• Mabel Adeline Rachel Pilkington

Army / Flying Corps
  • Australian Army Nursing Service
  • Sister

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  • 1914–1915 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Birth

    Cobden, VIC, Australia

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Heliopolis, Cairo Governorate, Egypt

Stories and comments
    • PILKINGTON, Mabel Adeline Rachel – Sister, AANS
    • Posted by FrevFord, Monday, 19 August 2019

    Mabel was born (Rachel Adeline Mabel) on the 16th of June 1882 at Cobden, Vic – the daughter of Robert PILKINGTON and Jessie Elizabeth RAE, who married in Vic in 1875 Family residence during the war years: "Heatherlea," 22 Hannan St, Williamstown Jessie died at Mabel’s home in St Arnaud on the 9/1/1933, aged 76 Siblings: *Francis William (Frank) b.1875 Cobden – d.1949; *Robert Hamlet Wade b.26/4/1877 Terang – Blacksmith – marr Frances Emily DYKES 17/1/1900 (Div 1909) – Boer War: Farrier Sgt 676, Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts – WW1: Cpl TS/8869 ASC (Brit Army), disch 20/12/1918 from 3 West Gen Hosp, Cardiff – d.26/11/1919 Cardiff, Wales; *Joseph James b.1878 Black River – Telegraphist –Boer War: Pte 508, 2nd Aus Comm Horse – WW1: Gnr 3234, 6th FAB – marr Essie KENNEDY 1927 – d.4/9/1931 R.P.A.H., NSW; *John Leslie b.1880 – Boer War: Tpr 422, 2nd Imp LH – marr Nellie – WW1: Pte 965, 2nd LH – d.15/6/1946 Qld; *Donald Stuart b.1885 – NZ 1908 – WW1: NZEF (possibly under an alias); *Norman Percival – Boer War – marr Beatrice – WW1: Pte 3736, 43rd Bn – d.1951 Yass, NSW; *Thomas b.1888; *Myrtle Olivia b.1889 – d.1898 (age 9); *Mary b.&d.1891; *Lilian Irene b.1892 – marr Wm Jas DAVIS 1912 (WW1: Pte 3100, 5th Bn – d.7/7/1931) – marr PATRICK – d.1980; *Archibald Clarence b.1894 Geelong – marr Ada Vera – WW1: Pte 1268, 13th LH – d.1/9/1967 Qld Religion: Presbyterian Living with her parents at 188 Nelson Rd, Sth Melbourne in 1903 Trained in nursing at the Bendigo Hospital for 3 years – qualifying as a member of the Royal Victorian Trained Nurses’ Association in June 1911 It was noted in July 1912 that Sister Pilkington had resigned from the Bendigo Hospital Served for 6 months as a night nurse at the Glenhope Private Hospital Appointed Matron of the St Arnaud Hospital in January 1913, she was granted leave when accepted for service with the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) on the 19/3/1915 WW1 Service: Mabel officially joined the AANS on the 10/4/1915 as a Staff Nurse. She sailed from Sydney on the 13th of that month with the Special Reinforcements for the 1st Australian General Hospital (AGH) on the A55 Kyarra for Egypt. Experiencing intense heat all the way, with the twenty hospital beds continuously full throughout, mostly with cases of pneumonia and measles, the Kyarra finally reached Suez seven weeks later, where they disembarked and were taken by train to Cairo and then on to Heliopolis. The 1st AGH had taken over the Palace Hotel / Casino, which with all its grandeur added to the exhaustion of their long hours on duty, with its hard tiled floors and endlessly long corridors. In a letter dated the 24/6/1915 Mabel wrote: “We get desperately busy when the trains come in. About three weeks ago we had the record day of any military hospital in 24 hours. We admitted 950 wounded to this place. We had five trains. The first one came in at 1 a.m., then at intervals right through the day. The line is just beside us, the train pulls up at a siding, and we all watch out of the windows to see how many stretcher cases we are getting. The bugle blows “fall in” when a train is signalled, and the orderlies and admitting surgeons and physicians assemble at their respective posts. There is an immense can of iced lemon squash or coffee and biscuits ready, and the orderlies see that each man, as he is brought into the big vestibule, is looked after while his particulars are being taken. Everyone works at high pressure for some hours until every man is bathed and clad in clean pyjamas, their wounds dressed afresh, and, best of all, they are put into a comfortable, clean bed.” Detailed to the Helouan Convalescent Depot 18/3/1916, where she served for 11 days The 1st AGH sailed from Alexandria 30/3/1916 on the HS Salta to join the British Expeditionary Forces in France. Reaching Marseilles on the 5/4/1916, the nursing staff disembarked on the 8/4/1916, then entrained for Rouen on the 10th, arriving on the 12th. Not long after their arrival in France Mabel wrote: “We always get the wounded in the small hours of the morning, and they have generally been in the train seventeen or eighteen hours. They come from Armentieres and near Ypres. We have the task of digging off the trench-dirt and train-dust. Poor old Tommies! All worn out – some poisoned by gas, and others burnt by bombs. Everywhere here the most rigid economy is practised – such a change after the lavishness of Egypt!” On UK Leave 18/12/1916 Proceeded to the Convalescent Home at Etretat on sick leave 6/1/1917, rejoining her Unit on the 16/1/1917 Transferred from the 1st AGH to the 2nd AGH, Abbeville 20/2/1917 Promoted to Sister 3/4/1917 To hospital with Gastralgia 8/5/1917, before rejoining the 1st AGH, Rouen 19/5/1917 UK Leave 12/9/1917, and transferred