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The War Effort of New Zealand

On Home Service

page 102

On Home Service.

The work of the nurses on Home Service must not be forgotten. In July, 1915, the outbreak of cerebro spinal meningitis at Trentham camp first called for their service. Here, Sister Brandon, just back from Samoa and waiting to join the Hospital Ship Maheno was sent to
On Hospital Ship Maheno (last trip)—Miss McAllum, C.R.R.C., Matron.

On Hospital Ship Maheno (last trip)—Miss McAllum, C.R.R.C., Matron.

page 103organise a temporary hospital. Here, she and the few nurses who could be hastily gathered together, brought order out of chaos. They worked day and night and saved many lives, aided by women untrained but eager to help.

Throughout the years of war, too, the nurses in the home hospitals worked splendidly and never more so than in November and December, 1918, when the epidemic of pneumonic influenza played such havoc in New Zealand. At that time when the supply of nurses was not in any way equal to the demand, the sisters at Trentham, Featherston, and at the Rotorua Military Hospitals, showed wonderful endurance, and remained on duty even when seriously ill themselves. One nurse, Sister Wishaw, fell victim herself and died of pneumonia. She was accorded a military funeral, her coffin heading a melancholy procession of six.

On transport duty, when there were outbreaks of illness, the nurses performed splendid service. Sister Maxfield and the staff under her accompanying the 40th reinforcements on the Tahiti, received the highest commendation for their work in the terrible epidemic of influenza, when every doctor on board was ill, as well as the greater number of the sisters. Sister Tubman fell a victim, and she died shortly after reaching England.

Twelve New Zealand sisters gained the Royal Red Cross, 1st class. The first to win this coveted honour was Miss Bertha Nurse, who was Matron, first of the Samoa Hospital and then of the Pont de Koubbeh Hospital, and later of Brockenhurst, England. Others to obtain it were Miss Thurston, Matron-in-chief of the Expeditionary Force; Miss Maclean, Matron-in-chief of the Army Nursing Service, at Head-quarters, New Zealand; Miss Brooke, Miss Wilson, Miss Vida Maclean, Miss McNie, Miss Ingles, Miss Pengelly, Miss Price, Miss Anderson and Miss Clarke. Sixty-four gained the second-class of this order. Many sisters were also mentioned in despatches.

A branch of the Army Nursing Service was the Massage Corps. This was established when the need for such treatment was demonstrated, and there were among the 579 members of the Nursing Service thirty-one masseuses. The page 104masseuses performed splendid and valuable work in aiding the recovery and restoration of the men to normal life.

On the termination of the war, the nurses as they returned to New Zealand, were either retained for home service in the military hospitals and wards, or were demobilised and placed on the Reserve. They were given twenty-eight days' leave, and, a privilege which was much appreciated, a twenty-eight days' pass on the railways. Those unfit for service were given a pension. The Nursing Service, represented by a large contingent returning on the Tainui and by those who had already returned and could be gathered together, were given a hearty welcome and were entertained at a very pleasant function at Parliament Buildings by the Acting-Prime Minister and Minister of Defence (the Hon. Sir James Allen), who paid a fine tribute to what they had done on active service.

Here, I think, we may leave the New Zealand Nursing Service, so hastily formed but so well established. The services of our devoted nurses will not be soon forgotten by the men who came under their ministrations.

Miss H. Maclean, Matron in Chief

Miss H. Maclean, Matron in Chief