Frances Lillian MACKAY

MACKAY, Frances Lillian

Service Number: Nurse
Enlisted: 18 June 1916
Last Rank: Staff Nurse
Last Unit: Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1)
Born: Nhill, Victoria, 1888
Home Town: Violet Town, Strathbogie, Victoria
Schooling: Violet Town State School
Occupation: Nurse
Died: Natural Causes, Sydney, NSW, May 1984
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Beechworth Ovens District Hospital Great War Nurses, Euroa Telegraph Park, Netherby Baker State School Roll of Honor, Violet Town Honour Roll WW1, Violet Town St Dunstan's Honor Roll, Violet Town and District Women Who Served Mural and Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

18 Jun 1916: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, Nurse
30 Jun 1917: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '23' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: RMS Somali embarkation_ship_number: '' public_note: ''
30 Jun 1917: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), RMS Somali, Melbourne

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MACKAY Frances Lillian   Sister

Nurses wishing to serve in WW1 had to be between the ages of 21 and 40 years, single and had to have at least three years training in medical and surgical hospitals. For this they had to pay a fee. What they were not trained for and indeed what they didn’t foresee was that their services would be required in all manner of challenging conditions. Heat, flies, dust, mud, shortages of medical equipment, medication, suitable food, water – these were but a few of the difficulties that they faced.  They had to be resourceful and above all they had to be tough.

There was conflict between the military and nursing staff.  The military authorities decreed that matrons had no independent command and that all members of the AANS were under command of the CO of the unit to which they were attached.  There were clashes as nurses were unaware of military protocol.  Australian nurses would have found civilian hospital training at home different from that of QAINS (Queen Alexander Imperial Nursing Service) as their counterparts in England had undergone and that which English military medical officers expected. Although nurses were familiar with a disciplined environment, military nurses had to be aware of military discipline and etiquette.

In Casualty Clearing Stations (CCS) preparation for operations on wounded soldiers had to be minimal caused by the sheer number of patients. No time to remove whole garments.  Cutting mud-caked, blood-soaked clothes to expose only the operation site was quicker.   Patients sometimes had to be popped up with stones or had their beds made up on the ground.

Two daughters of Charles and Rebecca Mackay, Frances Lillian and Maud Mary enlisted in 1916.  Lillian was born in Nhill in 1888. The second of 10 children – Eileen, Lillian,  David, Maud, Edgar. Gordon, Frederick, John, May and Norma.  Lillian was the first of the sisters to enlist on 18 June 1916 when she was 28 years old.  She had trained at the Beechworth Hospital in as many facets of nursing as were available at the time.

She embarked on HMAT Somali  on 30 June 1916, disembarked in Bombay and was posted to the Victorian War Hospital.  She served in Bangalore, Port Said, France and finally in England.

Returning to Australia on HMAT Wiltshire she disembarked in August 1919 and was discharged in January the following year. Being an energetic and dedicated nurse she undertook further training in midwifery, established and operated a private hospital at Cohuna, nursed in West Australia and in various hospitals in NSW. In the 1960s she and her sister Maud established the Dee Why Nurses’ Club, a private nursing service.  At this time she applied for membership and was accepted into the Dee Why RSL sub-branch.

She never married, preferring to dedicate her life to the nursing service and children’s welfare. She was a quiet but assertive person especially on the subject of the role of women.  At the age of 75 she became the Matron of Kanowna Private Hospital, Leura.  At 85 she decided to retire from active nursing. She died just before reaching the age of 96 in May 1984.

Medals:   British War Medal    Overseas Service Medal.

Honour Rolls:  Main Honour Board, Memorial Hall, Violet Town,
                          St Dunstan’s Anglican Church

Tree No 2  -  Brachychiton acerifolius - Illawarra Flame Tree  - was planted in 1917 by Rev Williams.

It was still standing in 2013 when the Memorial Avenue was re-instated. It was tended by Gaye Brannan and Robin Quilty

© 2016 Sheila Burnell