to England 27/9/1917 Attached to the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Southall 13/11/1917 Transferred on duty to the Southwell Gardens Hospital for sick Australian nurses on the 29/11/1917 Following an Appendicitis operation Mabel was invalided to Australia for a change, embarking on the Corinthic, 10/1/1918. Disembarking in Melbourne on the 3/3/1918 she was then posted for duty at the 5th AGH in St Kilda Rd. During her time back home, she resigned her position as Matron of the St Arnaud Hospital, as “owing to various causes, she had no intention of resuming the position at the end of the war”. Having put her name forward again for overseas service, Mabel embarked in Sydney 16/10/1918 on the SS Malta for India. Disembarking in Bombay 3 days after the Armistice, on the 14/11/1918, she was posted to the Gerard Freeman Thomas Hospital on the 16/11/1918. On the 24/1/1919 she was transferred to the Station Hospital at Delhi, where she remained until the end of the year. Her final return to Australia began on the 8/12/1919 when she embarked in Bombay on the SS Janus, which disembarked in Melbourne on the 11/1/1920. [In February 1920 the Rokeby Private Hospital in Scott St, Warracknabeal was put up for sale] The Rokeby Private Hospital was also noted as Sister Pilkington’s Private Hospital in 1922 The 1924 electoral roll shows Mabel working as a nursing sister at Rokeby, Scott St, Warracknabeal [The hospital was auctioned (Mortgagee’s sale) on 14/11/1924] Mabel married George Alexander LORIMER on the 5th August 1924 at Scots Church, Melbourne [George, who had been born in Dunolly, Vic, in 1875, had served with the AIF during the war as CQMS 5044 with the 23rd Battalion] 1926 Electoral Roll: Napier St, St Arnaud (Mabel, Home duties; George, Clerk) 1928, 1949 ER: Burke St, St Arnaud (as above) 1954 ER: 18 Devon St, Box Hill Sth (no occup) Mabel died on the 20th of August 1956 at Heidelberg, Vic, aged 71 She was buried in the Box Hill Cemetery George died in 1959 **************** The Ballarat Star (Vic), Fri 7 Jul 1911 (p.2): TRAINED NURSES – EXAMINATION RESULTS The following candidates were successful at the examinations conducted by the Royal Victorian Trained Nurses’ Association in June last: – …………………, Mabel Pilkington, …………………………………… Fitzroy City Press (Vic), Sat 25 Jan 1913 (p.2): Miss Mabel A. Pilkington, of Fitzroy, has been appointed the matron of the hospital at St Arnaud. The Ballarat Courier (Vic), Mon 8 Mar 1915 (p.6): ST ARNAUD ESSAY FOR NURSES Matron Pilkington, of the St Arnaud Hospital, and Nurse Holmes divided first honors in an essay competition on the subject of “The After Nursing of a Case of Operation for Suppurative Appendicitis.” The competition was open to members of the R.V.T.N.A. and trainees of Victorian Training Schools. Bendigonian (Vic), Tue 23 Mar 1915 (p.13): NURSE FOR THE FRONT St Arnaud, 20th March Miss Mabel Pilkington, matron of the St Arnaud Hospital, and a well-known former nurse of the Bendigo Hospital, where she trained, received an urgent telegram yesterday from the authorities, stating that her services were immediately required for service abroad as a trained nurse. Miss Pilkington proceeded to Melbourne yesterday afternoon on a week-end ticket, and she will be back on Monday. Miss Pilkington is expected to leave St Arnaud finally in a week’s time. She has been extremely popular here. The unanimous verdict is that she is the best matron the local hospital has ever had. St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Wed 31 Mar 1915 (p.2): ST ARNAUD HOSPITAL A POPULAR MATRON – PRESENTED WITH A PURSE OF SOVEREIGNS When the public announcement was made that Miss Pilkington, matron of the St Arnaud Hospital, was going to the war as a nurse, she was heartily congratulated on the fact that she had placed her skilful services at the disposal of the Defence authorities. The public will be glad to hear that Miss Pilkington’s position as head of the nursing staff here is to be kept open for her. She was the guest of the committee and officers at a very pleasant function on Friday night last at the Town Hall. Mr R. Scott, president of the Hospital, occupied the chair, and, after cordially welcoming Miss Pilkington, he announced that the committee and officers desired to make a small presentation to her as a token of esteem before she went to the war. They wished to mark their appreciation of Miss Pilkington’s services as matron. (Applause) Mr H.W. Dunkley, as the oldest member of the hospital committee, in supplementing the remarks of the president, congratulated Miss Pilkington on her nerve in taking a position in which there was a certain amount of danger. The work, however, was one of mercy, and she would certainly carry out her duties satisfactorily. Miss Pilkington was the first lady of this district who had been accepted for war duty. He was sure she would be of great service to our friends the Allies. The matron would be missed very much in St Arnaud. The committee had granted her leave of absence during the time she was at the war, and when she returned to St Arnaud she would be heartily welcomed. (Applause) Dr Charles Fleming, house surgeon at the hospital, spoke in highly complimentary terms of Miss Pilkington. She had fulfilled her