Q ANZAC 100 in the regions: Rockhampton
The guests were enthusiastically welcomed to the Rockhampton Regional Library by Ann-Maree Dyer, Client Services Supervisor at the library. The library is hosing the projection 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.
Janet Stevenson, who conducts Unisong Community Choir, has 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 tribute to a local personality.
The guest speaker for the evening was Ashley Reid who is a member of the Country Hospital Museum in Rockhampton. As a retired nurse with fifty years nursing experience and coming from a family with proud military history, Ashley was inspired to discover the local First World War nursing stories. She has conducted extensive research to uncover uncover those stories and honour these nurses through the resulting recently published Australian Army Nursing Service World War One : local nurses : who were they? This research includes the 18 nurses who trained at the Rockhampton Hospital.
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 and 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 until being posted to India in 1918 and later Pakistan. After the war Alice traveled to England marrying British Army Captain Charles Woolsey and at the outbreak of the Second World War joined the 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 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 for through State Library's catalogue.
Thank you to Councillor Ellen Smith for launching the Q ANZAC 100 projection at the Rockhampton Regional Library and sharing her personal connections with First World War along with comments relating to Anzac Day and the important work that the Rockhampton History Centre undertakes locally.
The library put on a display of heritage items from the Central Queensland collection. Included 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 and helping to commemorate First World One contributions of local people.
For further information:
- Australian Army Nursing Service World War One : local nurses : who were they?
- Q ANZAC 100 blog: E.T. Shorley: First World War Lyricist and Poet digital story
- Q ANZAC 100 blog: The comfort work of Annie and Portia Wheeler
- Discovering Annie Wheeler digital story
- 30575 Alice Ethel Imison photographs 1914-1945