Lemnos 1915: Then & Now — large format photo book now available for sale

Rachael Pratt

Sister Rachael Pratt of Carlton, Victoria joined the Australian Army Nursing Service at age 37. She left Australia with 3AGH on board RMS Mooltan on 15 May 1915. Sister Pratt served at Lemnos (where she was sick a week with dysentery); at Abbeville she was detached briefly to the adjoining South African General Hospital, before joining 1ACCS on 9 June 1917. She was wounded on 4 July 1917 and moved to 10 Stationary Hospital at St Omer the following day. Sister Pratt was tranferred to England, via 14GH Wimereux, on 28 July. In October of that year she was awarded the Military Medal for “conspicuous gallantry displayed in the performance of her duties on the occasion of hostile air raids on Casualty Clearing Stations in the Field” (London Gazette 16 October 1917). She returned to Australia in August 1918.

Studio portrait of Sister Rachael Pratt MM, of Carlton, Vic.

Sister Pratt nursed at the Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, before enlisting on 10 May 1915 in the Australian Army Nursing Service, Australian Imperial Force, as a staff nurse. On 18 May 1915 she embarked for London on RMS Mooltan. Staff Nurse Pratt went to Lemnos in August 1915 with the 3rd Australian General Hospital (3AGH). Staff Nurse Pratt continued to serve with 3AGH when it was transferred to Abbassia, Egypt, following the Gallipoli campaign, where she remained until 25 September 1916. Staff Nurse Pratt then served with the 1st Australian General Hospital in England, before joining the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station (1ACCS) at Bailleul, France. On the night of 3-4 July 1917, enemy aircraft attacked 1ACCS, where Staff Nurse Pratt was on duty and attending a patient. A bomb exploded near the tent, wounding Staff Nurse Pratt, who continued to attend her patient with a level of coolness and bravery that was said to set a conspicuous example to the patients and others. She was later admitted to hospital and underwent surgery on her wounded right shoulder and lung. The following day, Staff Nurse Pratt was promoted to the rank of Sister; she was awarded her Military Medal for “bravery in the field” on 19 October 1917, one of seven nurses to receive this award during the First World War. After recuperating in England, Sister Pratt served with the 2nd Australian Convalescent Depot at Weymouth and then the 1st and 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospitals. Sister Pratt returned to Australia on 24 August 1918.

Australian War Memorial P05664.001

Nursing at Lemnos, August-December 1915

I must commend the work of the nursing sisters of our unit, throughout these difficult months of active service conditions. They went smilingly through, not one of them ever complaining of her lot. They did exceedingly well in the most trying circumstances, and were naturally proud of their work among the courageous soldiers whom they nursed…

Reveille Vol 6 Issue 12, 1 August 1933 – full transcript, Mudros West

Nurses under fire

Pratt enlisted as a staff nurse with the AANS in 1915. She worked on Lemnos, treating the wounded from Gallipoli, then was sent to France and was stationed at No. 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station (1ACCS) in July 1917. On 1 July 1ACCS was attacked from the air, with a bomb landing close to where Pratt was nursing a patient. Shrapnel from the bomb burst through the tent, tearing into her back and shoulder and puncturing her lung. After the attack she worked on as best she could but eventually collapsed and was evacuated to Britain for treatment and convalescence. She was promoted to sister and awarded the Military Medal “for conspicuous gallantry displayed in the performance of her duties”. She returned to duty and nursed until the end of the war, returning home with a piece of shrapnel in her lung, which caused her to suffer from chronic bronchitis for the rest of her life. Rachael Pratt’s medal group, including her Military Medal, is held by the Memorial.

Elizabeth Stewart, Nurses under fire (Wartime issue 50)

From Matron-in-Chief’s diary

04.07.17  Sister R. Pratt: DMS 2nd Army, telephoned that Sister R. Pratt, AANS had been wounded whilst on duty at 1 Australian CCS by a splinter of bomb in the chest. She had been evacuated to 10 Stationary Hospital.

05.07.17  Sister R. Pratt: Notification received by wire from 10 Stationary Hospital that Sister R. Pratt, AANS who had been wounded in the chest, was progressing, but her condition was still serious. Wired this information to the War Office.

13.07.17  Called at 2 CCS at Bailleul, and 1 Australian CCS and at 53 CCS – all three of these units were packing up and were leaving for St. Omer that evening. At 1 Australian CCS (Sister in charge – Miss Tait) a bomb had been dropped about a fortnight ago in the grounds and had injured the Night Sister, Miss Pratt, AANS – penetrating wound of chest. This Sister is progressing favourably and is at present at 10 Stationary Hospital.

28.07.17  Sister Pratt, AANS: Arranged that Miss Wilson, Matron, 3 Australian General Hospital, should proceed to Boulogne to visit Sister Pratt, AANS who had been wounded at 1 Australian CCS and is being evacuated to England this afternoon. Miss Pratt has only been 3 days in Boulogne having been kept 3 weeks at 10 Stationary Hospital before being moved.

Official war diary of the Matron-in-Chief, British Expeditionary Force

Resources

Published Saturday June 11, 2011 · Last modified Saturday July 23, 2011
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