Apr 24, 2015

Lest We Forget: The Women of Gallipoli


I make no apology for writing a similarly themed post to last year.



It is 100 years since Gallipoli and we have mourned and celebrated the lives of the men who bravely fought there- and we should go on doing this in gratitude for their service for as long as we all can. Because of their sacrifice we can live our lives in relative peace and without fear.

What I did not know, however, was that there were 8 women at Gallipoli too. Seven Australian nurses and their matron were on board the hospital ship The Gascon moored off Anzac Cove. From the ship's deck these women had to witness the massacre, listen to the cries of the fallen and dodge shells fired at the boat. They then had to tend to the wounded, deal with serious overcrowding on the ship and cope with rapidly diminishing resources. There is a detailed account of one of those nurses here. Muriel Wakeford wrote letters to her local newspaper back home describing the Gallipoli campaign and telling of the need for more medical personnel, braving a backlash from the government who had been sending out propaganda that we were winning the war. Having worked as a nurse for many years I cannot begin to imagine what life must have been like there, the horror and the suffering and the utter helplessness and frustration at not being able to give the care needed.

But this is also a romance blog and we celebrate the triumph of love over all, and I'm happy to say that Muriel led a life befitting one of our heroines- dealing with conflict and disapproval from all and amidst the chaos of war she fell in love with a dashing officer on board ship (which was obviously forbidden, plus he was catholic and she was protestant), but she finally overcame all barriers and married her sweetheart in 1916. They moved to Kenya and then to London after the war and had (at least) one son.

So, on ANZAC Day, while remembering the men who gave up their lives, please add in a huge prayer of gratitude to the 8 amazing women who cared for the sick and tended to the fallen with as much respect and honour as they could. And send up a little extra cheer for Muriel Wakeford, a true heroine of the time.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them


21 comments:

  1. Louisa, what a terrific post. I didn't know about this. Thanks for sharing, especially the glimpse into Muriel Wakeford. I'm so glad she had her (forbidden) romance and made a family with the man she loved. They must have been remarkable women.

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    1. I know, Annie- what remarkable women and we owe them a huge debt of thanks. I'd like to think I'd have been as brave as them, but I'm not sure I could be.

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  2. Lovely post, Louisa. I had no idea that there were any women at Gallipoli, but Muriel and her fellow nurses sound like true heroines. And, like Annie, I'm delighted she got a happy ever after with her dashing officer.

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    1. I only discovered Muriel yesterday as I wondered what to write for this blog - I'm so happy, too, that love conquered all!

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  3. Thanks for my early morning tear duct wash out, Louisa :-) So many nurses serviced the casualties of Gallipoli both on that boat and on nearby Lemnos Island. As a nurse, it makes me very proud.

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    1. Me too, AA. And sorry about the tear ducts xx

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  4. Love this post, Louisa. Tomorrow at ANZAC Servive I will be remembering all who sacrificed for us including these heroines (I believe all nurses are heroines for looking after the ill and injured.) And I'll be thinking of Muriel and her bravery and her HEA. Thanks for sharing that story.

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    1. Thanks, Bron. I was surprised to hear about the nurses at Gallipoli, but of course, they must have been there. What an ordeal they must have endured. I too will be sending up a collective thank you xx

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  5. Louisa

    That as such a lovely post and to learn about Muriel and I will remember her and the many other woman who did so much for all of us and I am sure there were many romances along the way

    have Fun
    Helen

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  6. Oh, Louisa what a beautiful post! So glad I know about Muriel now and so very, very pleased she got a happily ever after. So many sad stories on ANZAC dat so thank you so much for giving us something so lovely.

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    1. Lyn, I'm so sorry to hear you have a sore ankle. Standing in the cold for hours definitely wouldn't do you any favours. Maybe next year- but whether you attend or not, you can still think of them and thank them- as I'm sure you did.I, too, couldn't imagine how terrible it would have been to have to watch the terrifying campaign unfold.

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  7. I had intended to go to the local ANZAC Dawn service tomorrow for the first time in many years, but currently I'm having problems with chronic pain in my right ankle so that won't be happening.

    I too didn't know that there were any women at Gallipoli. How dreadful it must have been witnessing the events from the ship.

    No need to apologise for posting a similar post to last year, I think ANZAC Day is one of the days that similar posts occur each year.

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    1. Lyn, I'm so sorry to hear you have a sore ankle. Standing in the cold for hours definitely wouldn't do you any favours. Maybe next year- but whether you attend or not, you can still think of them and thank them- as I'm sure you did. I, too, couldn't imagine having to watch those terrible events unfold. Brave women indeed.

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  8. Thank you, Louisa, for sharing this story of courage and commitment of these remarkable with us. It's important to keep the ANZAC spirit alive for the world.

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    1. We have to remember them, Deb and give thanks for their courage and sacrifice.

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  9. Lovely post, Louisa. Certainly brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing account.

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    1. Thanks, Jen, they were amazing people.

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  10. Thank you for a lovely post, Louisa.

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    1. Thanks, Claire - it's important for us to give thanks to these amazing, selfless men and women who fought so hard for us.

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  11. Hi, lovely to meet you guys! I am a fiction editor and
    romance writer living in Bali and would love to connect with like-minded souls (www.catehogan.com). Hope you're having a great day!

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