Reading between unwritten lines: Australian Army nurses in India, 1916-19

Ruth Rae

{1} The three volumes of the official history of the Australian Army Medical Services during the First World War contain little about the activities and experiences of members of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS).1 This is despite efforts made after the armistice in 1918 to collect historical and anecdotal information about them. Prior to the nurses' return to Australia in 1919, Matron A. M. Kellett conducted 128 interviews,2 and a further 137 nurses' narratives that relate to this period were collected by the official historian. All this material is held by the Australian War Memorial.3

{2} While narratives and interviews undoubtedly constitute a valuable resource, this type of historical data contains some important limitations. Essentially, this concerns the fallibility of memory, and the tendency of individuals to cull unpleasant experiences when talking or writing for the official record. Equally, nurses may have been uncomfortable about committing to writing their understanding of important historical events which they, in fact, believed to be based on nothing more than gossip. Whatever the case, dependence upon an individual's raw recollection of events, without researching the historical context or cultural norms of the time, can result in a loss of data, perpetuation of incorrect information, and possibly a distortion of the evidence.

{3} The narrative of Alma Louisa Bennett, formerly acting matron of the 34th Welsh General Hospital (34 WGH) at Deolali, in India, illustrates the many reasons why nurses omit important evidence. The 6,000-word hand-written account contains a great deal of valuable data relating to the experiences of some 560 AANS members who served in India in 1916-19, representing 20 per cent of the approximately 2,270 Australian nurses who served overseas during the war.4 This contingent eventually had its own principal matron in the person of Miss G. E. Davis, who had already been on active service in Egypt and Lemnos.5

AWM H15352
Principal Matron Gertrude Davis
AWM H15352

{4} There have been a number of explanations put forward for why so many Australian nurses were needed in India. One Australian nurse had heard rumours that it was related to the climate and she was not keen to go, because "I believe it to be awful in India. English nurses could not stand the heat & cholera & several have died, that is why they have sent Australians thinking they could stand the climate better!"6 It is unclear if the Australian nurses were expected to better stand the cholera, but they did not. Sisters A. V. O'Grady and K. Power died of the disease soon after their arrival in July 1916.7

{5} The real reason was probably financial. During an investigation of "financial and other matters", an AIF paymaster, Captain F. H. Wickham, found that, "In India a great part of the cost of nursing is borne by the Australian Government, which leaves the Indian Government to pay their own Regulars and a very decreased number of temporary and Queen Alexandra Reserve nurses."8 This is a credible explanation, in view of the Indian government having 520 trained nurses in late 1918: 320 from the AANS, 120 Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), and only 80 from the Indian Nursing Service.9

{6} Irrespective of the rationale for sending AANS nurses to India, once they arrived they provided nursing care to those in need, irrespective of class, race or religion. After all, they had been trained in the tradition of Florence Nightingale, who refused to bow to pressure to admit only Protestants to a private hospital in England.10 The Australian nurses found to their personal detriment, however, that a failure to understand the cultural and religious paradigms of those being nursed could create serious problems.

{7} India was a location that was not considered to be a war zone, because the front line for the British campaign to defend it was actually in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq).11 Nevertheless, it was a challenging placement for AANS members. Alma Bennett recorded that when electricity was finally connected to the hospital where she was, the nurses were "all delighted but each Sister still kept her hurricane lamp burning beside her bed at night, as snakes were very prevalent, many deadly ones such as Russell's Viper, Krait & Cobra having been killed, some in the Sisters' rooms. One Sister of our service was bitten at the Deccan War Hospital, Poona, but fortunately recovered."12

Map of India

{8} After less than a year of service in India, Miss Bennett was informed that she had been placed in charge of 34 WGH as acting matron. This was a large hospital situated in open hill country some 260 kilometres north-east of Bombay, occupying a complex of buildings 1.2 kilometres wide and twice as long. With 3,000 beds, it was an extremely busy facility, which had been staffed by Imperial sisters until these received urgent orders to proceed to Mesopotamia.

