Sister Sophia Hill “Sophie” or “Sophy” DURHAM MID MBE 1886 – 1965

Sister Sophy Durham.  Photo:  Australian War Memorial.

Sister Sophy Durham. Photo: Australian War Memorial.

Connection with the Hunter Valley – Sister Sophie Durham was born at Patricks Plains.  She attended Warkworth Public School and is named on the school’s honour roll.  She may have begun her training at Maitland Hospital.

Training and experience – completed her training at Sydney Hospital and may also have worked there subsequently, passed membership  examination for Australian Trained Nurses’ Association  in 1913.

Service – Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS)

Service location – Hospital ships, Egypt, France, UK. On the hospital ship Gascon at the Dardanelles on 25 April 1915 – for a moving account of the work of the nurses on this ship, read Chapter 2 of Susanna De Vries, Australian Heroines of World War One, Pirgos Press, Brisbane, 2013.  See also “A sightseeing expedition holds up the ship.”

Medals and mentions – 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and MID (gazetted Second Supplement to London Gazette, 1 June 1917, p.5424)

Sophie took a lead role amongst returned nurses on her return to Australia as a member of the founding committee of the NSW nurses’ branch of the Returned Soldiers’ and Sailors’ League. (Sydney Morning Herald,19 December 1928, p.6, retrieved from Trove 10 August 2010).  She was awarded the MBE in 1941 for “social welfare services in the Commonwealth of Australia”.


National Archives of Australia B2455 DURHAM S H

Nominal Roll of the First AIF Australian War Memorial (AWM) AWM133,15-041

Embarkation Roll of the First AIF AWM 2 Australian General Hospital (November 1914)

Second Supplement to London Gazette, 1 June 1917, p.5424; Supplement to London Gazette, 1 January 1941, p.17

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 1928, p.6, retrieved from Trove 10 August 2010; 1 January 1941, p.6, retrieved from Trove 30 August 2011

Maitland Weekly Mercury, 22 April 1916, p.5

Australasian Nurses’ Journal, Vol XII No 12, 15 December 1914, pp.398-403 – an account of the departure of a nursing contingent on the Kyarra.  Sister Durham is in the group photo on p.399.

© Christine Bramble 2013

2 thoughts on “Sister Sophia Hill “Sophie” or “Sophy” DURHAM MID MBE 1886 – 1965

  1. barbara locking

    I would like to know if there is any connection to a William Durham born 26th November 1888 at Patrick Plains nsw Australia and died on 24th June 1946. He married Elsie Janet Mason from Cooks Hill, Newcastle. William Durham being my grandfather
    Barbara Locking – nee Bishop – my mother is Jean Irene Bishop nee Durham his daughter

    1. Great War Nurses from Newcastle & the Hunter Region Post author

      Thanks for your enquiry, Barbara.The parents of Sophie Durham were William James and Hannah. The parents of William Durham born 1888 were William Francis and Annie. As they were from the same area it is highly likely that there was a family connection – William James and William Francis may have been cousins. The parents of William James (ie grandparents of Sophie) were William and Sophia. You would need to investigate links between your William Francis and these grandparents. Good luck with it!


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