Laura Jean (Tuck) ROUTLEDGE


Service Number: WFX17020
Enlisted: 15 March 1943, Hollywood, WA
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 2nd/7th Australian General Hospital
Born: Guildford, Western Australia, Australia, 6 November 1912
Home Town: Subiaco, Nedlands, Western Australia
Schooling: Perth Modern School
Occupation: Stenographer
Died: Natural Causes, Myaree, Western Australia, Australia, 3 March 2007, aged 94 years
Cemetery: Karrakatta Cemetery & Crematorium, Western Australia
Cremated - Garden of Rememberance: Section EC; Garden 22; Position 0072.
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World War 1 Service

15 Mar 1943: Enlisted WFX17020, 2nd/7th Australian General Hospital, Hollywood, WA

World War 2 Service

15 Mar 1943: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Sergeant, WFX17020
20 Jan 1947: Discharged WFX17020, 2nd/7th Australian General Hospital, AAMWS, Sergeant
20 Jan 1947: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Sergeant, WFX17020
Date unknown: Involvement WFX17020, 2nd/7th Australian General Hospital

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

Biography contributed by Michael Silver

The West Australian reported in June 1944 that Australian Army Medical Service (A.A.M.W.S.) personnel from New Guinea, proudly wearing the Eighth Army clasp on their Africa Star ribbons and three service chevrons on their sleeves, had returned home.

"Four West Australian members of the AAMWS are in Perth on leave from New Guinea. They are Misses Noelle Perry, Joan Richardson, Jean Robertson and Laura Routledge. They served as VAD's for 16 months in the Middle East with the 2/7th AGH, which was attached to the famous British Eighth Army. After returning to Australia with the 9th Division of the AIF and a short spell of duty at 110th AGH, Hollywood, they were sent to New Guinea to work at the 2/5th AGH.

Originally members of a larger group from Western Australia to serve with the 2/7th overseas, the girls explained we are now four - some have married, one, Miss Laurie Evans, is in charge of the AAMWS Club at Port Moresby, while another has remained in Sydney.

Stationed not far from Port Moresby, the girls lived in tents, with hut messrooms, within the precincts of the hospital; worked eight hours a day (nine when on evening duty) and spent most of their off-duty time washing and ironing, because it was necessary to change at least three times a day.

All four girls are enlisted as nursing orderlies but tackled any job that comes to hand. The first task of the day was to clean the kitchen, then they tidied wards, sponged patients, took temperatures, prepared special foods and many of them put in two months on mess duties in the sisters' quarters. Among the patients they helped to nurse were Sikhs who had been prisoners of the Japanese in the Admiralty Islands.

The girls had one rest day a week, spent picnicking or at their own club at Port Moresby, where a dance was held each Saturday evening. There was a strict rule that members of the AAMWS were not permitted to go anywhere unless they went in groups of three during the day and six in the evening; also that the names of proposed male escorts must be submitted 24 hours beforehand. They were, however, permitted to entertain in their own mess up to 10 pm and could invite whom they wished to their club which was opened about five months after their arrival in New Guinea.

Gardening was one of their most popular hobbies. Flowers particularly zinnias and asters, grew in profusion but results with vegetables were not so good. For instance, Miss Perry grew lettuce, but in her own words, "they grew to high heaven and ultimately I had lettuce that were as tall as myself!" Another girl had 30 cucumber plants in her garden but achieved only one cucumber."

Laura Routledge was discharged from the AAMWS in January 1947 and married Frank Kingston Fealy, a bank manager in Perth later that year. He was a Sergeant with 11th Division Signals during the war. They were married for 32 years until Frank's death in 1979.

Heavily involved in community activities where ever the couple lived, she maintained an active interest in veteran's matters, being secretary of the WA Middle East VAD Association (with wartime collegue Joan Dowson MBE OAM [nee Richardson] as President) until her passing in 2007 at the grand age of 94. 

Sources: The West Australian - 9 June 1944


Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Daughter of Mrs. N ROUTLEDGE, 81 Derby Road, Subiaco, WA