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No. 2 Australian General Hospital

The first matron of 2AGH was a Boer War nurse.

On 27 September 1914 Miss [Ellen Julia (Nellie)] Gould enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was appointed matron of No.2 Australian General Hospital. With six other nurses she left Australia on 20 October, disembarking at Alexandria, Egypt, on 4 December. The hospital unit arrived later and she took up her duties as matron on 21 January 1915. The staff were established at Mena House when, a few months later, casualties from Gallipoli made necessary the preparation of a second hospital at Ghezireh Palace; the two hospitals had a total of 1500 beds. In April 1916 No.2 A.G.H. was transferred to France and established at Wimereux, arriving on 30 June, the eve of the advance on the Somme.

In 1917, after a long period of arduous duty, Miss Gould was posted to England to No.1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital (Harefield). In November she was transferred to Cobham Hall, an Australian convalescent hospital. She returned to Australia in January 1919 and was discharged from the A.I.F. on 3 March. Her health was broken and she was unfit to take up nursing duties again; from 1920 she received a war service pension. Her distinguished service was recognized by the award of the Royal Red Cross (1st class) in 1916.

Ellen Gould had a great influence on the development of professional nursing in Australia; she was involved in founding the Australasian Trained Nurses’ Association and was a council member from its inception in 1899 until her retirement in 1921. She instigated the publishing of the A.T.N.A. journal in 1903 and served on the editorial committee.

She was a women of vision and energy, an excellent nurse, an able administrator and highly professional. Of good appearance, impeccable manners and gentle humour, she set and maintained standards which have left their mark on generations of Australian nurses. After her retirement she lived quietly with Julia Johnston at Miranda, Sydney. She died in hospital at Neutral Bay on 19 July 1941 and was privately cremated.

Australian Dictionary of Biography


Mena, Egypt. January 1915. No 2 Australian General Hospital, AIF, which was the first Australian hospital to be pitched in the war. AWM H12179

No. 2 General Hospital and No. 2 Stationary Hospital served the Ist Australian Division camp at Mena.

On 25 January 1915, 2AGH took over Mena House, with 35 hospital marquees for general and seven for isolation cases pitched in the vicinity.

On 24 February 1915 the unit was ordered to pack up and prepare to move, an order reversed on March 19.

In May, additional beds were set up at Ghezireh Palace Hotel while Mena House was retained as an auxiliary. The total staff at this time was 14 officers, 51 nurses and 133 others.

For photos of Mena House camp, see Irene Victoria Read papers, SLNSW.


No.2 Australian General Hospital arrived at Marseilles from Egypt on 1.4.16 with a Nursing Staff of 115. (Principal Matron E. J. Gould A.A.N.S. in charge) plus 4 fully trained masseuses not trained Nurses. They arrived by the “Braemar Castle”, and disembarked the next day, proceeding to Moussot, and taking over the Hospital there temporarily.

REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY NURSING SERVICE IN FRANCE – E. M. McCarthy, Matron-in-Chief, British Troops in France and Flanders, Headquarters, 31.7.19

At Moussot, Marseille, the unit “served as a sieve against the introduction of infectious disease from Egypt” (Butler, 417).

The war diary says ‘main body’ left on 29 June for Boulogne (Wimereux) leaving a ‘section’ to carry on the hospital until 18 August 1916.

Location of 2AGH at Marseilles

This is a beautiful country sort of place and near the sea, too. We are right in a sort of pine forest.

Sister Olive Haynes, We Are Here, Too p135

Roberta and Jeff Madsen have determined the location of the hospital using the photos and diaries of Roberta’s grandfather Percy Alfred Peachey.

Monday 3rd April saw us in at the wharf early and unloading. We got some rain during the day also and I left at 4pm with the advance party for the Hospital at Moussot -6 miles out. I went by ambulance and the road went first round the docks and through part of the town. The streets at first were narrow and busy and all paved. There was a good sprinkling of black dresses. We suddenly ran under a fine big arch and the road suddenly widened out to a fine Boulevarde with the trees bursting into leaf. It was one of the finest sights I have ever seen. This avenue ran for about two miles and had a big fountain half way along its length. This is about 45 feet in diameter and has a high column above the figures forming the base. It is white and shows over the treetops for quite a long way. We saw off this avenue and along the waterside for a while and then took a narrow lane that wound in and out for nearly a mile and then ran into the Chateau grounds where the hospital is situated. It nestles at the foot of big limestone hills and the whole place is very pretty. The hills show their white out cropping green trees off against each other and the sky. At evening a cloud fogs settles on the tops and finishes off a sight to last a long time. From the hills a great view is to be had. Out to sea are a couple of islands and the sun sets over these and shows what it can do in these lines. The hills are covered with scrubby timber not unlike our ti tree and several other native bushes. Wild thyme at present abounds also and is in flower and smells fine.

Percy Alfred Peachey

The chateau was used as a hospital for officers, other ranks were accommodated in tents in the hospital grounds. The chateau was demolished in 1958 to make way for apartment buildings.

2nd AGH at Chateau Moussot

Peachey’s diaries and letters paint a vivid picture of Marseilles.

With thanks to Jeff Madsen.


Wimereux, France. c. 1917. The entrance to No. 2 Australian General Hospital. AWM P02804.002

Arrived 1 July 1916 on site of ‘partly completed’ 5th British Convalescent Depot on the road between Wimereux and Boulogne, the “most important base port of the B.E.F.” on the “direct route of casualties from the Salient” (Butler, 417).

The Nursing Staff proceeded in parties of 10 to Wimereux from June 20th to June 29th, the last party leaving on that day with the Medical staff and equipment on a special train. They arrived at Wimereux on 1.7.16, and the Hospital was ready for patients the next day. Sister Norma Heritage was left at Moussot with 19 Sisters and Staff Nurses, and she re-joined the unit on 18.8.16.

In November 1916, Principal Matron E. J. Gould R.R.C. was recalled to England for duty, and was replaced at No.2 Australian General Hospital by Matron E. Gray A.A.N.S.

The Hospital at Wimereux closed on 7.2.19, and was instructed to hold itself in readiness to proceed to Australia in March. The Nursing Staff returned to England in parties of 10, beginning on 12.3.19 and the last party with Matron Gray leaving on 19.3.19. Six members were on leave in the South of France, and returned to England on the expiration of their leave.

REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY NURSING SERVICE IN FRANCE – E. M. McCarthy, Matron-in-Chief, British Troops in France and Flanders, Headquarters, 31.7.19



Published Saturday May 21, 2011 · Last modified Saturday December 26, 2015
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence

We're pleased that people are using this website as a source for locations, quotes and other primary source material. It's why we published our notes on the web. But we'd very much appreciate a footnote or credit. Much of the hospital (and other) location information for Lemnos and the Western Front is original research -- thank you, from Bernard & Cheryl