{9} Replacing them, Miss Bennett initially had just 59 Australian sisters and fifteen Indian temporary nurses to handle a workload which in September numbered 2,188 patients. As she noted, her staff total of 74 included "myself, my assistant, H[ead] Sister & Home Sister, Mess Sister & massage Sister leaving 68 for duty, both day and night. No more staff was available and I was at a loss how to relieve the pressure of work, for everyone was going at high tension, if not with actual acute cases, dealing with numbers." Added to the worry of ensuring her nurses received adequate rest was the fact that the climate at Deolali was particularly enervating and the risk of cholera ever present.

AWM H12551
The 34th Welsh General Hospital at Deolali, India
AWM H12551

{10} The types of cases dealt with by the nurses were diverse. Bennett recounted that soon after taking up her position at 34 WGH "an outbreak of small pox occurred in one of the wards, followed in three weeks time by an outbreak of plague in another w[ar]d. Thus began a strenuous and anxious time - all the Sisters, medical officers and orderlies having to be vaccinated against small pox & inoculated against plague, also all the patient contacts." This was a difficult situation for a recently-appointed nurse leader who was a four-hour train journey away from the principal matron in Bombay, but Bennett and her nurses got on with the job.

{11} The vaccinations against small pox were in most cases unsuccessful, but fortunately all the attacks were of a mild nature. As Bennett recalled, "The patients were immediately taken to a marquee & isolated, the Sisters nursing them sharing the same fate. No deaths occurred. We were not so successful with the plague. Deaths occurred within 48 hours and we rec[eived] orders to evacuate the whole of the nursing division 1,600 patients. The convalescent division and Officers hospital of 40 beds remained as they were, being quite apart from the nursing division."

{12} Bennett was diligent about providing sufficient detail in her narrative, because the evacuation of a hospital due to an outbreak of plague is an atypical event in the career of an Australian nurse in 1917 and the practical aspects of managing such a situation warranted a comprehensive description. By Christmas, the outbreaks of smallpox and plague had been controlled and the hospital returned to relative quiet ? as Bennett put it, "large numbers [of patients were] in but nothing particularly worrying." This enabled the staff to give up the whole day to make it memorable for the patients, and she recorded that "I feel sure they enjoyed … and greatly appreciated all that had been done for them. We had our Christmas dinner 8.30 pm, 85 Sisters, including myself sitting down to our plentiful meal and I felt a glow of pride as I looked round on all those bright eager faces. They had proved so staunch & loyal in many busy, anxious days & nights."

AWM P00562.175
Mess room of the sisters' quarters at 34 WGH, 1917
AWM P00562.175

{13} With Christmas over and the New Year ushered in, 34 WGH became full of activity owing to a visit paid to Deolali on 2 January by the Viceroy of India, Lord Chelmsford, and his staff. The early stages of 1918 were, in fact, a turning point for many in the AANS. These staunch and loyal women would be forever affected by accusations of immoral behaviour made against five of their number by an English (male) medico who was in charge of the hospital.

{14} Bennett commented that the vice-regal visit had been "promised and arranged" when the former Officer Commanding, Colonel A. W. Sheen, was in charge, and "altho he had given up the command, he paid many visits to the hospital in his present capacity [as] consulting surgeon, still as keenly interested as ever in the hospital he so splendidly organised in 1916 and carried on successfully until Oct. 1917." Another officer, Colonel H. Seddon, had been appointed to succeed him but had apparently not arrived. Accordingly, as Bennett records, "Both Mrs Sheen and himself [Sheen] were present to welcome the Viceroy and party, also our present O.C. Colonel F. H. Maturin RAMC and Mrs Maturin."

