This research by Christine Bramble was first published as Sisters of the Valley: First World War Nurses from Newcastle and the Hunter Region, Royal Newcastle Hospital Graduate Nurses’ Association Inc., The Junction, with assistance from the Australian Government ‘Saluting their Service’ program. It tells the stories of the trained nurses from the region that were military nurses in Australia or overseas during the Great War.
About 10,000 men from the Hunter region signed up to fight with the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) raised to assist Britain and its allies against Germany and the Central Powers. It might be argued that the story of eighty-one women is insignificant by comparison. This is not so. By the nature of the work that they did they influenced the fate of many thousands of sick and wounded men.
Matron Ida Greaves, a graduate of Newcastle Hospital, was one of the first Australian women to serve in a field hospital during the War. She and Sydney nurse Matron Nora Fletcher were the first Australian women to be awarded the Royal Red Cross during the War. Few people from Ida Greaves’ home town are aware of this.
Since publication of the book additional information has come to light about individuals. I have also identified more nurses with a connection to the region and will be adding their names gradually as I continue the research. This website and blog provides a means of updating the story and gives descendants and others the opportunity to contribute.
© Christine Bramble 2013