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New Forum about the DAK and Tropical German army, and Allied army in WW2 only

#1 23-06-2013 10:07:05

Tin Soldier
Veteran DAK Member
From: Australia
Registered: 15-09-2011
Posts: 583

WW1 Australian/British Nurse (QAIMNSR)

I have been lucky enough to pick up some Nurses items of late to remember their service & dedication to the soldiers they cared for.
I was inspired to do this after reading a book (Oceans of Love) about an Australian Nurse who joined the Queen Alexandria's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve in England
in the early stages of WW1. Narrelle Hobbs was first sent to Egypt then onto to Malta & cared for the casualties from Gallipoli, then after that campaign she was sent onto Mesopotamia
until she became ill then sent to India to a specialist doctor. What was remarkable was in the three years that she was Nursing during the war i think in all she had two weeks off work.
As you know the casualties in WW1 the work was non stop. Unfortunately the illness turned out to be cancer, Narrelle was sent back to England for more specialist treatment but by this time it was too late.
Narrelle's sister went to England to bring her home but Narrelle died on her journey home two days out from Perth/Fremantle, Western Australia & was buried at sea at the age of 38 (LEST WE FORGET).
So from that day on i thought i have to do a display to remember these fantastic women.

There is an interesting story here … chive.html about a Miss Mary Rodwell an English Nurse who did one of the bravest things anyone can do.

WW2 Australian Propaganda poster after the sinking of the Australian Hospital Ship CENTAUR by a Japanese Submarine off the coast of Queensland.

Anyway so here goes big_smile

QAIMNSR on left QAIMNS on right, red rank stripes on sleeves both organisations had this rank system

The Tippet or small Cape worn over the shoulders for the QAIMNSR was grey with red border & the QAIMNS's Tippet or Cape was full red like you normally see being worn by most Nurse's of the time.
But there was that many different groups sometimes it's hard to work out who is who from the old photos, there was the British Army Nursing Service (A.N.S.), Australian Army Nursing
Service (A.A.N.S.), Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.), Red Cross (this was basicly a world wide organisation as it is today so uniforms slightly varied), St Johns Ambulance, Queen Alexandria's
Imperial Military Nursing Service (Q.A.I.M.N.S.) & Queen Alexandria's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (Q.A.I.M.N.S.R. as i have mentioned). Then you have all the others from the other
Commonwealth country's & allies, but all these uniforms were very similar in colour & style (grey ward dress, white apron & head scarf).
And as i have found out so far except for the Canadian Nurses who wore a blue ward dress with double breasted buttons, the soldiers used to call them the blue birds.
The only problem with any of these uniforms is that they are extremely rare and i have not seen any items of clothing/uniform parts in 20 years of collecting, well my luck changed about 2 months ago.
I found a site from England that had the Q.A.I.M.N.S.R. Tippet for sale so i jumped on it. The Tippet has some slight moth damage & some stains here & there but nothing serious and still displays
well, it is not dated but for items this rare who cares. The QAIMNS & QAIMNSR working/ward uniform hardly changed from WW1 to the Korean War only the working/ward grey dress slightly changed to
modernise it & it got shorter along with the white apron.

So that was only the start of bigger & better things, the same dealer emailed me about three weeks after this with the offer of a QAIMNSR Cloak or Cape which is the item in the other post
asking Jerry in regards to the cloth British Formation Patches sewn inside the Cloak to try & date the Cloak (thanks Jerry) and which confirmed to me that it was from the period around
the Malaya Emergency when Commonwealth Armed Forces fought against the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party from 1948-1960.

Then about two weeks ago i stumbled across a WW1 or pre-WW1 named Nurses Grey Working Dress on being sold by a fella from Canada, named inside both the bluse & skirt to
Helen Lawrie Smith, who joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps on 2nd February, 1916. I'm going to look into getting her full military records so i can check all the details.
Because this dress is a grey ward dress not the blue type that they were issued to go overseas, so think this one maybe the one she wore when in the Militia Medical Corps and thats why it survived?