duties with considerable skill and tact. Her skill as a nurse was exceptional. The doctor mentioned instances in serious cases where the matron’s prompt action had had very successful results; and she handled refractory cases excellently. He admired Miss Pilkington, and other Sisters who were going to the front. Miss Pilkington knew full well that she was going to the war with her life in her hands. This was an indication of her pluck, and all her friends and aquaintances here wished her luck, knowing full well that she would do herself credit. (Applause) ………………………………………………………………….. The president here handed Miss Pilkington a purse of sovereigns, and expressed the hope that she would have a pleasant voyage, a safe landing, and a speedy return. (Applause) Dr Fleming acknowledged the gift in appropriate terms on behalf of Miss Pilkington, who was very thankful for the handsome present, which she would value highly. …………………………………………….. MATRON SAILS THIS WEEK Miss Pilkington left St Arnaud on Monday morning by first train for Melbourne. She will sail for the front this week. Prior to her departure, the nurses at the hospital presented Miss Pilkington with a handsome thermos flask. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/92013545 St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Wed 14 Apr 1915 (p.2): ST ARNAUD HOSPITAL The next business was the appointment of a Sister for the hospital, to take the place of Sister Jackson, who had been promoted to the position of acting matron during the absence at the war of the matron, Miss Pilkington. St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Wed 15 Sept 1915 (p.2): LETTER FROM MATRON PILKINGTON Matron Pilkington, of the St Arnaud Hospital, who is at present on the nursing staff of the 1st Australian General Hospital, A.I.F., Heliopolis, Egypt, has written, under date June 24th, 1915, an interesting letter to Mr R. Scott and other members of the hospital committee, as follows: – You will know ere this that I have reached Egypt, though at times I wondered if we would ever get here. The SS …… leaves much to be desired as a troopship. It took us seven weeks and two days to reach Suez. Twice we were stuck on a sand bank, several hours each time, and as the tanks had all to be emptied on the port side, we came into port with a dreadful list on. The heat was intense all the way, and the hospital, which contained twenty beds, was full all the time, mostly pneumonia and measles. We also had an operation for appendicitis. We put the man off at ……, but I do not think his chance was very good. We stood about a mile out, and a steam launch took him off to the hospital there. We were all so disappointed we were not allowed leave at ……, or ……, as the port is called. We stayed about 24 hours, and my brother was in charge of an armed guard on the wharf there. I was allowed half a miserable hour on the pier to talk to him, under the eyes of the frowning heads, etc., so of course wasn’t very happy leaving. We got into the S.W. monsoons about four days out of ……, and we were all dreadfully mal-der merish. The old boat could only do five knots during that time, consequently we were three days late reaching ….., so that meant we could only have 24 hours’ leave there while the boat coaled. Never will I forget that scene. All the ebony natives hauling up the coal in sacks on their backs. Of course we got off on to land, as the boat got filthy in a very short time. I won’t stop to describe ….. here as I can tell you that when I return. We did not call at Aden, and we disembarked at Suez and came up by train to Cairo, then on to Heliopolis. The heat at Suez was unmentionable – in fact we often say we will never know what it is to feel cold again. The thermometer rose to 128 degrees in the shade last Wednesday, and the wind off the desert was as hot as from an engine room. Eighty of the men were sunstruck in and around Cairo that day, and an officer and two men expired. We usually get cool nights here so it is rather more bearable. The heat here is very dry and light, and I think after all, easier to live in than the Australian heat. Our water supply is by artesian boring. Consequently the water is full of lime and very hard, but beautifully cool and clear. The place is all lighted by electricity, and there is an electric train running to Cairo every 10 minutes. The journey takes about twenty minutes, the distance being five miles. It is a beautiful, wide asphalt road all the way. This place has only been rebuilt during the last nine years. It was originally the ancient city of On – frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. The place teems with camps and improvised hospitals. The Luna Park holds over 2000 beds, and several palaces, which were built as Turkish harems, are being used as hospitals. This palace is one of the most magnificent in the world. It contains 1600 rooms, and over 600 bedrooms. To each two bedrooms there is a bathroom attached, and they are all beautifully furnished. It was built as a modern Casino gaming house to outrival Monte Carlo, but was never used as such, as the licence was not granted. It cost £1,000,000, so you will understand the grandeur we are living amongst. Every part of it that can be is used as hospital, outdoor