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Elizabeth Chisholm Thomson

2nd Lieutenant/Staff Nurse/Masseuse

Australian Army Nursing Service


Elizabeth Chisholm Thomson - Information

Elizabeth Chisholm Thomson was born in Campbelltown c1875. When the war commenced, Elizabeth was living with her family in Kelvin at 16 Gordon St in Burwood. She then began supporting herself working as a masseuse. Deciding to join the Australian Army Nursing Service, she signed up on the 21st of August 1915 in Sydney, at the age of 40.

Elizabeth was sent overseas from Sydney onboard the RMS Morea, the very day she volunteered. Nurses and medical staff were in such demand that countless women were immediately dispatched, many having to make do with any semblance of a military uniform that they could muster. Upon arrival in Egypt, Elizabeth was attached to the 10th Australian General Hospital and then the 2nd Australian General Hospital in late September. Elizabeth and her comrades experienced the horrors of modern warfare with the wounded brought in from the Gallipoli Campaign. Ghastly wounds and the screams of young men in pain were matched by the poor hygienic conditions, heat and flies. In the new year, Elizabeth was stationed for nursing duties on a round trip onboard the HMAT Ulysses between January and February 1916. By April, she had returned to Egypt for duty in Heliopolis. She was then posted to Catarah, however, the poor conditions and proximity to sick soldiers began to take its toll. In late August, Elizabeth was admitted to the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Cairo with dysentery and debility. By October, she was feeling better, and was assigned duty with the Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Southall, London. Elizabeth worked hard to take care of the sick and wounded that filled her wards. She would have seen horrific mutilations and injuries from artillery shells, machine gun fire and gas attacks, which dominated fighting on the Western Front. She was then lucky to be sent back to Australia in February 1917. On the 24th of May, Elizabeth was discharged from military service and returned to her civilian life.