Penrith Workshops & WW1 Matron Grace Wilson

Join our Free Spring Workshops

for Trove or Australian War Records Online

Wednesday, 15th or 22nd October,  2014

at Penrith City Library Digital Hub

Trove_WW1 Drill Hall Penrith_PCLSS0081World War One soldiers and Red Cross volunteers Drill Hall Penrith. PCL SS0081

During our two recent winter workshops we explored the depths of the online collections available on Trove and the Australian War Memorial.

Matron Wilson, 3rd Australian General Hospital 1915-1918

Among the images we located in Trove was this one taken at Penrith during World War One which shows both the soldiers and the large number of women who volunteered for the Red Cross. While preparing the workshop I found the National Library of Australia’s June 2014 magazine which included an article about the centenary of the Australian Red Cross. One of our favourites in the Australian War Records Online was Matron Grace Margaret Wilson, who truly deserves to be included in the Australian War Memorials people profiles and biographies page. It was wonderful to discover her contribution to the Australian war effort was recently recognised in the recent ABC TV Series Anzac Girls and it is hoped that the Australian War Memorial will soon include her biography too.

AWM_3rd AGH_E02574Staff of the 3rd Australian General Hospital, at Abbeville, Somme, France 23 June 1918. AWM E02574

I discovered Matron Wilson while investigating the World War I records of a relative who was a stretcher bearer with the 3rd Australian General Hospital Field Ambulance who are shown here at the Somme in France in 1918. Amazingly, two other images also list the names of those in the photograph. Many of them embarked on the RMS ‘Mooltan’ which left Sydney on 15th May, 1915, the same as Matron Wilson which included many other hospital personnel. A ‘search for a person’ for Grace Wilson will lead you to the Embarkation Roll, and the honours and awards she received. If you search the Collection for the AANS-Australian Army Nursing Service or Matron Grace Wilson you should find this photo and her medals. 

AWM_Wilson H15304


AWM Images H15304 & RELAWM31816.002

If you look at the cover of the NLA magazine you’ll see how much the nurse looks like Matron Wilson, although that picture was taken from the illustration of a WWI musical score called The Red Cross nurse: march song and chorus. The portrait above includes the information that it is a ‘Studio portrait of Matron-in-Chief Grace Margaret Wilson CBE RRC of the Australian Army Nursing Service. Principal matron of the 1st Military District, on 15 April 1915 Wilson transferred to the Australian Imperial Force; as principal matron of No 3 Australian General Hospital, serving on Lemnos, Abbassia and Abbeville.’

From this brief description, we’ll turn next to Trove and find out more about Matron Wilson and her remarkable story.  

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