This account of the official opening of the Fallen Soldiers' Memorial Hospital at Koo Wee Rup on Wednesday, May 23, 1923 is transcribed from the Koo Wee Rup Sun of May 24, 1923, p 4. Punctuation is original, but this has been re-paragraphed for clarity.
Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital - Officially opened Yesterday.
It has been a penchant with vice-regal representatives from
the Old Country to leave behind some monument of their labor whilst in our
midst. One of the best movements so far conceived is that instituted by Lady
Dudley, who started what is known as the Bush Nursing Association. Lady Dudley was a woman with a big range of
sympathy for the person out-back, and her travels in the various States taught
her that in times of emergency and sickness the people in the outback settlements
had to endure much risk and danger through lack of medical advice and
Realising the danger to which they were exposed, she called
a few friends together and propounded the humanitarian idea that an
organisation should be started that would make the prospects of their less
fortunate brothers and sisters in district parts brighter and happier. Her idea
took a concrete form, as what is now known as the Bush Nursing Association is
now in existence, and is eminently carrying out the function she desired.
This organisation sends out nurses who are thoroughly
equipped for their task, and thousands to-day are grateful for the work which
has been accomplished. Beginning in a
small way, the organisation has been spreading steadily, until to-day there are
41 centres in Victoria, besides numerous centres in other States of the
Commonwealth. Each year the movement is gaining ground, and the results of the
various centres are so successful that inquiries are made for information with
respect to how the centres are conducted. This is another instance illustrative
of what a small seed sown by a woman with high and noble ideals can produce,
and the association will ever remain a lasting memorial to the splendid work of
Lady Dudley during the term she was with us as the wife of the Governor-General
The life of a bush nurse is no sinecure. She has no hours
she can call her own. She is “at it, and always at it.” She is ever ready at
the least behest, night and day, on her mission of mercy. She is devoid of all
the pleasures and comforts which surrounds her sisters in the more populous
centres, but she recognises that she has a duty to perform to those in trials
and tribulations, and she carries out her unselfish task with a cheery and
optimistic spirit, and by her presence radiates happiness and comfort to all
with whom she comes in contact. She realises that “the noblest service is the
public good”; that life consisteth more than in eating and drinking, but that
each person has a responsibility to fulfil to their fellow man and woman. Yet
despite all the hardships she had to endure there must be compensation. The
highest joy in life is “the joy of doing good.” To ease pain, to lighten the
daily burden and to assuage grief must bring untold happiness and pleasure, and
it is in this direction that the devoted workers reap some measure of reward.
It is these compensations which have urged on all
humanitarian and Christian workers. The mission of the great Christian Leader
was not only to preach the Gospel, but to heal the sick, etc., exemplifying
that doing of such a work is fulfilling the highest law and carrying out His
precepts. One cannot help recalling the noble life of Florence Nightingale, who
so stirred by the terrible sufferings of the soldiers in the Crimean campaign,
that she gave up her life of ease and brought benediction to thousands of
soldiers. It is recorded that as she went about with her lamp in her hands the
soldiers kissed her shadow as she passed. So in the peaceful development of our
back block settlements the bush nurses go about with their lamps in hands
demonstrating that they are worthy disciples of the above-named woman.
The Bush Nursing Association is a co-operative movement,
which allows for the strong to help the weak. All persons who become members
contribute a fixed sum each year, which is devoted to the payment of the nurse
and the upkeep of the centre. Under this system it means that those who are
well and fortunate help to alleviate the unfortunate and sickly member. This is
carrying out in a practical manner the brotherhood of man, and it is regretted
that in all centres there are men and women who are not seized with the
importance of the principle involved. In every locality whether a person is
possessed of means or not, he should remember that his contribution is helping
to further and strengthen the movement, and in this manner convey help to those
most in need.
In the Kooweerup Centre we have advanced a stage further than
the majority. Almost at the inception of
the local movement it was recognised that better and effective work could be
rendered by the erection of a hospital, where patients could be brought to
receive the best attention possible. Such a method lightens the work of the
nurse. Patients in outlying parts always presents a difficulty in reaching, and
by concentrating the work in a healing institution much travelling, time and
expense is saved. The idea was taken up with enthusiasm, and an appeal was made
to the public, and it is gratifying to record that a good response resulted.
The committee recognised that they owed a duty to the “deathless heroes” who
fell in the late war and to memorialise their sacrifice it was decided to name
the new edifice “The Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.” The committee
endeavoured to secure the names of all district soldiers who fell, and their
names are inscribed on a marble tablet at the hospital, and of them the words
of an ancient epitaph can well be applied: “They sleep a holy sleep; say not
that the valiant ever die.”
On such an important occasion as the opening of the
hospital, which was fittingly performed yesterday by the President of the Shire
(Cr Simpson Hill), a brief account of the past history of the local movement
should be recorded.
