Sophia Hill (Sophie) DURHAM MID, MBE

DURHAM, Sophia Hill

Service Numbers: Not yet discovered
Enlisted: 7 November 1914
Last Rank: Sister
Last Unit: 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF
Born: Singleton, New South Wales, Australia, 26 January 1886
Home Town: Darlinghurst, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Warkworth Public School, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Nurse
Died: Natural causes, Springwood, New South Wales, Australia, 8 July 1965, aged 79 years
Cemetery: Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, NSW
Cremated
Memorials: Sydney Hospital Staff of Active Service Honor Roll
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World War 1 Service

7 Nov 1914: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF
28 Nov 1914: Involvement 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF
28 Nov 1914: Embarked 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF, HMAT Kyarra, Sydney
25 Apr 1915: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, Australian Army Nursing Service, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
31 Oct 1915: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF, HT Aeneas, Suez as nursing staff for wounded returning to Australia - arriving Melbourne 26 November 1915.
1 Dec 1915: Promoted Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF
3 Feb 1916: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF, HMAT Wandilla, Sydney for Egypt - arriving 7 March 1916.
1 Jun 1917: Honoured Mention in Dispatches
16 Jan 1919: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF, HT City of York, Liverpool as nursing staff for return to Australia - arriving Melbourne 27 February 1919 thence by rail to Sydney.
21 Apr 1919: Discharged Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF

Non Warlike Service

1 Jan 1941: Honoured Member of the Order of the British Empire, For social welfare services in the Commonwealth of Australia.

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Biography contributed by Michael Silver

Sister Sophia Hill Durham MBE was born at Patricks Plains near Singleton, New South Wales in 1886, the only daughter of five children of William James Hill Durham and his wife Annie Orman Bennison.  Known as Sophie, she attended Warkworth Public School and is named on the school’s honour roll.  Three of her brothers also served during the Great War.

She entered nursing at Maitland Hospital before undertaking training at Sydney Hospital in 1909. She passed her examination for Australian Trained Nurses’ Association membership in 1913.

In early November 1914 she enlisted as a Staff Nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service and left Australia in HMAT ‘Kyarra’ two weeks later with the 2nd Australian General Hospital. After arriving in Egypt in January 1915 she served at Mena House, Cairo before being assigned to hospital ship duty. She was part of the nursing staff in the hospital ship ‘Gascon’ anchored off Gaba Tepe on the morning of 25 April 1915 as the famous landing unfolded.

She continued to work in the 'Gascon', as it ferried wounded to Lemnos, Egypt and Malta, until September when she returned to nursing duties in Egypt. In November 1915 she was assigned to transport duty on the 'Aeneas', carrying wounded soldiers back to Australia. Promoted to Sister, she returned to overseas duty in early 1916 initially in Egypt before being transferred to France to join the British Epeditionary Forces.

Sister Durham was to serve in various hospitals in France over the next 12 months - Marseilles, Bologne, Wimereux, Trois Arbres and Abbeville. She was Mentioned in Despatches by General Sir Douglas Haig in April 1917 before being posted to duty with the 2nd Australian Auxillary Hospital at Southall in England for the balance of the war. She returned to Australia as part of the nursing staff in HT 'City of York' in early 1919.

After the war, Sophie took a lead role amongst returned nurses as a member of the founding committee of the NSW nurses’ branch of the Returned Soldiers’ and Sailors’ League, serving many years as President of the sub-branch. She was awarded the MBE in the 1941 new year’s honours list for “social welfare services in the Commonwealth of Australia”.

Sister Sophie Durham MBE died suddenly at her home 'Southall', Springwood, New South Wales on 8 July 1965 aged 79 years.

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