O'KANE, Rosa

Service Number: Staff Nurse
Enlisted: 7 October 1918
Last Rank: Staff Nurse
Last Unit: Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1)
Born: Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia , 14 April 1890
Home Town: Charters Towers, Charters Towers, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Nurse
Died: Pneumonic Influenza, Quarantine Station, Fremantle, Western Australia, 21 December 1918, aged 28 years
Cemetery: Quarantine Station, Woodman Point, Perth, Western Australia
Memorials: Australian Military Nurses Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Kapunda Dutton Park Memorial Bullwinkel Memorial, Maryborough Nurses HB, Melbourne St. Paul's Cathedral AANS Great War Roll of Honour, Queensland Australian Army Nursing Service Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

7 Oct 1918: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, Staff Nurse, Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1)
14 Oct 1918: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, Staff Nurse, Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1),

--- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '23' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: SS Wyreema embarkation_ship_number: '' public_note: ''

14 Oct 1918: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, Staff Nurse, Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), SS Wyreema, Sydney
21 Dec 1918: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: awm_unit: Australian Army Nursing Service awm_rank: Staff Nurse awm_died_date: 1918-12-21

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Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

Daughter of John Gregory and Jeanie Elizabeth O'KANE
Of Deane St., Charters Towers, North Queensland
Trained at Townsville General Hospital
Appointed Matron of the Winton Hospital, resigning to go to the front.


When the troopship Wyreema was recalled from Capetown, owing to the signing of the Armistice, she carried a detachment of 40 Australian army nursing sisters as reinforcements for Salonika. The troopship Boonah was two days behind the Wyreema, and a number of the troops on board contracted pneumonic influenza. A request was received by Lieutenant Colonel P. M. McFarlane, who was in command of the troops on the Wyreema, to land 20 nursing sisters to help nurse the Boonah patients at the Woodman's Point quarantine station, Fremantle. Volunteers were invited, and so many offered that the names were placed in a hat and 20 drawn out. Three of them made the supreme sacrifice—Sister Rosa O'Kane, Nurse Hilda Williams, and Nurse Ridgeway— and a number of the others contracted the disease. Sister Rosa O'Kane was the only daughter of Mrs. J. G. O'Kane, of Charters Towers, and the late Mr. J. G. O'Kane, sister of Messrs. Frank and J. G. O'Kane, and grand-daughter of the late Mr. Thaddeus O'Kane, formerly proprietor of "The Northern Miner," and a prominent journalist of his time. Sister O'Kane's grave, with a headstone erected by the patriotic committee of Charters Towers in memory of her magnificent self-sacrifice, is in the only military cemetery in Australia— that at Woodman's Point— and each Anzac Day a contingent of returned soldiers visits the cemetery and places wreathes on the graves of the three nurses who made the supreme sacrifice.

The Brisbane Courier Wednesday 11 November 1931 page 13

Nurse Dies on Duty

Sister Rosa O'Kane, whose death is reported from Perth through influenza, left Victoria about eight weeks ago on a transport for "service somewhere." On the voyage a wireless message was received from the military authorities in South Africa, calling for volunteers to nurse influenza patients in quarantine. In responding to the call of duty, Sister O'Kane made the supreme sacrifice.

Sister O'Kane is a daughter of Mrs J. E. O'Kane, Ryan street, Charters Towers, Queensland. She joined the military service in Queensland on October 7 and embarked at Sydney for overseas duty as a staff nurse on
October 14.

Weekly Times Saturday 28 December 1918 page 38

To the Editor.
Sir,-In your issue of December 23 last I read a report of the military funeral of my niece, Sister Rosa O'Kane, of Victoria, who bad died of pneumonic influenza at Woodman's Point, and should like you to know that Sister
O'Kane was from Charters Towers, North Queensland, and was trained in the Townsville Hospital. After passing her final examination she was appointed matron of the Winton Hospital, but a short time afterwards was called up for military service and spent eleven months in the military hospital, Brisbane, awaiting her call to the front. The call came too late, as peace was declared before she reached the Cape and the ship was turned back to Australia. Sister O'Kane's last letter was dated December 9 and she expected to be in Fremantle next day and home for Christmas. The next news I got was of her illness and death. I write this just to ask that Queensland (where Sister Rosa O'Kane had many friends) be given the credit of her great sacrifice.
-Yours, etc.,(Mrs.) It. J. HALL. Titles Office. Brisbane, Jan. .10.

The West Australia Wednesday 22 January 1919 page 6

General regret was expressed in Townsville, when' it became known that Sister Rosa O'Kane Had made the supreme sacrifice, dying from the effects of that dread scourge, Spanish influenza, whilst nursing the soldier patients at Woodman's Point, Western Australia. Sister O'Kane, who received her training at the Townsville
Hospital, was a splendid type of Irish Australian womanhood, and during her course of training in Townsville made hosts of friends by her lovable disposition. Heart felt sympathy is extended to her mother, Mrs. O'Kane, in her irreparable loss --

The Catholic Press Thursday 16 January 1919 page 42


A touching picture is conveyed in a letter from one of the quarantine sisters, describing burial of Sister 0'Kane:—'Between. 2 a.m.,and. 3 a.m. on a beautiful moonlight night, writes Sister Morris, 'four sailors carried the body, (wrapped in a winding sheet of the Union Jack) to the mortuary out in the scrub. Later in the day the burial took place at the quarantine station. The nurses made little wreaths from West Australian wild flowers, which were placed on the coffin with the Union Jack. I did not leave the grave side till the 'Last Post' was sounded. 'Over Sister O'Kane's grave is a granite column; erected by her friends in Queensland and upon the other nurses' graves, as well as on the 17 or 18 graves of the soldier victims, are the simple white crosses, which mark our soldiers' graves the world over. The men buried here are from the Eastern States and New Zealand.
Let us, then, on Anzac Day, - think fora moment of that lonely little cemetery in the bush and those white sanded graves lying in the sunlight in the sound of the murmuring sea.

The West Australian Tuesday 25 April 1933 page 4