Book recognises Bendigo's World War I nurses

HISTORY: Historian Murray Poustie with Returned Nurses RSL sub-branch president Colonel Jan McCarthy at the book launch. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

HISTORY: Historian Murray Poustie with Returned Nurses RSL sub-branch president Colonel Jan McCarthy at the book launch. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

THE stories of Bendigo's World War I nurses are finally within the public's reach, 100 years later.

Bendigo's Murray Poustie has researched and written a book to give the 72 nurses the recognition they deserve.

Mr Poustie is a Vietnam Veteran and decided it was time the nurses' stories were compiled.

The retired accountant self-published the book Remember Our Nurses.

The book is a tribute to the service and sacrifice of the nurses listed on honour rolls at Bendigo hospital and at the Soldiers Memorial Institute in Pall Mall.

It also also includes 12 Bendigo-related nurses who are not listed on the rolls.

Mr Poustie questioned why the project hadn't been done sooner.

"The story of the Bendigo nurses' dedication, professionalism, courage and persistence surrounded by the horrors of war just had to be told," he said.

"The Bendigo community didn’t recognise them when they came back and when they later died.

"Two died as a result of their service and were hardly mentioned."

Some of the nurses were undoubtedly shattered in mind and body... - Murray Poustie

Mr Poustie said there was a desire to get life back to normal after the war, but trauma took a huge toll.

"In the aftermath of World War I, the world seemed shattered by the death and destruction that had occurred," he said.

"Our soldiers and nurses returned to a different Australia and many battled to find their place again in their communities."

Mr Poustie said governments and communities made promises to help survivors and remember the fallen.

''Toasts were offered and thanks given for a job well done," he said.

"Sadly, however, many of our nurses remained just names on honour boards as communities rebuilt after the war and the losses, so profound at the time, faded into memories and history."

Twelve of the nurses returned home as invalids after the war and several received awards for their courage and distinguished service. 

"Some of the nurses were undoubtedly shattered in mind and body and did not return to nursing," Mr Poustie said.

"Some struggled back to normality while a few never missed a beat, continuing their careers as if little had happened."

Remember our Nurses is available at Bendigo RSL Military Museum on Pall Mall and Bendigo hospital's gift shop.

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