and indoor. The piazza holds 1,000. There are about 70 or 80 nursing sisters here. Miss Ralston, one time matron of the St Arnaud hospital, is one of the sisters. The Queensland sisters are with us, and the Victorians. We last twelve are called the reinforcements to this hospital, which is the 1st Australian General. The “Mooltan” reached here a week ago. It contained the 3rd Australian General Hospital, most of whom are at Alexandria. Thirty-eight of them are nursing at Luna Park. The work is heavy – the floors are all cement or a kind of concrete, and the corridors are nearly half a mile long. They are all flagged and tiled. Our feet ache after our long day on, which means 13 hours continuous duty. Of course we have nursing orderlies, light duty orderlies, ward masters, quarter masters, etc. It is all wheels within wheels, and red tape is very much in evidence. Miss Bell is the principal matron, and Lieut. Col. Ramsay Smith the O.C. We get desperately busy when the trains come in. About three weeks ago we had the record day of any military hospital in 24 hours. We admitted 950 wounded to this place. We had five trains. The first one came in at 1 a.m., then at intervals right through the day. The line is just beside us, the train pulls up at a siding, and we all watch out of the windows to see how many stretcher cases we are getting. The bugle blows “fall in” when a train is signalled, and the orderlies and admitting surgeons and physicians assemble at their respective posts. There is an immense can of iced lemon squash or coffee and biscuits ready, and the orderlies see that each man, as he is brought into the big vestibule, is looked after while his particulars are being taken. Everyone works at high pressure for some hours until every man is bathed and clad in clean pyjamas, their wounds dressed afresh, and, best of all, they are put into a comfortable, clean bed. The shocking things we see, the stories the men tell us, are all so terrible we feel so glad we are here to help them, even if we can only give each patient scant attention. Their spirits are just wonderful, and they put on such a brave air over their pitiable wounds. Lots have limbs missing, eyes gone, deaf through explosions, all sorts of dreadful things wrong with them. One of the dispensers here, Mr J.R. Hodgson, is a cousin of Mrs Templeman, and comes from Cope Cope. Sister Miller is also here, here home is Avon Plains, but she joined from West Australia. I hear that Mr Jack, late of the St Arnaud post office, is wounded, but have not heard of him here, so many of the cases are kept at Alexandria. There are fully 11 big hospitals taking in wounded between here and Alexandria, which is 3½ hours journey in the train from here. Sister Miller told me she was getting fresh linen out last evening, and came across a bundle of towels from St Arnaud Red Cross Society. Will you tell the people how pleased we were; it was like a message from St Arnaud. The Red Cross all over the world has done wonders to help the men. We get evidences every day, and the wounded have every comfort, thanks to them; but we are still wanting things and especially now when our own men are enduring such hardships at the front. Pyjamas are always useful – not heavy ones, the heat is intense here – flannelette or cambric, woollen socks, handkerchiefs (white ones for hospital), washers, towels, slippers, etc. Bandages are always being used up. You see so many men were invalided home to Australia and England lately, and they all take these things with them as they are in hospital all the time on the boat. We are expecting a train load of wounded in any day now, but they are not fresh cases, as the Australians are not active just now. 26/6/15 – I did not finish this as we have been deep in grief. One of the best of the 14 of we Victorians who came on the Kyarra a month ago, died yesterday morning at 1 a.m. She was only ill six days. She got a septic germ in one of the surgical wards just through a scratch on her hand. It travelled up her arm and she died of pyaemia and was buried in seven days from when she went to bed, suffering torture all the time. She was as brave as any fighting soldier, and said when she was dying, “How hard it is to die with so little accomplished, but I would go through it again to help, and it is all in the game.” We buried her with full military honors. She is the first Australian sister to pass away in Egypt. The whole palace mourned yesterday. Her name was Sister L. Bicknell, of Bairnsdale. She owned a private hospital there. Six transport motor ambulances took the Victorian shipmate sisters to the English cemetery in Cairo. Preceding us was the ambulance containing an armed guard of about twelve soldiers. Then followed the O.C. Colonel Maudsley, Major Webb, Matron Bell, and our ship matron, Miss Cornwell. We have no gun carriages over here. Six of our Army Medical Corps acted as pall bearers. The coffin was enveloped in the old Union Jack. The band marched in front of us for about 100 yards to the grave, playing the Dead March. We all marched slowly to its strain, and then stood in double file on one side. The armed guard stood with rifles poised, and, after three volleys in the air over the grave, then fixed bayonets and the