ANZAC girls in India
By Marg Powell, Specialist Library Technician, Metadata Services | 12 January 2016
Nurse Annie Sim, 4946 Pierce Collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.
This feisty looking lady, wearing a lovely smile and Indian anklets, is Nurse 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, 4934 Pierce Collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
Annie Sim was assigned to No 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.
Convalescents, No 34 Welsh Hospital, Deolali, India, ca.1917
Item 0051, 4934 Pierce Collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
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.
Australian nurses, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1917
Item 102, 4934 Pierce Collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
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.
At the Horseshoe Gate of the Buland Darwaza in Fatehpur Sikri, India, 1918
Item 80, 4934 Pierce Collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
Nurses' cricket team at No. 34 Welsh Hospital, Deolali, India, 1918
Item 110, 4934 Pierce Collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
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.
Taking tea, Bombay, 1917
Item 6, 4934 Pierce Collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
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.
- 4934 Pierce Collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
- Service Record: SIM, Annie Grant
- Embarkation roll
- Our war nurses: the history of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps 1902-1988, by Rupert Goodman
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