{15} This clearly establishes that another Royal Army Medical Corps officer, Colonel Maturin, was in place when the plague and smallpox epidemic occurred, and that Colonel Seddon had not yet taken charge of the hospital. With the vice-regal visit out of the way, Bennett was able to give attention to allowing her nurses to take leave, and to consider taking a break herself. As she explained, "I allowed none of Sisters leave during these months but as soon as good weather set in I arranged their leave. … In March and April I took my leave, the first time I had taken any leave whilst at the 34th … The weather by this time was unbearably hot and I was really glad to leave the heat for 30 days, having waited over 12 months for leave, the Senior Sister carrying on my work in my absence."

{16} On her return, Bennett "found the hospital very quiet" and observed that there had been "many changes amongst the personnel", with some of the medical officers having gone to Mesopotamia "to relieve others who had been there 2 years without relief." It was during her absence that the new officer commanding, Colonel Seddon, had been gathering evidence that would be used against the nurses. The inquiry that resulted occurred shortly after her return, before she would have had an opportunity to form any type of professional relationship, helpful or unhelpful, with the new commanding officer. After this point the narrative no longer bears any resemblance to what actually occurred at this time, and the reason for this will become clear. The following information has been pieced together from archival material,

{17} On the evening of 7 May 1918, Bennett was sent for by the camp commandant, Colonel Seddon, who gave her a slip of paper bearing the names of five Australian nurses accused of being implicated in immoral conduct.13 Seddon's apparent plan of having a "quiet word" to the acting matron about the nurses backfired dramatically. Not only did she not believe him, she immediately sent a cable to the Australian principal matron in Bombay. Miss Davis made an overnight train journey to Deolali and, after she and Bennett interviewed the accused, the two nurse leaders demanded an inquiry to clear the women's reputations.14 A report from Davis to Miss E. Tracy Richardson, the AANS matron-in-chief at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, outlines the process and procedure followed.15

{18} Seddon claimed that he had collected evidence from a Turkish interpreter which clearly showed that the nurses named had been having sexual intercourse with soldiers; one nurse was accused of having sexual intercourse with a Turkish prisoner of war, a hospital orderly and also a lower caste Indian. Signor Martirossi, an interpreter for the hospital's Turkish prisoners, was the main witness against the nurses. Davis reported that the charge against one nurse was that "she was in familiar relations with the English patients in this Ward. Later on I was told by the same Turkish prisoners (by 2 of them) that one night they saw her in an empty tent in the arms of a 'Mehtar'. I could not believe this charge …"16

AWM H12574
Bungalow used as nursing sisters' quarters
AWM H12574

{19} To place the situation in a religious, social and cultural paradigm, a Christian female nurse had been accused by three Islamic enemy males of behaving in a promiscuous manner with a Hindi lower caste Indian male. The evidence was accepted by a British male medico and the charges were being pursued, apparently because he considered Australians to be lax about respecting the status of officers.17

{20} To put the seriousness of the charges in perspective, it is necessary to consider what was appropriate behaviour for AANS nurses at the time. In 1917, for example, reports that nurses from the 14th Australian General Hospital (14 AGH) in Egypt had been behaving in an untoward manner - keeping late hours, taking wine in public places, and smoking on the verandah while on duty - reached the matron-in-chief of the AIF, Miss Evelyn Conyers. In response to Conyers' claims, Matron Rose Creal of 14 AGH promptly replied that there was no substance to the rumours, that leave passes ceased at 11 pm, and nurses only took wine with meals in restaurants and hotels, not public places.18 She was quick to point out that no sisters would dare smoke in a public place, as they were aware that the consequences would be a return trip to Australia immediately.19 It is not difficult to imagine the distress that charges of behaving in a sexually promiscuous manner would have caused the unmarried women so accused at Deolali in 1918.

{21} The transcripts of the inquiry make distressing reading, but the findings of the Director-General of Medical Services in Australia (Major General R. H. J. Fetherston), who investigated the charges and subsequent proceedings, provide an excellent summary. In February Fetherston had been sent on a "voyage of enquiry" to overseas theatres of war, to investigate methods and organisation in the Australian Army Medical Service. He was on his way back to Australia after a tour of inspection in Egypt, and was actually at the point of sailing from Colombo, when he received instructions from the Secretary of the Department of Defence in Melbourne to visit India and fully inquire into the matter.