It was the outbreak of the influenza epidemic which had the
effect of attracting attention to the value of bush nursing work, and at a
public meeting held on January 23, 1918, the local centre was established with
the following office-bearers:- President, Mr. W. Eason; treasurer Mr C. Adeney;
hon. secretary, Mr G.R. Burhop. On April 10, 1918 the following signed as
guarantors:- Messrs F. Ellis, J.J.J. Hudson, H.D. Mills, D M’Namara, T.
Jenkins, senr., and G.R. Burhop. Shortly afterwards the first nurse in the
person of Miss Homeward [Homewood], took up duties and served the centre for six months,
and later gave assistance for several months, owing to the large number of
influenza cases. Nurse M’Kay, who rendered excellent services during the
epidemic, served the centre for six months. The present nurse (Miss Walsh) took
charge of the work on April 21, 1920, and has labored devotedly and assiduously
ever since, and has earned the unswerving esteem of all members by her kindly advice and sympathetic
treatment. Nurse Cuff also gave appreciated service for a number of months.
Owing to the fact that the nurse did not have the comfort
and facilities required, the matter of erecting a cottage was first mooted by
the Secretary (Mr G.R. Burhop (1)) at a meeting held on April 8, 1919. The matter
was taken up immediately, and the late Mrs Townson (2) displayed a large measure of
interest in the proposal and organsied a series of entertainments and in this
way gave a practical start to the scheme. The value of her work was recognised,
as she was elected to the committee. Mrs
Townson’s life of service shortly afterwards terminated, for on June 14, 1919,
she “passed beyond these voices to where there is peace.”
The dreaded influenza epidemic accentuated the disabilities
the district was placed in through having no hospital, as a number of patients
had to travel long distances through cold and adverse weather, and when they
reached their destination they had not sufficient strength to combat the complaints
they were afflicted, with the result that death ensued. This appealed strongly
to a number of persons, and it was resolved on July 8, 1919 that a hospital be built
as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the district, and the woman’s ward to
be known as the “Kitty Townson Memorial Ward.”
The present site was purchased on March 16, 1920, and a
fortnight later Messrs J. Mickle and G. Burhop were elected trustees. A queen
carnival was the means of getting in a considerable amount of money, and it was
decided to name the beds after the districts which provided the queens. On
August 8, 1921, the secretary secured plans from the Health department, and
these were placed in the hands of Messrs Beaver and Parnell, architects,
Melbourne, with instructions to base their drawings on similar lines. Shortly
afterwards tenders were invited and Mr J. Colvin, senr., succeeded in getting
Now that the hospital is an accomplished fact, we cannot
conclude without saying that one outstanding personality in bringing the scheme
to a successful consummation has been the untiring zeal and devotion of Mr G.R.
Burhop. He has been absolutely absorbed in the work. The most difficult task
did not daunt him, and he has given time, money and labor and he must feel
highly elated that the object for which he has been striving is now a practical
reality. He has worked in a splendid spirit and has been suffused with “the
white heat of a passionate enthusiasm” for the centre. Mr and Mrs W.K. Paterson
have taken an active interest in the work. Mr Paterson has occupied the
position of treasurer for several years, while Mrs Paterson has given most
valuable advice and initiated many successful schemes to promote the welfare of
the centre. The committee has also given good support to all movements
instituted to assist the funds.
It now remains with all persons to do their bit in
maintaining the institution. They owe a duty to the work. The definition of the
word duty is due to. What is due to a cause
is what you owe, and what you owe you should pay. So in regard to the Fallen
Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital we hope the district will recognise their
obligations; assist all schemes to promote its welfare, and make it worthy in
every way of this rich and flourishing district. Only the past few weeks Dr
Lyell Andrews has taken up practice here, and this fact will make the work of
the local centre more effective.
Fallen Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, Koo Wee Rup, 1923.
Image : Koo Wee Rup Swamp Historical Society
Despite the unpropitious weather which prevailed yesterday
afternoon, there was a large attendance to witness the ceremony of declaring
the Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital open. Members of the Victorian Council
of the Association were present, including Miss Cameron (superintendent) and
Sir James Barrett (general secretary).
The ground was decorated and flags of the various nations
floated gaily in the breeze. There were three stalls - refreshment, jumble, and
linen – and juveniles, dressed in nurses costumes, solicited donations. The
Kooweerup and District Brass Band rendered selections during the afternoon.
Mr W.K. Paterson presided and called upon Cr S. Hill (3) president of the Cranbourne Shire, to perform the opening ceremony.
