Tale of mysterious altruistic Anzac nurses begging to be told

IDA Greaves is not a household name in the Hunter but one woman is on a mission to change that.

Christine Bramble has compiled information for the past 15 years on all 76 military nurses who served during World War I.

She released a book, Sisters of the Valley, in 2011 but has now revamped her work online in an effort to gain more exposure.

BREAK: Tea time at Australian Casualty Clearing Station, France, 1917.

BREAK: Tea time at Australian Casualty Clearing Station, France, 1917.

RESEARCH: Christine Bramble has set up a blog/website to gather information on Hunter nurses who served during WW I. Picture: Darren Pateman

RESEARCH: Christine Bramble has set up a blog/website to gather information on Hunter nurses who served during WW I. Picture: Darren Pateman

HEROES BEHIND THE SCENES: Matron Ida Greaves (centre) with Australian Voluntary Hospital staff, August 27, 1914.  Pictures: Australian War Memorial

HEROES BEHIND THE SCENES: Matron Ida Greaves (centre) with Australian Voluntary Hospital staff, August 27, 1914. Pictures: Australian War Memorial

CARING: Staff and patients at Australian General Hospital in Egypt, 1916.

CARING: Staff and patients at Australian General Hospital in Egypt, 1916.

"We have a lot of information on some of the nurses but others are quite mysterious," she said.

"I'm interested in filling in more about their stories."

The most decorated nurse is unquestionably Ida Greaves yet her story is one not too many people would be familiar with.

Miss Greaves graduated from Newcastle Hospital in 1904 before moving to London.

When war broke out in July 1914 she was one of the

first to volunteer.

Ms Bramble described Miss Greaves as "one of those that ought to be better known".

"Ida Greaves went to northern France in August 1941 when the Germans were still advancing," she said.

"It was a time when they didn't know what to expect and it indicated a great degree of courage."

Miss Greaves was rewarded for her work when she became the first Australian recipient of the Royal Red Cross during the war.

Ms Bramble said she also wanted to gather additional information on the "mysterious" nurses and was aware digital media could open up more leads.

"There could be letters hidden in garages or memories in descendants' heads that might seem insignificant but could shed light on these amazing women," she said.

"There are only three lots of personal papers available on nurses in the Hunter so there has to be more out there."

Those who think they have information on a military nurse can visit Ms Bramble's website on http://huntervalleygreatwarnurses.com and post their comment.

DESPERATELY SEEKING

Can you supply more information on these nurses?

■ Nurse Brown (name on Islington Anglican Church honour roll).

■ Nurse M Chadwick (Newcastle East Public School honour roll).

■ Nurse Janet Forbes (Cooks Hill Public School honour roll).

■ Sister Stammer (Cessnock Hospital).

■ Nurse Betts (Dungog Hospital).

■ Nurse Thornton (name on Muswellbrook Citizens’ Memorial).