{22} Fetherston did as he was directed and was soon burning with outrage. Later remembered for his decisiveness, hatred of humbug and fearlessness "both moral and physical", he was characteristically blunt in his comments back to the Department. The papers he had received from Melbourne were copies which, he learnt from Davis, "had been sent to Australia by the Viceroy of India without having been seen by the nurses concerned or by the Principal Matron":

In fact they [the nurses] had asked for copies and had been refused; therefore they could not forward any statement to you. I had previously gone into this matter very fully, interviewed all the nurses concerned, all those who could furnish any information on the subject, and had also seen the Officer in Charge Deolali Hospital … I also saw the Chaplain of Deolali Hospital who had taken a great interest in the cases and was one of the very few who gave any help or assistance to the nurses who were falsely charged … The papers showed that every nurse was completely cleared of any imputation, but the treatment they received from the authorities in Bombay and Deolali Brigade, as the district is known, was, in my opinion, scandalous. General Knight, the general officer commanding the district, allowed these vile accusations to be made the subject of inquiry without taking the least trouble to verify them or to find out what evidence and what class of evidence was to be produced … When seen by Principal Matron Davis, he tried to excuse himself and stated that the whole trouble was caused by the nurses demanding a inquiry. The court … consisted of four members and not one word of help was given except from one member, a combatant officer. In fact everyone seems to have taken the whole matter as settled and proved without trial. Insinuations at the inquiry were made and not allowed to be contradicted at the court. Hearsay evidence was admitted. No one was allowed to be with the nurses in court, and Sister … had to sit alone for hours in the presence of several officers and hear the vile charges made against her without anyone as a companion.

One insinuation was made by Colonel Seddon that nurses had visited immoral houses. Two nurses, Sisters, (not those included in the charges) had on one occasion gone to afternoon tea with the widow of a non-commissioned officer … Whilst at this house a Sergeant Clerk came. They were only there a short time on one afternoon and knew nothing of anything wrong at the place and still believe it was and is a perfectly reputable home. This seems to have been the real origin of the attack on our nurses. Speaking to a non-commissioned officer, which in the eyes of many imperial officers is an unpardonable sin, and not being able to prove anything against these two nurses, the Camp Commandant started a foreign spy to work, who, to show his zeal and acumen trumped up some cases and told lies … In justice to the Australian nurses, I consider that further action should be taken to ensure their protection or else they should be withdrawn from India … Not one word of sympathy was spoken to any of the nurses and not a word written by those in authority … This matter was brought under the notice of these officials by me and one and all expressed regret and tried to excuse their neglect for various reasons, but when their action was explained to General Sir G. C. Monro, Commander-in-Chief, he was also indignant and at once volunteered to write and did write a letter of sympathy to nurse [X].'20

{23} General Fetherston may be correct in his analysis of why a British officer treated the Australian nurses with such disrespect. The reason why the Turkish prisoners of war (POW) turned against the Australian nurses, who had treated them well and endeavoured to accommodate their cultural and religious beliefs under trying circumstances, may relate to an earlier misunderstanding. Looking for a possible explanation, Principal Matron Davis recalled that when she accepted the POWs from the Red Crescent ship Firefly there had been a great deal of interest shown by Turkish officers in the nurses. Davis wrote: "The T.O.s [Turkish officers] were amused at our badges of rank and the conclusion they came to was:- That I was the wife of a captain; the sisters wives of 1st Lieuts. and the s/nurses wives of 2nd Lieuts. We did not bother to disillusion them."21 In short, the Turkish POWs believed the Australian nurses were all married women.

