Well here we are at History Tuesday and today I am asking if anyone has heard of Maud Butler, I expect most of you have not, I also had not heard of her till I was watching Tony Robinson’s Tour of Duty have to say that show has given me a lot of ideas for history posts.
Anyway let’s move on to Maud she was a 16 year old girl from Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley, in New South Wales, Australia.
During the First World War Maud wanted to serve and go and fight the war so she cut her hair dressed as a soldier and stowed away on a troopship however her boots gave her away and she was returned to Melbourne and had to go in front of a magistrate.
Maud was a 16 year old waitress with a sense of adventure she had attempted to register with the Red Cross as a nurse but was turned away so she decided to try something else as she wanted to go and join her brother in Egypt.
So on the 23rd of December 1915 dressed as a soldier she climbed aboard a troopship waiting at the Woolloomooloo docks, she hid in a lifeboat.
She is described as a clear-skinned rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed type of country girl who really wanted to help in some way like her brother was. She managed to get hold of an Australian Imperial Force uniform in bits and pieces and had her photo taken in it. The day before she stowed away she went to Woolloomooloo Bay to see a transport there and met an office telling him she had friends on the ship. While talking to him she made up her mind to see him again as a soldier and went straight to a barber and had her hair cut short. The next evening she climbed aboard the Suevic, she said she didn’t realise ships were so tall and it was a struggle to climb up the rope but she managed it and hid in a lifeboat.
It seems this was not an incident that Maud wanted to share with her children and grandchildren and after another failed attempt to go to war as a soldier she settled down and lived for many years in Campsie, Sydney where she ran a private hospital until she retired, she died in 1987 at the age of 88.
Miss Maud Butler on the deck in AIF uniform, who tried to embark on the troop transport ship Star of England, and also on the ship Suevic. Maud had stowed away on the Suevic which sailed from Sydney on 23 December 1915, hoping to get to Egypt where her brother was serving. She arrived in Melbourne on 25 December 1915