June 1934. Retiring in 1948 Morrice lived out the remainder of her life in Chatswood, NSW. She died on 11 April 1963.