{24} The reason why the interpreter "spy" had been so persistent in undermining the respectability of the Australian nurses may relate to an earlier misunderstanding about the caste system that is part of the Hindi religion and culture. When Davis arrived at Victoria War Hospital in Bombay with her AANS nurses "there was no matron to give any information as when I took over she was ill … the ward work was performed by native servants of different casts [sic] and the main difficulties with them was to know what their duties were. There were ward boys who did the dusting, washing of lockers and dishes. Bhestis, who carried water to and from the patients. Sweepers, who swept floors and attended the latrines. Many were the mistakes made at first and as none of these servants could speak English and the sisters did not know Hindustani so all communication had to be made by sign and gesture."22

AWM H12571
Ward interior, 34 WGH, Deolali
AWM H12571

{25} In retrospect, it is surprising that greater problems were not caused by the lack of preparation of the Australian nurses before they were expected to nurse in India. They had been expected to manage a 800-bed hospital during wartime when the staff did not speak the same language; they had to try and appreciate the intricacies of the Hindi culture through sign and gesture; they provided personal body care to male Islamic POWs who believed they were married Christian women. While all this occurred earlier than the Deolali incident, Davis made a brief but important reference to the fact that "we never had less than 500 T. P. of W. [Turkish POWs] then the 34th WGH Deolali … took most of them."23 The above observations offer a possible explanation for the events at Deolali and neither excuse nor blame any party.

{26} Fetherston's reference to the need for an apology to one AANS nurse in particular is more than justified. The reason why she deserved special mention was because the charges which she had to endure included that she had sexual relations with a number of soldiers, orderlies, POWs and a lower caste Indian who was a sweeper. These claims were so damaging to her reputation that when asked in court if she had any statement to make, she replied, "I am not guilty of any of the accusations made and I have nothing further to state except that I consider that I have completely vindicated myself by my consent to be examined by a Medical Board." By a consent form which she signed on 14 May 1918, this nurse had submitted herself to be examined at the Sisters quarters at Deolali by a board of three male doctors, who declared her to be virgo intacta. Not surprisingly, all charges of immoral behaviour against her were dismissed.24

{27} The injustice of the accusations, and the obvious distress caused to the nurses, appears to have been matched only by the ability of the Army to keep the entire incident quiet. In her account of Australian Army nursing published in 1992, Jan Bassett stated that "The matrons' discretion was such that neither Miss Davis nor Miss Bennett even mentioned the inquiry at Deolali in their later accounts of their wartime experiences written for the official medical historian."25 There is, however, evidence that Davis and Bennett were actually ordered to withhold information about the incident, because the Viceroy of India considered it desirable to avoid scandal and publicity.26 In May 1918 the matter was brought to the attention of the Deputy Chief Censor, who was told that it was judged "desirable [to] avoid scandal or publicity and trust measures will be taken in Australia with conformity [to] this end.'27

{28} Not just these two nurse leaders, but Matron-in-Chief Conyers stayed silent. The medical historian, Colonel Graham Butler, accordingly also omitted the inquiry from the official history. One of the sisters who was mistakenly identified as one of the accused nurses makes a vague reference to her time at Deolali as being unpleasant.28 However, another of the sisters claimed that at the 34 Welsh General, "The Matron & Nursing Staff were Australians, and the male personnel RAMC, but it worked extremely well."29 This is indeed a strange entry when the court proceedings indicate that she requested a written apology for being falsely accused. Furthermore, there is no personal reference by the official medical historian to Colonels Seddon, Sheen or Maturin, or Acting Matron Bennett. Principal Matron Davis had a distinguished career, and she is mentioned a number of times, but there is no reference to the Deolali incident.30

{29} The decision to exclude all reference to the incident does not imply that the Army failed to take the situation seriously. It would be a fair assessment that it was a political decision, not a military one, to keep the matter quiet. After all, General Fetherston was instructed by the Secretary of the Defence Department to make a full inquiry into the matter,31 and he did so with his usual vigour. In many ways Fetherston was a true advocate for the AANS nurses during the First World War32 He has been criticised for some of his policies (such as making nurses wear badges of rank, which inadvertently prevented them from having social contact with non-commissioned officers,33 even though this was probably not his intention34) but his reports are littered with frustration at the lack of consideration given to the nurses in places like Lemnos, Salonika, India and at the casualty clearing stations in France. They are also full of praise for the good sense and straight thinking that many of the AANS nurses displayed when faced with these adversities.35

