ANZAC girls in India

This feisty looking lady, wearing a lovely smile and Indian anklets, isNurse Annie Grant Sim“Tim” who served in India during the First World War. The State Library of Queensland has recently digitised a photograph album, of her time in the East.

Annie who was  born in Ipswich, enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service, on 19 May 1917. Aged 26 she sailed from Sydney for service in India a week later, along with 53 other nurses - 14 from Queensland, 18 from Victoria, 1 from NSW, 15 from South Australia and 5 from Western Australia.

On board S.S. Khiva, 1917

Annie Sim was assigned toNo 34 Welsh Hospital, Deolali, which was situated in open hill country, 260 km north east of Bombay .  It was a huge complex of old barracks, bungalows and huts, spread over 2.5 km and could house over 2000 patients.

Between July 1916 to 1919, 560 members of the AANS served in India, alongside their British counterparts, where they faced the challenges of culture, language, an oppressive climate and primitive conditions.

They nursed British and Indian soldiers and Turkish prisoners of war, with diseases such as malaria, smallpox, Spanish influenza and cholera, illnesses to which some nurses succumbed.

The postcard above shows six Queensland nurses in rickshaws, no doubt as they were about to embark on a tour of Colombo, in December 1917.

They are from left to right: Amy Warner, Ada Hockings, Alice Harrod, Margaret Halpin, Christina Durack and Constance Frost.

Like any service personnel who serve overseas, Annie and her fellow nurses took the opportunity to explore the historical sites of interest, when off duty.

Her album is full of snapshots showing the marvels of India and its people. Above from left are: Beatrice Leyland, Winifred Payne (at rear), Annie Sim and Olga Parkinson.

AANS Cricket Team, Deolali, 1918

While many of the images are small and often quite faded, there are others that are amazingly clear, like the one below of the group taking tea, in Bombay.

Nurse Annie Sim served in Bombay until April 1919, when she returned to Australia. She married Cuthbert Thomas Porter in 1919 and lived in Queensland, until she died aged 96.

Further reading:

Marg Powell
QANZAC 100 Content Technician
State Library of Queensland


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