Service Number: Sister
Enlisted: 26 April 1915
Last Rank: Sister
Last Unit: 3rd Australian General Hospital - WW1
Born: Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia, 4 April 1886
Home Town: Sydney, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Nurse
Died: Stroke, Lady Gowrie Red Cross Convalescent Home, Gordon, NSW, 17 January 1964, aged 77 years
Cemetery: Privately Cremated
Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, 199 Delhi Road, North Ryde NSW 2113.
Memorials: Bundaberg Australian Service Nurses Memorial Wall, Nanango War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

26 Apr 1915: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, Sister, Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1)
15 May 1915: Involvement 3rd Australian General Hospital - WW1
15 May 1915: Embarked 3rd Australian General Hospital - WW1, RMS Mooltan, Sydney
9 Oct 1915: Discharged Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, 3rd Australian General Hospital - WW1, Resigned due to childbirth

Help us honour Amy Curtis's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Born 1889 at Bundaberg, Qld.
Daughter of William Edward and Mary nee BOREHAM
Married 1914 in Qld.
Wife of Col. Thomas Henry FIASCHI (Second Marriage at the age of 71 years)

Resigned appointment in Egypt 09 October 1915
Mrs Fiaschi was advised by Colonel Fetherstone to enlist as Amy CURTIS, her maiden name, as married women were ineligible for o/seas service.
She resigned her appointment at about the time Col Fiaschi was invalided to England with BerriBerri.
Col Fiaschi temporarily resigned his appointment with the AIF in July 1916 and became surgeon of a Military Hospital in Schio, Italy where he was joined by his wife who worked for the Italian Red Cross


Biography contributed by Sue Smith

Amy Curtis was born on the 4th April 1886 at Bundaberg QLD, the second youngest of 10 children and youngest of 5 daughters of William and Mary Curtis.  Her father was Mayor of Bundaberg twice...1884 and 1893.  Her mother died in 1902 when Amy was 16 and her father remarried a year later. 

Amy commenced her nursing training at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in 1907.  She completed her studies in 1909 with a 95.6% average, the highest ever at the time, along with a gold medal.  She secured a position with a doctor in Adaminaby in the Snowy Mountains NSW. 

In 1912 she commenced working as a nurse/receptionist for Dr Thomas Fiaschi, a prominent surgeon in Sydney.  His wife Kate had faithfully served in this role for many years but her health was declining so Amy took over from her.  Amy was a very competent nurse and a well-organised manager and she became indispensable to Dr Fiaschi after Kate’s death in August 1913. 

Amy and Thomas became a couple and in spite of opposition from both families, they were married a year later on the 19th August 1914 at the Anglican Christ Church, Bundaberg.  Thomas was 61 and Amy was 28.  They returned to Sydney to their home “The Astor” at 123 Macquarie Street. 

Thomas had served as a surgeon in the Italian Army in the Abyssinian War in 1896 and then for Australia in the Boer War in 1899-1900.  He was awarded the DSO and mentioned in despatches for his services in the Boer War.  When WW1 broke out he was serving as the Principal Medical Office (PMO) to the 2nd Military District of the Commonwealth (NSW) for the Australian Army.  After the Gallipoli landings in April 1915 he asked the British War Office to set up a military hospital on the Greek island of Lemnos to treat the wounded from Gallipoli.  In response to his request, the No. 3 Australian General Hospital (3AGH) was formed with Thomas as its first Commander. 

Amy enlisted as a Sister in the Australian Army Nursing service on the 26th April 1915 but under her maiden name.  This was against the rules as married nurses were not permitted to serve.  She was posted to the 3AGH with Thomas.  Two of Amy’s brothers enlisted for WW1 with the younger one Vincent also being posted to the 3AGH.  On 15th May 1915 the unit left Sydney for England on RMS Mooltan, one month after Thomas had requested its formation.  She’s described as having a fair complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair.  She was 5ft 3ins tall so Thomas towered over her at 6ft tall.

The nursing unit, under the leadership of Matron Grace Wilson, arrived in Plymouth, England, on the 27th June 1915.  On 1st July 3AGH was ordered to proceed to Lemnos Island instead of the expected destination of France.  Thomas and most of the men embarked from Devonport on the transport HMS Simla on the 12th July.  The nurses embarked 6 days later and during the voyage it was discovered that Amy was pregnant so when the ship arrived at Alexandria Egypt on the 1st August she was put ashore along with Sister Anne Donnell as her midwife.  Amy gave birth to their first daughter Eliza on 11th September in Egypt and resigned from the nursing service a month later.  She and the baby travelled to Italy and stayed with Thomas’ sister. 

Just 2 months after Eliza’s birth on the 3rd November 1915 Thomas was evacuated to England due to ill health.  Amy left Eliza with Thomas’ sister and joined him in England while he convalesced for 3 months.  While in England in 1916 a second daughter was born but sadly, she died.  Thomas was then offered a position at a military hospital in England but not being happy with that he requested to be sent back to Australia.  He and Amy travelled to Italy to spend time with family and collect their daughter before returning to Australia.  Upon arrival there Thomas heard that the Italians urgently needed surgeons so he resigned from the AIF and joined the Italian Army being appointed to the Red Cross as General in charge of the surgical department of the hospital at Schio.  Amy served with him in the Red Cross for 12 months while Eliza remained with her Aunt in Italy.  The family returned to Australia in 1917 on the SS Garonne and during the journey Amy gave birth to a third daughter, Giulia at Auckland NZ.  Sadly, after their arrival in Australia, Guilia died on 13th November aged 3 weeks old.  A fourth daughter, Olivia, was born in Sydney in 1919. 

Thomas and Amy and their 2 daughters moved to Woollahra NSW and in 1926 Thomas retired from military service as an honorary Brigadier General.  That same year he and Amy bought the vineyard ‘Augustine’ in Mudgee NSW.  Thomas had previously bought a property in Sackville NSW and established a vineyard there in 1882 called Tizzana, named after the village where he was born in Italy.  He built a winery there in 1887.  Amy took on a leading role at Tizzana and developed the skills and knowledge needed to successfully operate the winery and both vineyards. 

In late March 1927 Thomas contracted bronchitis while at the vineyard at Mudgee which then developed into broncho-pneumonia.  He was ill for about 3½ weeks before passing away, aged 73 years, on 17th April 1927 at his son Piero’s home at Darling Point NSW. 

After Thomas’ death Amy assumed full control of both vineyards and the wine distribution outlet in Sydney...Tizzana Wine Cellar.  She was a member of the Australian Wine Producers’ Association and at the time, the only woman to both grow grapes and make her own wine, winning major local and international awards. 

Amy and stepson Piero assumed joint care of Thomas’ intellectually handicapped son Ludovico from his first marriage until his death in 1944. 

In the 1950s, when she was in her early 60s, she handed over control of both vineyards to concentrate on the Tizzana Wine Cellar in Sydney.  In 1955 it was vandalized and set on fire. 

Amy suffered a stroke and died on the 17th January 1964 at the Lady Gowrie Red Cross Convalescent Home at Gordon NSW.  She was aged 77.  She was cremated at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium and was survived by her 2 daughters Eliza and Olivia. 

Amy’s name appears on the Bundaberg War Nurses Memorial and the Nanango War Memorial.             

Amy Curtis was awarded for service in WW1 the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Respectfully submitted by Sue Smith 20th November 2021.