Remembrance Day

On Remembrance Day, the CALHN Health Museum in partnership with Spiritual Care Services and the RAH Volunteer Unit, honoured and remembered staff members of our hospitals that have served in the Australian Defence Force.

At the Royal Adelaide Hospital there were displays of historical objects and stories, along with handmade poppies for sale. All money raised from the sale of these poppies went towards Legacy and the support they provide to veterans and their families.

Huge thanks to everyone that supported this endeavour, including those that bought a poppy, made poppies and manned the display booth.

Below are a selection of stories from those associated with the Royal Adelaide Hospital. These are just some of the many that were on display on Remembrance Day.

‘Alice’ Blanche Atkinson

Blanche, born in Crafers in 1879, trained as a nurse at the Adelaide Hospital from 1907-1910. She then worked in private hospitals in Alberton and Western Australia.

During World War 1, she travelled to England and joined the nursing branch of the British Army known as ‘Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service’. Blanche was posted to the Brockenhurst Military Hospital until March 1916 when she was admitted to hospital with Tuberculosis. While unwell she received the Royal Red Cross medal for devoted service, receiving well wishes from the King and Queen. She was discharged from service as medically unfit, and in August 1916 was well enough to return to Australia.

Blanche returned home to Crafers, but a few months later, on 9 December 1916, died from her illness. She was 37 years old.

Ellen Mavis Allgrove (nee Hannah)

Mavis started nursing training at the Adelaide Hospital in 1936, originally in the Blood Transfusion Unit.

She enlisted in the Australian Army Service in WW2 and was posted to the 2/4th Australian Casualty Clearing Station in Malaya and later to Singapore. When Singapore was invaded by the Japanese in 1942, Mavis was evacuated on the SS Vyner Brooke. The ship was repeatedly bombed and strafed by the Japanese, sinking in the Bangka Strait, Indonesia. Mavis survived the attack and made it to land, only to be taken POW by the Japanese. Mavis and a small group of other survivors endured starvation, deprivation, torture, and some died. She was released in 1946.

Mavis passed away aged 83 years, in 1994.

Charles Graham Wilson

Graduating from Adelaide Uni in 1947, Dr Wilson was a Registered Medical Officer at the Royal Adelaide Hospital before enlisting in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, and posted to Japan from 1948 to 1949.

Service completed, he gained his post-graduate qualifications overseas, returning to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1954. He became Honorary Assistant Surgeon in 1959 and in 1980 he was appointed Senior Visiting Surgeon, Department of General Surgery and Head of Unit.

During the Vietnam War, Dr Wilson was appointed the leader of the South Australian Civilian Surgical Team in Bien Hoa, for three months in 1967, and posted again to the 1st Australian Hospital at Vung Tau, South Vietnam.