“the heat was so great that we were worn out by the middle of the day” – nursing in India

Sister Hazel Lowrey spent most of her time at hospitals in India.  In 1919 she provided an account of her experiences for the official medical history of the War.
his extract from her interview indicates how nurses were moved around and might encounter a variety of working and living conditions. 

The full transcript of interview is available in the Australian War Memorial Research Centre, AWM41/1072.  Reproduced with the permission of the Australian Army.

[Victoria War Hospital][i] was a very well equipped Hospital, but I was only there for about a month.  I then went to the Byculla Club for Officers and stayed there for two months.  This was a beautiful place, good conditions, and well equipped.

The cases were mostly wounded from Mesopotamia.  We found the mosquitoes a fearful nuisance.  There was also much malaria there.

From there I went to the Deccan British Hospital, Poonah, and here again there was an Australian Nursing Staff with an R.A.M.C.[ii] male personnel.  We worked under excellent conditions.   Food was very good and our billets were quite nice.  The organisation was splendid.  After two months, I went to the plains at Jubbulpore.  The conditions were not so good, and we were very isolated.  I was there for ten months.  The sisters’ mess was 2 ½ miles from the Hospital, and we spent all our time driving to and from the Hospital.  The hours of duty seemed very long, owing to the long journey from our billets and the heat was so great that we were worn out by the middle of the day.

From there, I went to the Hills, to Naini Tai, which was a station hospital.  It was a convalescent hospital for enterics.  We were not well-equipped, but we had enough for the work, and the patients made good progress.

I stayed there for 12 months, and then went to the Freeman Thomas War Hospital in Bombay, relieving for a fortnight.  Whilst there, we had an epidemic of influenza.  I was very glad to get away as the conditions were bad.  My orders came for me to cross to England, but before that, I did a little duty at Suez at the 71st B.G.H.[iii], where we were the first batch of sisters[iv] that they had had, and the English Matron gave us a real good time.  We worked here during the influenza epidemic, and we had a great number of deaths.  I found Egypt very cold after India.

I was then transferred to 14th A.G.H.[v], and stayed there for about 10 days before leaving for England.  I was detailed for duty at No 3 A.A.H.[vi], Darford, where I am now awaiting transport to Australia.


[i] Boths hospitals referred to in this paragraph were in the city of Mumbai, known as Bombay at the time of the Great War.

[ii] R.A.M.C. = Royal Army Medical Corps

[iii] B.G.H. = British General Hospital

[iv] This should probably read “Australian sisters”

[v] A.G.H. = Australian General Hospital

[vi] A.A.H. = Australian Auxiliary Hospital


© Christine Bramble 2013

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