Doctor Soldier Ellis Murphy

Sir Oswald ‘Ellis’ Joseph Murphy (1895–1980) was a prominent physician, who settled in Brisbane after the First World War. Having graduated from Sydney University in 1918, he joined the first AIF and served as Regimental Medical Officer, No 4 Australian General Hospital, Randwick, New South Wales from 1919-1920.

Members of the 2/2nd Casualty Clearing Station display their Christmas gifts from the Australian Comforts Fund, December 1940. (John Oxley Library)

Doctor Murphy opened a general practice in South Brisbane and was appointed senior physician at the Mater Public Hospital from 1923 to 1939. Initially interested in neurology, he later turned to chest disease and cardiology, lecturing at the newly opened Queensland University Medical School at the Brisbane General Hospital, Herston. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Murphy enlisted with the Australian Army Medical Corps.

Nurses of the 2/2nd Casualty Clearing Station, Amirya, Egypt, January 1941. Dr Murphy is standing at the rear of the group. (John Oxley Library collection)

He saw service in the Middle East, at the Siege of Tobruk, in Eritrea and in Ceylon, with the 2/2nd Casualty Clearance Station, returning to Australia in 1942 as a lieutenant colonel and senior physician with the 2/4th Australian General Hospital.

Souvenir album of postcards & pressed flowers from the Holy Land. (John Oxley Library collection)

From 1944 to 1954, he served as physician at Brisbane General Hospital, and was visiting physician at Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital and Kenmore Sanatorium. Murphy was also a lecturer in tropical diseases at The University of Queensland and an acting professor of medicine from 1950 to 1954. In 1963, he was knighted for services to medicine.

Diary extract, 16 February 1942 describing the news of the fall of Singapore to Japanese forces. The Diary, a printed 1941 issue, was used by Murphy to record entries for 1942 and 1943. (John Oxley Library collection)

Selected items from two collections held by State Library of Queensland, have been included in the new digital installation at the state’s war memorial, Anzac Square, Brisbane, which opened July 2019.

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