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Q ANZAC 100 in the regions: Rockhampton

By JOL Admin | 4 May 2018

Unisong Community Choir performing at Rockhampton Regional Library

On 20 April, 2018, Q ANZAC 100 representative Niles Elvery had the pleasure of participating in the launch event for the Q ANZAC 100 projection at Rockhampton Regional Library.

Ann-Maree Dyer welcoming guests to the event.

Guests were enthusiastically welcomed by Client Services Supervisor, Ann-Maree Dyer, and the Rockhampton Regional Library. The library hosted the projection daily from 20 April to 19 May 2018.

Unisong Community Choir began the evening with a rousing rendition of Tipperary which included the final verse being "its a long way to dear Rockhampton".  Tipperary was commonly sung by the Australian troops serving overseas during the First World War. This was followed by Wheeler March in recognition of Mrs Annie Wheeler or Mother Anzac, soldiers' welfare worker who served the troops from central Queensland.

Unisong Community Choir conducted by Janet Stevenson and accompanied by Mary Steer

Unisong Community Choir conductor Janet Stevenson had previously researched the contribution of E.T. (Ezra Thomas) Shorley, poet and lyricist who published a number of songs towards the end of the First World War. Two of his songs were also performed by the choir during the evening (The Day of Victory and Joy Bells are Ringing) providing a fitting conclusion to the evening and a tribute to another Rockhampton personality.

Guest speaker: Ashley Reid

Guest speaker for the evening was Ashley Reid, a key member of  the Country Hospital Museum in Rockhampton. A retired nurse with fifty years nursing experience and coming from a family with a proud military history, Ashley was inspired by the local First World War nursing stories. She conducted extensive research to uncover those stories and honour the nurses. This resulted in the publication Australian Army Nursing Service World War One : local nurses : who were they? This research tells the stories of 18 nurses who trained at the Rockhampton Hospital.

Country Hospital Museum in Rockhampton

Ashley's strong conviction to undertake her research was cemented when she attended State Library's Q ANZAC 100 Heritage Leaders Workshop in 2014 where the uncovering of untold First World War stories was a primary focus.

Nurse Alice Imison

In her presentation, Ashley shared the story of nurse, Alice Ethel Imison, from Laidley in Queensland who trained at the Rockhampton Hospital. Alice completed her training in January 1917, enlisting in the Australian Army Nursing Service in August of the same year. Without sufficient nursing experience to serve overseas, Alice was sent to the Australian General Hospital at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. She was posted to India in 1918 and later Pakistan. After the war Alice travelled to England and married British Army Captain Charles Woolsey. At the outbreak of the Second World War she joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Services where she served with distinction. Between 1940 and 1945 Alice served in France, Egypt, Lebanon, Italy and Belgium. Her service in France earned her a Royal Red Cross Medal together with a personal letter from King George VI for her service evacuating wounded soldiers from Dunkirk at the fall of France.

Ashley Reid with memorabilia from Sister Alice Imison including her war medals

Ashley relayed the story of the chance donation of Alice's collection from the family custodian and the entrusting of the collection of photographs to State Library of Queensland. These images have been digitised and are available online through State Library's catalogue.

Councillor Ellen Smith launching the Q ANZAC 100 projection

Thank you to Councillor Ellen Smith for launching the Q ANZAC 100 projection at the Rockhampton Regional Library and for sharing her personal connections with the First World War along with comments relating to Anzac Day and the important work that the Rockhampton History Centre undertakes locally.

Q ANZAC 100 projection showing in the foyer of the Rockhampton Regional Library
Postcards from the front on display from the Queensland Collection, Rockhampton Regional Library

The library displayed heritage items from the Central Queensland collection. Among the items were a selection of postcards from the Shirley Jones collection which contains letters and postcards sent to Thomas Dobby during the First World War from friends and family from Egypt and the Western Front 1915 - 1918.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to a very successful evening, helping to commemorate the First World War contributions by local people.

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