Councillor Hill said:-
“We are assembled to-day for the purpose of opening this building, to be known henceforth as the Kooweerup Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, and to unveil a tablet to their memory. I do know why I have been especially singled out for this high honor – for it is a high honor – as I am sure there are others who could quit themselves much better than I can hope to accomplish. Whether it be from the fact that I am your shire president and having been the deciding factor that your shire offices shall be in this town, where shortly I hope to see the foundation-stone laid (4)
; whether it be from my long residence on the swamp and the battles I helped to fight for your rights and wishes; whether from the fact that during the early years I was frequently called upon to do work akin to what will be done on this building (5)
, or because I am one of the founders of the Fathers’ Association that you have so selected me I know not. But the fact remains I am here to do it, and I must heartily thank you for the honor and gladly accede to your wishes.
You have a district for which productivity, climate,
variety of products and wealth is second to none in Victoria. I well remember
when there was but one store and a boarding house where your town now stands.
Its growth in a few years has been something miraculous. No town in the shire
or two towns can compare to it, and it will be many long years before a halt is
called – if ever. It is the junction of
a railway that is tapping still further untold wealth. You have the seaboard
almost at your door, and it is not too far distant to see a time when the canal
will be dredged and vessels of a class come here for your produce to supply the
Naval Base and the mammoth steamers that will as assuredly come to Western Port Bay,
as night follows day.
You sent tour brave sons to take part in the Great War
for freedom. Your sacred dead lie in foreign lands. This you can never forget.
Later your shire will honor their obligations to them, but to-day you of your
own volition are honoring them in a way that you deem befitting their actions,
and that reflects the highest honor upon you; their sacred memory you seek
perpetually to revere and the call of the suffering humanity to relieve. The
idea of inaugurating this movement and monument first took place when the call
of humanity was heard in the late deplorable influenza epidemic. Our loved ones
lay suffering; hospitals were scarce; nurses scarcer; still loved ones passed
away that might perchance have been saved could they have had the attention
These things had their reflex in the late war. You
remembered those you could not see, yet who you
wished so gladly to help, and from these things sprang the birth of the idea.
First a bush nurse, then a centre, and then a hospital. A band of workers was
needed to carry this spending program out. You, like your sons, sprang into the
breach. Your committee and indefatigable secretary would not accept defeat.
Wise councils prevailed; they came to the shire council and pleaded your cause.
The council donated £100, and the scheme was launched. And to-day you see the
results of the labor of love – for it has been to them a labor of love – and
what a most remarkable achievement they have made.
In my hands is a copy of the annual report (June 30,
1922) of the Bush Nursing Association, and what do I find. I have turned over
all its pages and find that there were at that date 42 centres in Victoria, but
that the Kooweerup centre is the only one, where in four figures are found
relating to its assets, etc. Truly a noble work and worthy of those who brought
it about. I am sure that Sir James Barrett, the association’s hon. secretary,
and Nurse Cameron, its superintendent, must feel delighted with such results.
To them I leave details with which they are more familiar, and with these achievements
I am going to ask you to unloose your purse strings and tell of its work to others,
so that the institution will be made quickly quite free of debt and able to accommodate
more patients if necessary.
Now, just to show you what the heroic band of bush nurses
are doing, let me read an extract from the “Herald” of January 30, 1923. After
reading the report the speaker continued: “Is not that splendid; it carries one’s
mind back to the early days of the swamp, when men worked and slaved up to
their middles in water to reclaim and pave the way for what it is to-day. There were no nurses, doctors, dentists or
hospitals here then, but there was at least one person who was sort of a bush
nurse; doctor and dentist all in one, who did the best that could be done
gratuitously, and who I think is not forgotten today. Of course, nursing and
doctors have the humorous side as well as the serious, and often the hearty
laugh helps more than the doctor’s physic.
Diggers, if I say to you who is the first you will honor,
I know and you know it will be the nurse, doctor, stretcher-bearer. All honor
then to that grand body of heroines, followers of “Our lady with the lamp,”
Florence Nightingale. May their shadows never grow less. Now let me get down to
more mundane things. This hospital will cost between £1800 and £2000.
It will be maintained by members’ subscriptions, donations and nursing charges.
