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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dandenong Contingent of 1915

Nurses were often the unsung heroes of the Gallipoli campaign. Behind the front lines they patched up wounded soldiers and comforted men who were destined to die of their wounds and never to return to loved ones in Australia. More than 3000 Australian civilian nurses volunteered for active service during World War I. One was Milicent Miller.

In July 1915 the Journal reported on a letter Miss Miller sent to friends in Dandenong from the Australian military hospital at Heliopolis, Cairo. The grand Heliopolis Palace Hotel, built in 1910, was used to treat evacuated soliders. Famous pictures of it show a sea of hospital tents erected in the grounds of the hotel.

According to Miss Miller, the hospital had space for 1000 beds which made it a huge medical facility for its time. “Our brave Australian lads are conveyed to hospital after having acquitted themselves in such a glorious manner at Gallipoli in upholding the prestige of the British Empire,“ stated the Journal.

“Fighting against the best soldiers in the world and beating them too.
“Their deeds of heroism and dash in attack must make Australians feel proud of their countrymen in arms at war."

From Nurse Miller’s letter an idea can be formed of the magnitude of the task so cheerfully carried out by the surgeons, nurses, stretcher bearers and all engaged in attending to the wounded men who have been in the firing line. “It is good to read also of the brave manner in which the Australian soldier conducts himself when sticken with his battle wounds.“

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