bugle sounded “the last post.” We laid three big wreaths on her grave. The band played “Abide With Me,” and we took a last farewell of one of the brightest, healthiest, and most unselfish nurses I have ever known. When the chaplain was reading the beautiful burial service and said, “In the midst of life we are in death,” I felt how little we dreamed one of our number would pass out so soon. She had just done three week’s work. She is buried amongst our fallen Australian boys, and an open grave was waiting next hers for the remains of one of our wounded men to be interred that day. The work goes on just the same to-day. We have no time for regrets here, but some of these sad scenes we can never blot out of memory. To-day there is a rumour about that this palace is to be turned into a convalescent hospital. If that is so, the 1st Australian General Hospital must move on, and we hear it will be the south of Italy. We will be handy to the Dardanelles there. Of course this is not verified yet, but we are on pins and needles wondering if we will be moved. Yesterday two of our sisters were sent to Australia on transport duty with only an hour’s notice. I would have sent this letter with them only I had not time to finish it. We have lots of typhoid and pneumonia and acute rheumatism here. The rheumatism is the curse of the trenches at the front. Most of the men who got it were sappers. The horses in the horse lines just near here are put on war rations today. That is a sign that they will be needed very soon. The Light Horse have not been wanted at the Dardanelles as much as the infantry, so the horses are being nursed and exercised here – or a few miles out. Captain Fletcher, of St Arnaud, and Captains Kendall and Patterson are about five miles out, and all seem to be enjoying life in spite of sick horses. Sometimes I smile, even when things are very serious. A poor chap had been up to the theatre for bullet extraction; he was very wretched and sick, and his face was a picture of misery. He had his head on a pillow on which was written in red cotton, “There is sweet rest in heaven.” I could hardly attend to him, I felt so convulsed. Now I think I must conclude. You will have heard all about the famous sights, etc., from others. I went to church on Sunday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dinner is always at 8 or 8.30 p.m. Church goes in after afternoon tea, which is at 5.30 p.m. Things are all reversed in the East, aren’t they, but with the men I say, “Give me back sunny Australia, my native land.” The Herald (Melb, Vic), Sat 15 Apr 1916 (p.1): Patriotic Family Face Great Britain’s Foes [Photos] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/242321696 Donald Times (Vic), Fri 21 Apr 1916 (p.2): This Is Patriotism THE PILKINGTON FAMILY The Neyland family of Birchip have recently been congratulated on their patriotism – for seven sons are on active service – by His Majesty the King. Now, we have the case of the Pilkingtons of Williamstown, who have six sons, a daughter, and son-in-law at the front. Farrier Sergeant Major R. Pilkington served with General Botha in the German South West African campaign, and, after having obtained his discharge at the conclusion of hostilities there, he went to England, and enlisted and is now in France. Farrier Sergeant J.L. Pilkington is at present in hospital in Cairo, but was at Gallipoli from the landing until the evacuation. Trooper D. Pilkington is with the New Zealanders and was wounded at Gallipoli. He is at present in hospital in Manchester with 10 wounds. Trooper A.C. Pilkington is attached to the Australian Light Horse. Sister M. Pilkington, formerly matron of the St Arnaud Hospital, is nursing at the Palace Hospital, Heliopolis. Sapper N.P. Pilkington served for 12 months under General Botha in the Boer rebellion in South Africa and German South West Africa. Trooper J. Pilkington joined the Light Horse, but was discharged owing to ill health. Mrs Pilkington’s daughter’s husband, Sergeant K.J. Davis, is with the Australian troops in Egypt. Messrs R., J.L., and J. Pilkington, served in the South African war, and obtained non-commissioned rank, the latter being mentioned in despatches. Mrs Pilkington is a Victorian native, and is a daughter of the late Mr F. Rae, one of the earliest pioneers of the Western district. Cobden Times and Heytesbury Advertiser (Vic), Wed 28 Jun 1916 (p.2): Letter from Sister Pilkington Miss Rae, of St Arnaud, is in receipt of an interesting communication from her cousin, Sister Pilkington (matron of the St Arnaud Hospital), who, soon after the outbreak of war, placed her services at the disposal of the Defence Department as a nurse. The letter reads as follows: – No. 12 General Hospital, The Racecourse, France, 14/4/16 You will see by the above I am in France. I have only been here two days and am temporarily attached to the No. 12 British General Hospital till our No. 1 Australian Hospital gets established. After the No. 2 Auxiliary Hospital closed I went twenty-two miles out to Helouan to the convalescent depot for eleven days. It was really a rest, as we had very few patients and they were closing. While there, I was told to get ready to come away with the No. 1 Australian General Hospital. We went by special