Anzac Nurses pt 2 Alice Ross-King

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While out at my brother’s house/dog sitting I watched ANZAC Girls, great show really liked it. It told the real life stories of 5 nurses during World War 1 they were both Australian and New Zealand nurses and this inspired me to do a little research about them and share a bit about them with the rest of you. The nurses were Olive Haynes, Alice Ross-King, Grace Wilson, Elsie Cook and Hilda Steele.

Today we are talking about Alice Ross-King she was born in Ballarat in Victoria her parents named her Alys Ross King, the family moved to Perth but after her father and two brothers drowned in an accident her mother and Alys moved to Melbourne.

She was born on the 5th August 1887,she was an Australian civilian and military nurse who served in both World Wars, she was described as Australia’s most decorated woman

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Alice undertook her nursing training at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and by 1914 she was a qualified theatre sister.

Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War she enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) this was when she changed her name from Ross King to Ross-King adding the hyphen to distinguish her from another ANNS nurse named Alice King. She also decided to stay spelling her first name as Alice instead of Alys.

In November 1914 she was posted overseas to the 1st Australian General Hospital (1st AGH) in Egypt, the 1st AGH was based at Heliopolis near Cairo after service there she was posted to an outstation at Suez which was established as a clearing station for casualties from the Gallipoli Campaign.

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In 1915 she was returned to Australia as a nurse to wounded troops returning home, but in 1916 she returned to the 1st AGH and was part of the unit when the 1st AGH was moved to France in April 1916 where she nursed wounded soldiers from the Somme Campaign during 1916 and into 1917.

It was in 1917 that she was posted to the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station (2nd CCS) arriving on the 17th July, 5 days latter the hospital was bombed on the night of the 22nd July. Four men were killed in the bombing and 15 others injured, she was just finishing a shift and was returning to the wards to continue to care for the patients in the ward despite the fact that the canvas tents had collapsed on top of her and the casualties.

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Her actions during the bombing and the immediate aftermath resulted in her being awarded the Military Medal making her one of only seven nurses to received the Military Medal during the war. Of the other six to receive this medal three of them were her colleagues at the 2nd CCS, there were Sisters Dorothy Cawood and Clare Deacon and Staff Nurse Mary Derrer. All four awards were published in the London Gazette on the 25th September 1917 and presentation of the medal was made by General William Birdwood, General Officer Commanding ANZAC Corps.

Alice returned to the 1st AGH in November 1917 and remained with the hospital until the end of the war, in May 1918 she was made an Associate of the Royal Red Cross had was mentioned in despatches the first 1st AGH moved to England in January 1919 then returned to Australia the same month in September 1919 she was discharged from the AANS.

During the war Alice met and became engaged to Harry Moffitt and officer in the 53rd battalion AIF but he was killed during the battle of Fromelles in July 1916. During the voyage home to Australia in 1919 Alice met Dr Sydney Appleford and they married in August 1919 they had four children.

Between the wars Alice Appleford became involved in the training of Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) personal in Victoria, when the Second World War broke out Alice enlisted into the VAD and in 1942 when the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service (AAMWS) was formed she was commissioned with the rang of major and appointed senior assistant controller for Victoria responsible for all AAMWS in the state of Victoria.

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She continued to serve in the AAMWS until 1951, during her service she was nominated for the Florence Nightingale Medal and was one of two Australian nurses to receive the medal in 1949. The citation for the medal concluded:

No one who came into contact with Major Appleford could fail to recognise her as a leader of women. Her sense of duty, her sterling solidarity of character, her humanity, sincerity, and kindliness of heart set for others a very high example.

After Dr Appleford died in 1958 Alice spent her final years in Cronulla before her death on the 17 August 1968.

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