WWI nurse’s unmarked grave given official memorial

A registered nurse, who was the first Australian to be awarded a Royal Red Cross (RRC 1st class) plus the bar for bravery during World War I, will have an official memorial dedicated next to her unmarked grave tomorrow.

In the official ceremony at Woronora Memorial Park, Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) General Secretary, Brett Holmes; St Vincent’s Hospital CEO, Anthony Schembri; and Head of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corp, Colonel Bronwyn Wheeler, will tell of Alice Cashin’s remarkable story. Jennifer Furness, will also address guests as one of Alice’s descendants who discovered her unmarked grave.

Alice Cashin, who trained at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR) during the war, serving in Egypt and later aboard the hospital ship, HMHS Gloucester Castle, when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1917 during the middle of the night.

As Matron of the ship at the time, Alice put her patients and nursing sisters first, making sure all 400 wounded were safe on lifeboats before climbing aboard the final one herself. Once picked up by a rescue vessel, Alice continued her work caring for the injured with the limited tools she had, administering pain relief and dressing wounds.

From May 1917 to July 1919, Alice was in charge of the 400-bed military hospital at Whittingham Barracks, Lichfield, where she was much loved by her patients. She sailed home to Australia to see her father, who was in ailing health, on 18 October 1919.

On her return to Australia, Alice, who was a member of the Marrickville ANZAC Memorial Club, was crowned the Queen of Marrickville. She died on 4 November 1939 from chronic nephritis.

The Honourable David Elliott, NSW Minister for Veterans Affairs representing the NSW Premier The Honourable Michael Baird will give the official address and dedication.

WHEN: 11am TUESDAY, 11 October 2016
WHERE: Woronora Memorial Park, 121 Linden Street, Sutherland

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