First death of an Australian nurse

On this day in 1915, the Brisbane Courier reported the first death of an Australian nurse in Egypt. The nurse was Louisa Annie Bicknell, whose parents resided at Abbotsford in Victoria. She was a staff nurse at the 1st Australian General Hospital in Heliopolis, and died from septic poisoning of her right arm while tending to wounded soldiers.

Louisa Annie Bicknell

Louisa Annie Bicknell

Nurse Bicknell trained at the Mooroopna Hospital, worked at the Women’s Hospital, and belonged to the Melbourne District Nursing Society and the Royal Victorian Trained Nurses’ Association. For seven or eight years before she enlisted, she conducted a private hospital in Bairnsdale in partnership with Nurse Williams, with whom she had trained. Louisa was buried with full military honours at the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, and was deeply mourned by her family and her local community.

Earlier in the week , the Cairns Post reported that a hospital for wounded Australian officers was to be opened imminently at South Kensington in London, under the direction of medical practitioner and Agent-General for Tasmania, Sir John McCall. All medical services were to be voluntary, and the medical staff and nurses mostly Australian.

Robyn Hamilton – QANZAC100 Content Curator, State Library of Queensland