‘It will be a happy day when we come home’

Nyree Morrison shines a light on some personal vignettes from the Book of Remembrance.


Sydney's war
Favoured recruits

Emma Albani Buckley-Turkington, nee Buckley (MB 1911)

Marian Fuller Simpson (nee Windeyer), centre top, 1912

Marian Fuller Simpson (nee Windeyer), centre top, 1912

Emma worked at the Lister Institute in London in 1916. When you think of medics during the war, you think of them working directly behind the lines or with patients in hospitals – not working in laboratories looking for serum to cure the dysentery and typhus which were rife in in all fighting fronts during the war. Emma was working with rabbits, injecting them with a particular strain of dysentery isolated from cases from Gallipoli. In a letter to the Dean of Medicine, Sir Thomas Anderson Stuart (5/2/18), she writes:

It seems too bad also that we cease to be Australian citizens when we come away. They would not let any of us vote and they will not give us equal chances of work with the AIF, so we are neither one thing nor the other. The RAMC give us women positions in their hospitals but the AAMC casts us off. Still Australia is the best place on earth and it will be a happy day when we all come home again.

Elsie Jean Dalyell (MB 1909 ChM 1910) OBE

Elsie Dalyell, also a doctor, worked in a 500-bed fever hospital in Skopje, Serbia treating patients with the typhus, diptheria and dysentery that Buckley was trying to find serum for. In a letter to Professor Welsh (31/5/15) she writes:

It has been a revelation to see this place blossom into a clean, healthy, attractive hospital under the influence of our splendid nurses…their assistants are all Austrian prisoners, recovered from typhus and all hopelessly ignorant and inefficient to begin with but they turn themselves into admirable helpers.

Elsie was given £125 to spend on equipment for the laboratory – the microscope cost £23 and the autoclave £19. She shared her equipment with the American Sanitary Commission, which “proved equal to the strain”.

Elizabeth Isabel Hamilton Browne (MB 1909 ChM 1910)

In a letter also written to Anderson Stuart, Elizabeth writes: “I have seen Dr Dalyell, who is hoping to go back to Serbia soon, but have not an opportunity in seeing Dr Buckley who is still at the Lister Institute I believe.”

We know that brothers, cousins, fathers and sons were involved in the war but to find out that three women, from the same family with connections to the University dating back to 1852, all volunteered to help out is fascinating. The book only mentions three Windeyers and all of them are women.

Mabel Fuller Windeyer (nee Robinson) BA 1890, mother of Marian Fuller Simpson (nee Windeyer) (1893-c1986-87), Arts III and Lois Elwood Windeyer Arts I.

Mabel left Sydney on 25 July 1914, to take her naval cadet son to Osborne. She qualified as VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse in 1915 and returned to Australia in 1918. Marian also sailed with her mother and brother to England, and was also a nurse. She married in 1917 and never returned to Australia. Lois sailed in May 1915 to join her mother in London. She was a driver for the VAD and the British Red Cross. She returned to Australia in 1920.

Of the 2092 biographical entries in the Book of Remembrance, 23 are women, and two of them are masseuses:

Myril McDougall Lloyd (nee Bowman), BA 1910 (1887-1987) and Roslyn Newel Riordan (nee Rutherford)

The benefits of massage (which changed its name to physiotherapy in the 1930s) were being seen in hospitals before the war. But it gained prominence during and after the war in the rehabilitation of returned veterans. Myril and Roslyn trained in a special massage course at the University and both enlisted with the Almeric Paget Massage Corps in England.

One recurring theme in the files is the amount of letters or ephemera offered by families that their family member sent from the front before they died. In their grief they wanted their memory kept and their story to be told.

William Hay

William Hay was in his third year of engineering at Sydney University when war broke out…He was in the first landing party at ANZAC on 25 April 1915…He was invalided twice from Gallipoli…served in France…until badly gassed…sailed for Sydney via America four days after the Armistice…did not return to University but went on the land, first at Euralie, Yass, latterly at Inverlockie, Harden…He died very suddenly in Sydney from heart disease brought on by strain during the years of War, on 18 November 1937, in the 44th year of his age.

From Mrs Hay (mother) 10/3/38.

Nyree Morrison is The University Research Archivist