{30} Nevertheless, the Deolali incident was different. The nurses concerned were not enduring hardships because they were caring for soldiers who needed them. They were being victimised and it was not in the nature of the AANS nurse to relinquish the role of advocate and adopt that of a victim. When General Fetherston was asked to take the matter up, some three months after the inquiry, there was already evidence that the nurses at 34 WGH had begun to express their outrage by sending accounts of events back to friends and relatives in Australia.36

{31} In late July a Melbourne solicitor wrote to the Acting Prime Minister, W. A. Watt, enclosing an extract of a letter dated 6 June which was obviously from a nurse at 34 WGH although her name, signature and any other identifying marks had been removed.37 The solicitor declared that the "lady who has written the enclosed to me is known to me as an exceedingly conscientious and capable woman. She struggled hard to become qualified as a Nurse so that she might give her services to her country in this war. You will see from the enclosed how disgracefully these women have been treated."38 A week later the Sydney Bulletin published a small article outlining the snobbishness of civilians in India to the private soldier, and how negative rumors about the conduct of Australian nursing sisters had begun to circulate. The article makes no reference to the Deolali incident but the impact upon the AIF is obvious because a copy of the article is included in the archival file.39

{32} Acting Matron Alma Bennett continued to lead her nurses after the Deolali incident, although she can have been in no doubt about their keenness to leave India. She proved herself to be a worthy AANS leader and was later described by one of the nurses as "a very fine woman, [who] behaved with great dignity."40 She resumed her narrative for the official historian with the claim that "everything went on quietly until August when the Spanish Influenza made its appearance in the station":

We were getting in all the local admission cases, as the 44th BGH [a British General Hospital also located at Deolali] had been converted into an isolation hospital the previous month. There were thousands of troops in the station, so we began to be busy again. In September it was at its worst. Continuing until Oct. and Nov. Until that time the health of my staff had been excellent but early in Oct. they were attacked with influenza having been then nursing the cases some weeks they were tired and soon fell victims, 18 being off duty at one time. To my intense regret one of my staff nurses died Oct. 17th from pneumonia following influenza, only five days ill. Another on the D.I.[dangerously ill] list for 5 weeks had a tremendous fight for her life and ultimately made a good recovery. I had a sick Sisters hospital attached to the hospital and it was a veritable haven of rest to those poor tired Sisters after the distressing time they had had …'41

{33} Australian nurses in India were not confronted by the horror of nursing soldiers with severe battle wounds, shell-shock or the effects of gas. However, the staff of AANS went to one of the more adverse climates to care for soldiers from all religious and ethnic persuasions, including Turkish prisoners of war. At a military level, service in India may not have captured the imagination of the Australian psyche in the way that ANZAC, Beersheba or Pozières did, but from a nursing perspective the adverse conditions they endured deserves a place in history. This is particularly true for those nurses who endured unjust treatment, like those at Deolali, whose experiences are omitted from the official histories.

© Ruth Rae

The author

Ruth Rae completed training in nursing at the Parramatta Hospital in 1978. In 1993 she completed a Bachelor of Arts (in human bio-science and politics) at the University of New England, followed by a Master of Letters (politics) in 1994. Since receiving a PhD from Sydney University in 2001 for her research on Jessie Tomlins, an Australian Army nurse of the First World War, she has been employed as a freelance historian based at Tamworth, New South Wales.

