Connection to the Hunter Valley – a Newcastle girl born and bred, Matron Ida Mary Greaves trained at Newcastle Hospital. Her story deserves to be better known as she was ‘in the field’ within a month of the outbreak of war in August 1914, as Matron of the Australian Voluntary Hospital. In 1915 she and a Sydney nurse were the first Australian women to be awarded the Royal Red Cross during the War. Ida’s sister Susan also served with the Australian Voluntary Hospital. As Ida was not demobilised until March 1919, is it possible that she was the longest serving Novocastrian of the Great War?
Training and experience – educated at Newcastle Superior Public School, Tyrrell Street (now the site of Newcastle East Public School) graduated Newcastle Hospital 1904, appointed Matron of Burraga Hospital near Oberon in 1905, subsequently worked in private nursing in Australia and London until 1914. In 1908-1909 she was employed at Turanville, Scone by grazier Thomas Cook who was in failing health and died in 1912.
Service – Australian Voluntary Hospital and Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR). The Australian Voluntary Hospital was established under the aegis of Lady Rachel Dudley who had spent time in Australia before the War as the wife of the Governor General. Australians living in London made donations and offered their services. It was one of the first hospitals to go into the war zone in 1914. The commanding officer was also from Newcastle – Lt Colonel William L’estrange Eames was a Boer War veteran and a medical officer at Newcastle Hospital.
Service location – France and Belgium
Medals, awards and mentions – 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Royal Red Cross 1st Class. Mentioned in despatches on three occasions.
Click here to read about Ida’s war service and how she was awarded the Royal Red Cross.
See also: No ordinary set of medals …; More about the medals of Matron Ida Greaves RRC; A matron’s smile – Ida Greaves of the Australian Voluntary Hospital; More about the Royal Red Cross; “All I saw was the King and many blurred figures standing about.”
More detail and references …
Enlisted – 1914
Residence before embarkation – London
Return to Australia – embarked on H T Katoomba, arrived c.September 1919
Next-of-kin – mother, Sarah Greaves, Newcastle (died August 1918)
Relative in AIF – Nephews, Sapper Henry Campbell Greaves, 3rd Field Company Engineers & Private George Campbell Greaves, 4th Australian Motor Transport Company
Honour roll – none identified to date. Ida attended Newcastle Superior Public School now the site of Newcastle East Public School (NEPS). It is the NEPS honour roll that is on display in the building in 2016.
Marital status / married surname Single
Where born / parents – Newcastle / John William and Sarah Ellen Greaves
Ida Greaves died at Chatswood in 1954.
National Archives of Australia MT1487/1 GREAVES I & B2455 GREAVES H C
National Archives of UK WO/399/3290
Supplement to London Gazette, 22 June 1915, p.6010
Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 1915, p.5, retrieved from Trove 27 July 2010; 4 December 1915, & 9 February 1916,retrieved from Trove 19 May 2010
Newcastle Morning Herald, 9 December 1887; 7 July 1883; 29 August 1918 & 26 September 1919
Sydney Mail, 22 September 1915
Melbourne Argus, 28 October 1915, retrieved from Trove 27 July 2010
Hobart Mercury, 26 January 1946, retrieved from Trove 9 August 2010
Australasian Nurses’ Journal, Vol XIII No 7 July 1915; Vol XIV No 3 March 1916, p.83; Vol XV No 5 May 1917
Newcastle Hospital Report, December 1904
Ben Champion, Newcastle Hospital Register 1817-1915, The author, 1950
Audrey Armitage, A Golden Age of Nursing, Royal Newcastle Hospital Graduates’ Association Book Committee, Newcastle, 1991, p.96 – refers incorrectly to Matron Susan Greaves in the context of Australian Voluntary Hospital and award of the Royal Red Cross
Neil Smith, The History of the Australian Voluntary Hospital World War One, Mostly Unsung Military History Research and Publications, Brighton VIC, 2006, passim
Nancy Gray, Thomas Cook of Turanville, Scone & Upper Hunter Historical Society, 1977
Do you know more?
© Christine Bramble 2013