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Elizabeth McRae (MO)


Australian Army Nursing Service


Elizabeth McRae (MO) - Information

When nurse, Elizabeth McRae, decided to help the boys going off to war, her family was residing at Ben Lomond in Minto. She enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service on the 26th of April 1915, aged 37. Born in Cootamundra c1878, she subsequently earned her certification in General and Surgical Nursing, and trained at Orange Hospital from 1903 to 1907. She worked as a Sister in North Sydney and Kurri Kurri Hospital, as well as completed private nursing duties. She was appointed Staff Nurse with the 1st Australian General Hospital, and departed Sydney Harbour for war service on the 15th of May 1915 onboard the RMS Mooltan.

Elizabeth landed in Egypt, joining the 1st Australian General Hospital. Here, she was introduced to the terrible trauma of battlefield wounds, as she treated men coming in from Gallipoli. Bullet and bomb wounds were compounded by many the illnesses resulting from unsanitary conditions in the trenches and disease. After the Gallipoli campaign ended, Elizabeth was posted for nursing duties onboard the Hospital Ship Nestor leaving Suez on the 9th of February 1916. Returning to duty in Egypt mid year, Elizabeth unfortunately reported to hospital with the measles. Then in January 1917, she was detached for duty with the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Southall, London. Three months later, Elizabeth was transported to the theatre of war in France. Here, she once again joined the staff of the 1st Australian General Hospital. She continued to look after the poor lads mutilated by war. Her outstanding efforts were conveyed in a military order on the 14th of July by Lt. General Birdwood, commander of the AIF. Her name and accounts of her valuable service had even reached the desk of the Secretary of State for War. Thus, Elizabeth was promoted to Sister on the 1st of September. In January 1918, she was assigned to rather dangerous duty at the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station. Within range of enemy fire, the nurses at casualty stations tried to comfort the scared and filthy troops from the battlefields. Sadly, many went back to the slaughter due to lack of manpower. In March, Elizabeth gladly returned to the 1st Australian General Hospital. After the war ended, she was posted to AIF Headquarters in London in March 1919. She then began her journey home, leaving England in mid July. However, en route to Australia, she got off the ship in Colombo, India, where she was granted two months leave.