So very happy now that i have a WW1 period Nurse's Grey Working Dress and as you can see by the length makes it look authentic WW1 period, not like that repro grey dress in the first
photos in the other post in regards to the British Patches. But i might use that one with the repro Red Tippet that came with it for a WW2 Medical display?
I'm still looking for an original white Head Scarf, Apron, Stand Up Collar, Protective Sleeve Covers & Cuffs as you can see being worn in the original photos so still not finished yet but very close.

I've actually contacted someone that makes the old fashioned stand-up collars here in Australia to make the white Collar, Belt & Cuffs for me so see what happens?
The Boots are original early 20th century period which i got from Germany which really finish it off nicely. And as you can see from the colour of the Tippet & the Dress you couldn't ask for
a better colour match, the dress is just a fraction lighter and i think this is just from being washed as they would have been washed constantly as a rule to keep everything as sterile as possible
so it's just faded more than the Tippet.

And it's interesting about the colour used for these uniforms, i have read but don't know if it's true that it was designed by a male Officer in the Medical Corps before WW1 who said that he made
it as dull as possible so the men would not be attracted, as he said that the Nurses were a nusiance to the men??? But we know that this obviously didn't work as many soldiers & nurses got married.

Interesting also that the most well known Shark other than the Great White (in Australia anyway) is called the Grey Nurse!
I'll always remember one of the Paul Hogan TV shows in the late 1970's showing people on the beach & the Jaws music started playing and all the fellas eye's started to open wide and all their
wives or girlfriends started to beat them over the head with bags & towels etc just as the music hit the climax then they show you a sexy girl (Delvene Delaney) as a nurse wearing the grey dress
walking along the waters edge, very funny.

Australian Nurses in Egypt 1915-16

British QAIMNSR & either Red Cross or VAD Nurse with British Soldier

WW1 Propaganda Postcard in regards to some of the Hospital ships sunk by U-Boats

My display I have managed to put together so far

The early 20th Century Boots

The QAIMNSR Tippet with the Rose feature on the back

This is the Dress owned by Helen Lawrie Smith also showing the first page of Declaration Papers

And here is the Cloak or Cape

The photo below shows the Canadian Blue Ward Dress with double breasted buttons worn by the
pretty lady on the left & their Dress Uniform on the right. Also shows how the cape was worn by most
Nursing Units not just the Canadians with the long material strips crossing over at the front

Last edited by Tin Soldier (24-06-2013 09:55:18)

It's all good and well to sing along when the world goes along with a song, but the man
worth while is the one who can smile when everything goes dead wrong.



#2 25-06-2013 00:46:21

Supreme DAK Member
From: Hokendauqua.Pa. U.S.A.
Registered: 23-06-2011
Posts: 1687

Re: WW1 Australian/British Nurse (QAIMNSR)

Great post! Never seen that stuff before. Rich A. in Pa.

1969 Shelby GT-500 King of the Road
Knowledge is power, guard it well.



#3 28-06-2013 19:41:47

From: Paris
Registered: 06-04-2011
Posts: 2042

Re: WW1 Australian/British Nurse (QAIMNSR)

Dear Tin, your historical threads are always incredible...many thanks for your knowledge in DAK Forum...

Take care



#4 29-06-2013 01:38:31

From: New Zealand
Registered: 08-04-2011
Posts: 1122

Re: WW1 Australian/British Nurse (QAIMNSR)

Bloody Wonderful!

Student & Collector of WWII German Tropical Militaria



#5 29-06-2013 07:37:41

Tin Soldier
Veteran DAK Member
From: Australia
Registered: 15-09-2011
Posts: 583

Re: WW1 Australian/British Nurse (QAIMNSR)

Quote from NZMark

Bloody Wonderful!

LOL,...thanks fellas wink


Last edited by Tin Soldier (29-06-2013 07:55:44)

It's all good and well to sing along when the world goes along with a song, but the man
worth while is the one who can smile when everything goes dead wrong.



#6 24-11-2013 08:35:41

Dawn Patrol
DAK Member
Registered: 18-10-2012
Posts: 81

Re: WW1 Australian/British Nurse (QAIMNSR)

Really interesting post. Thank you!



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