train to Alexandria on March 29, and then on the hospital ship. Next day, March 30, we sailed. There was an Imperial staff on board. We slept in the empty wards – forty beds, all little cots with sides. It looked like a huge nursery to see forty women struggling into clothes there in the mornings in limited space. We had to carry our life belts about with us even to meals, and put them under our pillow at night. If we tried to get down or up the stairs without them, a sentry stopped us and made us go back and get them. We had boat drill twice and everyone was allotted their boat and space in case of a submarine getting us. As it was, we got an “S.O.S.” (wireless for help) one night near the coast of Italy, so we had to stop and go back and look for wreckage and seven boatloads of men survivors. We got a message afterwards that all were saved. A torpedo had got a returning empty boat of some sort. It had seen us and our red cross and had let us go. The skipper told us there was trouble because he saw a French torpedo destroyer dodging round, looking after us. So you see it was an exciting if short trip. We saw Corsica and Sardinia in the distance, also Italy and Malta. I was very sick, as usual, but only for two days this time. While on board we had our cameras confiscated. In the dock before we left Alexandria we were warned we were not to take any photos. No cameras are allowed in France. The journey was very cold. We reached Marseilles on April 5, just six days’ trip. It was a glorious morning, the sun shining and showing up the immense cliffs and the picturesque old forts, the world-renowned Notre Dame standing on the top of a very high cliff with its golden Virgin glittering in the sun. It overlooks the harbor and is supposed to protect the sailors and guide them safely home again. The sailors go up there to pray for a safe return before setting out on a journey. We stayed out in the harbor all that day. Next day we came alongside but were not allowed to leave the ship. The following day we were taken off our transport to the Regina Hotel, a six-storeyed place with 250 rooms and 100 bathrooms, everything in white marble and red carpets, and magnificent. We stayed there two days and had to defray our own expenses – eleven francs a day, and an extra franc for our bathroom. Sister …. and I shared a double room and had a bathroom opening off it, and a balcony to ourselves. We had a radiator to heat the room, hot and cold water, electric clock, &c. All the bed linen was made of old bleach and we had red satin eiderdowns to match the carpets. There were electric reading lamps and lounge chairs. Everything was gorgeous. We went up the Funicula railway to the beautiful old Notre Dame Cathedral. When we reached the top we still had two flights of stone steps before we could get to the foot of the Cathedral. We could see all over Marseilles but as it was raining the view was blurred. It rained the whole two days. Oh dear! the city was depressed. Nearly all the women wore crepe and crepe streamers, and no one smiled. The poorer class women were working in the street as scavengers. They wore shoulder crapes or shawls, no hats. All the men anyway fit wear uniforms – bright red breeches, light blue coats, white belts and blue caps. They wear their national colors in their uniforms. I saw lots of wounded men limping about. The No. 2 General Hospital are camped six miles out and are staying there. We all sat outside the Regina for a photo, for one of the French papers. Perhaps we shall see it some day. On the Monday at 11 a.m. we left by special train for …. We had quite the longest train I have ever seen, and we had an engine at both ends. We were about four hundred all told. We were only four in a carriage, which was beautifully padded out in mole cloth. The carriage was heated by radiation and was most comfortable. We got our meals at the buffet, the train stopping at various places to order. We had to pay dearly for everything – 3s 6d for a meal, 2d each for apples, &c. Things were expensive, but we had a good time nevertheless. We were two nights and three days in the train, and the weather got colder as we went further north. If you get the map of France you can trace our journey. Our first stop was Avignon. At Dijon on the second day we had two hours, so we went up the town and saw an old cathedral, very musty but beautiful. The confession boxes were nearly worn out. We saw a train load of wounded French soldiers. They looked worn and haggard, and appeared to be standing and very crowded. The Paris Express passed us at Avignon. It is beautifully fitted up, and travels about sixty to seventy miles an hour. All along the route the scenery was beautiful, fields and meadows of deep green grass, orchards with fruit trees all in bloom, and whole acres of yellow buttercups mixed with big wide-eyed daisies. Then imagine acres of lovely real yellow cowslips growing wild, the kind we cultivate so carefully in our gardens at home. I thought my eyes must have deceived me when I saw pink kiss-me-quick, wild hyacinths, tiny little irises about as big as pansies, and scarlet poppies. It was a feast for desert brown dusty eyes. Still, I cried a little at leaving Egypt. The East seems to get hold of one even