At present the number of beds is four, but provision is made for more when
funds permit. Membership consists of a subscription of 30/ per annum, which
includes attention for the year by the nurse to all family under 18 years of
age. So far no life membership has been decided upon, but I put it up to the
board of management that it is a worthy honor, in addition to the membership,
and I think there are those who would be only too willing to become life
members, to hand down to posterity the fact that you are and will honor your
I feel I must be wearying you, so I will close with a
true story of the swamp in the early days. There was no fruit grown upon it, so
at the other end the boys used to visit the orchards at Garfield. On one
occasion the owner of the orchard loaded his gun with saltpetre, and the recipient was well pickled in a certain
part of his anatomy that required after treatment. He still lived to tell the
tale. A boy another time was up the tree when the gun appeared. In his haste to
get down he slipped and dislocated his shoulder. When the mother brought him to
the bush doctor she said, “Hadn’t you better tie him to the gate before you
pull it in?” Being told no, but to let him lie on the ground, she said, “Well,
I’ll sit on his chest for you; you don’t know him like I do.” He has won
several bike races since then, some in this town, so he is all right. Another,
a dental case, who kept saying, “Hold my head, hold my head.” The dentist felt
like ramming the forceps down his throat. Anyhow he is still alive and his head
is on his shoulders. Another dental
case. A perfect set of teeth, but monsters. Anyhow the patient insisted one
ached and it would have to come out. He stood the ordeal bravely. It took five
attempts to do the job. The poor dentist perspired like a person in a Turkish
bath, but the job was done at last. That man is dead to-day. I do not know what
killed him, perhaps Adams ale or the shock he got. Perhaps he is stoking the
fires down below ready for the dentist.
Recently there was another addition. Today it is this
building; shortly it will be your shire offices, all of which testify to the
grit and determination, like the pioneers of the district, to make this town a
memorable one, but in no way can you more befittingly memorise it than by
building and equipping a hospital such as
you have done to-day and add to
its wisdom, strength and beauty by dedicating it to your fallen heroes, and I
have the greatest pleasure in now declaring it open.
We come now to a different part of the programme, and I
will ask you to uncover the head. In the generous nature of your hearts you
have honored alike all the fallen in the Great War. This tablet that I am
called upon to unveil contains the names of those heroes of that great
deathless army that enlisted from these parts; the boys that never returned.
Least we forget, to their sacred undying and imperishable memory I dedicate
this tablet and now unveil it, and may their glorious, purified souls rest for
ever with the Eternal God. Amen. I will ask you all to observe a strict silence
for two minutes.
Sir James Barrett, on behalf of the Bush Nursing Association,
congratulated the local centre on being the first to open a hospital. He said
that Lady Dudley and Lady Carmichael first started the movement, and instanced
the hardships that settlers had to face owing to no medical service. To
complete the medical unit here the telephone should be connected, and a motor
ambulance and an extra nurse obtained.
Mr G. Burhop, hon, secretary, eulogised all the persons
who had rendered the centre great assistance, and mentioned that the late Mrs
Kitty Townson and himself first mooted the scheme here.
Mrs M. Hamilton (6) then declared open a ward to the memory
of the late Mrs Townson.
Mrs D. McNamara donated a fully furnished cot, endowed by
her son, Jack, to the memory of Mrs Townson. Mrs Appleford of Lang Lang, also
donated a kosy cot (7).
The cost of the hospital cottage and furnishings will run
into about £2000.
The names engraved on the memorial tablet are: - J.
Banbury, D.G. Bethune, S. Blake, J. Bryant, T. Bryant, M. Callanan, L. Coates,
P. Davis, J. Davy, C. Garbellini, H. Hamilton, J. Hannaker, R. Martin, C.
Osborne, J. O’Shea, J. Randle, J. Slocombe, A. Williams, C. Woods. (8)
The memorial plaque, unveiled on May 23, 1923, the day the Fallen Soldiers' Memorial Hospital
was opened. I have written about these men, here
Image: Heather Arnold
(1) George Randall Burhop - Born in England on October 16, 1873 and died in Brisbane on May 30, 1949; he married Dorothea Pausacker in 1898 (she died 1962, aged 87) and they had four children - Dora, Amey, George and Thomas. George was a Cranbourne Shire Councillor 1921 - 1941 and Shire President 1927-1928. George arrived in Australia with his parents when he was 13 years old and after living in New South Wales and Queensland took over his parent's farm on McDonald's Drain Road in 1914 and later purchased a large allotment in Lea Road. Mr Burhop was the Secretary of Hospital for 28 years until his retirement in December 1947. Obituary - Koo Wee Rup Sun
, June 1, 1949, p. 1.
(3) Cr Edward Simpson Hill, Shire of Cranbourne Councillor 1918 - 1924, Shire President 1922-1923, represented Tooradin Ward. He died on July 16, 1930, aged 69. Read a short obituary in the Dandenong Journal
, July 31, 1930, here
; he also enlisted at the age of 56 in World War One - I have written about him and other Dalmore soldiers (he was the Dalmore Post Master) here
Edward Simpson Hill - the husband of Charlotte and the father of Abner, Queenie. Roland, Crissie, Dudley, Rosie, Arthur and Ivy.
(4) The Cranbourne Shire Offices never did move to Koo Wee Rup; they remained in the Municipal Buildings, built on the corner of the South Gippsland Highway and Sladen Street in 1875, until the new Shire Offices were opened in Cranbourne in 1978
(7) Kosy Cot - I thought at first it was a typo, but it seems to be correct.