 

Endnotes

  1. A. G. Butler (ed.), Official history of the Australian Army Medical Services 1914-18, 3 vols., (Melbourne & Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1930-43).
  2. Matron Kellett was appointed from 26 March to 11 May 1919 to assist the collator of the medical history war records section in compiling the records of the AANS. During this period she interviewed the 128 AANS nurses who were still in England at the time. See A. M. Kellett, AIF attestation papers and record of service, held by National Archives of Australia (NAA), Canberra, and A. M. Kellett, interviews containing accounts of nursing experiences in the AANS, Australian War Memorial 27, item 373/28 and AWM 41, items 988 and 1072.
  3. A. G. Butler, records of A. G. Butler, historian of Australian Army Medical Services - nurses' narratives, AWM 41, item 175.
  4. M. Collins & L. George, An alphabetical listing of nurses who went overseas with the AIF in World War I 1914-1918 unpublished ms (1995), held by AWM; R. Goodman, Our war nurses: the history of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (Brisbane: Boolarong Publications, 1988), p.41.
  5. Butler, Special problems and services, vol.3 of Official history of the Australian Army Medical Services in the war of 1914-1918 (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1943), p.569.
  6. Letter, Jessie Tomlins to Margaretta Tomlins (mother), 13 October 1916, in possession of author.
  7. Butler, Special problems and services, p.567n.
  8. Captain F. H. Wickham cited in J. Bassett, Guns and brooches: Australian Army nursing from the Boer War to the Gulf War (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992), p.76.
  9. Butler, Special problems and services, p.569.
  10. C. Woodham-Smith, Florence Nightingale 1820-1910 (London: Constable and Company Ltd., 1950), p.118.
  11. M. Barker, Nightingales in the mud (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1989), p.66.
  12. Nurses' narratives: Alma Bennett (1), AWM 41. All following quotes of Bennett's experiences are from this source.
  13. Letter, Principal Matron G. E. Davis to Miss E. Tracy Richardson, Matron-in-Chief AANS, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, 26 May 1918, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/516.
  14. Bassett, Guns and brooches, pp.78-80.
  15. Letter, Davis to Richardson, 26 May 1918.
  16. Memorandum, Davis to Major-General R. H. J. Fetherston, Director-General of Medical Services, 28 August 1918, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/531.
  17. Confidential minute by Fetherston, 13 December 1918, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/531.
  18. R. Rae, Jessie Tomlins: an Australian Army Nurse - World War One, PhD thesis, University of Sydney, 2001.
  19. Goodman, Our war nurses, p.86.
  20. Memorandum, Davis to Fetherston, 28 August 1918.
  21. Nurses' narratives: Principal Matron G. E. Davis (5), AWM 41.
  22. Davis narrative.
  23. Davis narrative.
  24. Memorandum, Davis to Fetherston, 28 August 1918, attachments A and B.
  25. Bassett, Guns and brooches, p.81.
  26. Decode of Cablegram from the Viceroy of India, 25 May 1918, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/411.
  27. Minute, Department of Defence, 28 May 1918, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/411.
  28. Kellett interview (no.84) with Miss McLean, AWM 5/45, 509.12.
  29. Kellett interview (no.13) with Miss C. Cadwallader, AWM 5/45, 509.12.
  30. Butler, Special problems and services, pp.567-9.
  31. Memorandum. T. Trumble to Fetherston, 7 August 1918, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/516.
  32. Letter, Fetherston to White, 14 March 1916, Fetherston papers, AWM 3DRL, 251, bundle 4, item 7 (ii of xiii).
  33. Bassett, Guns and brooches, p.79.
  34. Bassett, Guns and brooches, p.55.
  35. Letter, Fetherston to Major-General N. R. Howse, 13 March 1917, AWM 370.2.
  36. Letter, Davis to Richardson, 26 May 1918.
  37. Extract from letter dated 6 June 1918, unsigned, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/501.
  38. Letter, Arthur Johnston to Hon. W. A. Watt, Acting Prime Minister of Australia, 24 July 1918, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/501.
  39. Article from Bulletin (Sydney), 1 August 1918, with undated notation for General Fetherston and Defence stamp, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/514.
  40. Extract from letter dated 6 June 1918, unsigned, NAA, MP 367/1, item 527/27/501.
  41. Nurses' narratives: Alma Bennett, AWM 41.