now. I’ve longed for it again, so soon too. When we saw horses in a plough, and calves and sheep, we nearly screamed with delight. It was like a bit of real home before us. But there is little cultivation, only what the old men and mere boys are doing. Everywhere women were working in the fields in the same way that girls are conductors in the trams in Marseilles. There were meadows, knee deep with luscious looking grass and clover, but none or few cattle to eat it. The hedges were white with hawthorn, and May in profusion. Then there were the rivers and forts and old churches, and the valley of the Rhone, and the Rhone itself in all its beauty. We saw the sunset just there, and it was gorgeous, even more beautiful than the sunset on the Nile, if that is possible. At intervals all along the line an armed French soldier stood to attention while we dashed past. Every place is guarded. In this very place the people all fled and left their houses and shops the time the German got so near Paris. They were only seven miles from here. It is out of bounds for military; in fact we are warned that we are not to go beyond the town. Certainly to get into a train would hold us liable to a court martial. The winter is nearly over here, though it has rained continuously since we landed. It is quite a laughable sight to see the Sisters going about in macintoshes and oilskins, and Souwester hats, gum boots, gaiters, &c, or else those shiny leather hats. I got into all the warm clothing that I found such a curse to me carrying it about in my trunks in hot Egypt. Now I am thankful for it. Of course we Australians are only lent to the Imperials here till our hospital is opened. The tent is all up ready. All the racecourse is full of the different British General Hospitals, all beautiful mapped out in rows. Huts, tents, and shacks are very comfortable. Under the grandstand is the officers’ mess. In a later communication, Sister Pilkington said that her address is – 1st Australian General Hospital, France. – St Arnaud Mercury. Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 13 Jul 1916 (p.7): Prattle About People The sight of a hospital nurse having a real ceremonial bath in a hand basin is an every-day spectacle at the First Australian General Hospital in France, according to Sister Pilkington, who was formerly one of the ministering angels at the St Arnaud Hospital. It is not water that is so scarce as the utensils. In a letter just to hand Sister Pilkington says: – “We always get the wounded in the small hours of the morning, and they have generally been in the train seventeen or eighteen hours. They come from Armentieres and near Ypres. We have the task of digging off the trench-dirt and train-dust. Poor old Tommies! All worn out – some poisoned by gas, and others burnt by bombs. Everywhere here the most rigid economy is practised – such a change after the lavishness of Egypt!” Sister Pilkington’s bath experience doesn’t quite equal that of Nurse Hardy, a former Toorak damsel, who, in a recent letter from Egypt, said she had bathed luxuriously with a jam-tin full of soup water. St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Wed 13 Sept 1916 (p.2): LETTER FROM SISTER JACKSON Sister Jackson, formerly acting matron of the St Arnaud Hospital, writing from France to friends in St Arnaud, says:- ………………………………………………. Of course you have heard that Hal Young has been wounded again. He has had his share. He is expecting to be back again in about a fortnight. If he is sent to the base I shall see him again, as it is only about three miles away, but if he goes back to his company they will be down east of where Sister Pilkington is. ………………………………………………… I am hoping to get leave at the end of September, and I hope Sister Pilkington and I can manage to go at the same time. ………………………………………… St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Sat 8 Dec 1917 (p.4): LETTERS FROM THE FRONT – SISTER JACKSON Sister A.C. Jackson, recently of 61 Casualty Clearing Station, but now at 11 Stationary Hospital, Rouen, France, in a letter, dated 30th Sept says: – …………………………………………………………………………………………………… Sister Pilkington is in England at present. I saw her several times before she went. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/88054367 St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Wed 29 May 1918 (p.2): WELCOME RECEPTION AT ST ARNAUD HOSPITAL MATRON PILKINGTON It was briefly mentioned in our last issue that Sister Pilkington (matron of the St Arnaud Hospital), who has given valuable service at the front in connection with the present war, and who was invalided home some time since, had decided to make a weekend visit to St Arnaud. During Sister Pilkington’s brief stay in the town (she is now on duty at the Base Hospital in Melbourne) she was accorded a welcome reception on Sunday afternoon last at the St Arnaud Hospital, where she was the guest of the committee, subscribers and staff. A number of Sister Pilkington’s lady friends were also present, and an hour or so passed very pleasantly. Mr J. Worsdell (president of the hospital), in extending a hearty welcome to Matron Pilkington, stated he had invited those present to meet that lady at the hospital. It was about three years since their guest had offered her