Author(s): Susanna de Vries
Australian Heroines of World War One is the story of eight courageous women through diaries, letters, original photos, paintings and maps. These eight women had the courage and strength for which the Anzacs are renowned and the compassion and tenderness that only a woman can bring. One brave nursing sister Hilda Samsing became a whistleblower. Nursing aboard the hospital ship Gascon, outraged by the bungled evacuation of wounded Anzacs which was censored out of the press she let her diary be shown in high places which raised questions in the House of Commons. In Belgium, Louise Creed, a Sydney journalist caught in the besieged city of Antwerp made a hair-raising escape from a German firing squad and lived to tell the tale. Brisbane's Grace Wilson, ordered to establish an emergency hospital on drought ridden Lemnos Island, arrived there to find suffering Anzacs but no drinking water, tents or medical supplies. Grace and her nurses tore up their petticoats to use as bandages, survived for weeks on bully beef and biscuits and saved the lives of thousands wounded at Lone Pine and the Nek. In November 1915 after a blizzard hit the trenches of Gallipoli they cared for Anzacs with frostbitten or gangrenous feet. After surviving hardship on Lemnos, young Florence James-Wallace works in France near the front line in a Casualty Clearing, treating soldiers with hideous wounds or blinded by mustard gas. The Germans emerged from their trenches and advanced as Florence and her stretcher cases escaped by lorry. In 1918 after years spent nursing men smashed and pulverised by machine gun fire she faced yet another challenge - an epidemic of Spanish flu. They returned to a world that only recognised male courage and were quickly forgotten, two of them awarded such meagre pensions they died destitute and forgotten. "This book will become compulsory reading for every Australian." Dame Elizabeth Murdoch, convinced of the significance of these stories graciously assisted the funding of this book.