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Memorial unveiling for WW1 Australian Army Nursing Service


June 2017

On the Pathway of Honour, directly behind South Australia’s Government House, about 80 people gathered, on Sunday 30th of April at 2pm to unveil the first commemorative memorial to the World War One Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS), registered and volunteer female nurses.

His Excellency, the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia addressed a number of interested community leaders, OEEGA members and other guests, reminding us of the trauma of war, from his own experience and the joy of being an Australian. He also spoke about the AANS then went on to unveil the Australian Army Nurses Memorial with Helen Haltis, President of OEEGA South Australia.

The Reverend Dr Margaret Annells, delivered a moving dedication of this memorial with an insight into the lives of war nurses. She spoke of the hardships and perseverance of these heroic women and we prayed with her for their eternal peace and memory.

Retired Squadron Leader and nurse Jennifer Dowling replied on behalf of all nurses, giving a brief history of the AANS and recalling the atrocious conditions in which they had been expected to work and save lives.

Sixteen wreaths were laid by dignitaries, OEEGA members and friends. Mrs Annabel Digance MP, Member for Elder represented the Premier and The Honourable Terry Stephens MLC, represented the Leader of the Opposition.

Master of Ceremonies, OEEGA Secretary Petula Columbus closed the proceedings with the quote that became the catalyst for the Greek Australian relationship created at ANZAC Cove by the extraordinary and now legendary Australian nurses who served on the Greek Island of Lemnos between 9 August 1915 and January 1916 and saved 97% of the Gallipoli war casualties.

Australia’s Bronze Com-memorative Plaque 134 – on the Greek Island of Lemnos reads : "Australia and Lemnos are linked forever by the events of WW1 (1914-1918)"

After the unveiling His Excellency, the Governor and Mrs Le invited all to join them for afternoon tea and refreshments at historic Government House. Mrs Helen Haltis thanked His Excellency and Mrs Le for their hospitality and their continued support of OEEGA.

Legacy was remembered with a donation from OEEGA on the day.

We all agreed it was a remarkable day of remem-brance and celebration of brave Australian women who crossed the world to save lives in WW1 and left us with the foundation of today’s modern nursing practices.

Petula Columbus


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