services for the war, and she had taken a worthy part in attending to the wounded and sick soldiers. Sister Pilkington’s work was greatly appreciated. Her numerous friends were sorry that her health had given way, but they were delighted to know that she was now convalescent. It was understood that Sister Pilkington had again given in her name for service at the front, and it was the wish of all that she would be given health and strength to continue her splendid work. (Applause) the president called upon several gentlemen to support his remarks. ………………………………………………………………………….. Mr Osborne mentioned that Mrs C. Gardner had kindly donated an Honor Board to the hospital, and it was proposed to have the names inscribed of all nurses who had gone from the St Arnaud Hospital to the front. Sister Pilkington’s name would be in a prominent position on the Honor Board. ……… http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/91350967 St Arnaud Mercury (Vic), Wed 12 Jun 1918 (p.4): ST ARNAUD HOSPITAL The monthly meeting of the committee of management of the above……. GENERAL The secretary stated that Matron Pilkington had intimated to the treasurer and himself that she desired the committee to accept her resignation, as, owing to various causes, she had no intention of resuming the position at the end of the war. – The resignation was accepted with regret, ………. Bendigonian (Vic), Thur 13 Jun 1918 (p.8): PERSONAL Sister Pilkington, who is now in Army Medical Corps, has resigned her position as matron at the St Arnaud Hospital, and Miss Daley has been appointed to the position. Nurse Pilkington was recently invalided home, and is at present on duty in one of the Melbourne military hospitals. She was formerly of the Bendigo Hospital. The Ballarat Star (Vic), Sat 17 Apr 1920 (p.10): ST ARNAUD PRESENTATIONS Miss Pilkington, formerly of Bendigo, but latterly matron of the St Arnaud Hospital, and of the nursing staff of the A.I.F., was entertained at the Mechanics’ Hall last night. On behalf of the Borough of St Arnaud, the mayor (Cr Grigg) presented Miss Pilkington with a suitable framed certificate as a mark of the citizens’ appreciation of her war service. On behalf of her Presbyterian friends, the Rev. A.E. Macdonald made Miss Pilkington the recipient of a gold band ring, inset with the colors of the battalion with which she served abroad. Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 23 Dec 1920 (p.9): Weddings Lieut-Colonel B.O.C. Duggan to Sister Annie C. Jackson ………………………………….. The bride, …………………………… was attended by Sister M. Pilkington and Sister M. Duggan (both late A.A.N.S.), ……………………………………………. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/146462111 The Argus (Melb, Vic), Sat 20 Sept 1924 (p.17): MARRIAGES LORIMER – PILKINGTON – On the 5th August, at Scots Church, Melbourne, by Rev. Cadwallader Jones, George, son of the late Andrew Lorimer and Mrs Lorimer, of Glencairn, Mathoura road, Toorak, to Mabel, daughter of the late Robert and Mrs Pilkington, of Alvers, Rathmines street, Fairfield. (Present address, La Maisonette, Farmers’ Hotel, St Arnaud). The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 25 Apr 1933 (p.20): The Woman’s World Nurses Who Served Under The Red Cross ………..and Mrs Lorimer (Miss Pilkington) who hitherto had not missed an Anzac march since the inception were not able to take part today. ………………………………………… The Herald (Melb, Vic), Tue 25 Apr 1939 (p.9): Many nurses go to annual “do you remember” night For the Army nurses, just as for the soldiers themselves, the war was not all tragedy, and last night at their annual reunion at Anzac House many of them preferred, for the moment, to remember, as they chatted, the humor of those days. One of those who recalled some of the lighter incidents was Mrs G. Lorimer, of St Arnaud, who during the war was Sister M. Pilkington, and who saw service in Egypt, France, and India. One of her funniest memories is of the 1st Australian General Hospital in Rouen. Going into the ward to begin duties one morning she found a young lad, badly wounded, with his head resting on a pillow, on which was embroidered in red cotton, “There is sweet rest in heaven!” In spite of the enticement, he recovered sufficiently to convalesce in England! And her description of a sister, “all dressed up in 1914 with a war to go to,” well, here it is – “Black lace-up boots over black cotton stockings; grey bonnets tied under the chin and adorned at the back with long pleated grey satin panels reaching to the waist; grey coats just clearing the ground, complete with shoulder capes, just short enough to reveal grey cotton gloves. Even in those days when glamor was unheard of by the average woman,” mused Mrs Lorimer, “we felt that these uniforms definitely took away from our market value!” https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/243349970 The Age (Melb, Vic), 21 Aug 1956 (p.12): DEATHS LORIMER – On August 20, Mabel, beloved wife of George, 18 Devon Street, Box Hill, and late of St Arnaud, loved sister of Lilian and sister-in-law of Jim. FUNERAL NOTICES LORIMER – The Funeral of the late Mrs MABEL LORIMER will leave Le Pine’s funeral chapel, 6 Rutland Road, Box Hill, TOMORROW, after a service, commencing at 11 a.m., for the Box Hill Cemetery.