Nursing Sister Lucretia Smart had graduated from Adelaide Hospital in 1908 and until enlistment had been Sister in charge of Ophthalmic, Gynaecological and Surgical wards at Adelaide Hospital. Sister Smart was part of the nursing staff from the Adelaide Hospital who enlisted to serve in 1914. The group, Second Australian General Hospital – 1st to 16th and Special Reinforcements, embarked in Melbourne, Victoria, on the H.M.A.T Kyarra, 5th December 1914. Sister Smart was 36 years old, the average age of the nurses in this group was 32 years of age.
Mena House (Hotel) was occupied by the 2nd Australian General Hospital (2 AGH) from early 1915. In June 1915 the hospital staff were transferred to Cairo, Mena House continued as an auxiliary hospital.
My dear Mother,
I am now on duty at Alexandria, nursing our own wounded men from the front. They are brought here by Hospital Ships from the Dardanelles, very badly smashed about and lots of them have succumbed to their injuries – but we still have a great number recovering – there are a daily average of about 1300 wounded in our Hospital & in no 17. G,H, there are about 1000 at Heliopolis there are 2000 & oh! dear they are all over the place. I’ve had a very strenuous time & have just had a couple of days off duty – going on again today at 2p.m. The sights have been too awful for description – There are only 5 of No 2 G. Hospital nurses here helping at no 15. The others are still in Cairo & Mena House yet & they have only the slight injuries there – I expect they will all get down to Alexandra in time – The battle of the Dardanelles is not half over yet I’m afraid. Hope it is by the time you get this letter tho’.
I was glad to come from Mena to Alexandria – because we are at the sea side now it was getting very hot and very dusty out at the Pyramids – being on the edge of the desert. We are living at this Hotel & its, balconies which are all round overlook the sea is only 2 or 3 minutes walk from the beach – Haven’t seen or heard a word of Bert Tilbrook since I came to Egypt, If I knew his number or regiment I could write to him- I was on night duty for 8 nights the sole nurse for 396 men only had the assistance of 6 red cross orderlies to help me, so you can imagine what the strain was. The wounds made by all the horrid dum-dum explosive bullets ae really shocking, one man alone has 4 bullet wounds and 2 limbs broken and that is the common run of things. Don’t mind if you do not hear from me after this for a week or two – I am well & quite safely sheltered in a big hotel & when on duty in the big hospital & the seat of the war is hundreds of miles away.
Fond love, Lucretia
Nursing Sister Smart was one of many South Australian Nurses to receive a honourable ‘Mention in Despatch’, the notice had to appear in the London Gazette, and the family would be notified of the event as the notice would also appear in the main city newspaper.
After the war, in 1919, a new Army Order provided that individuals Mentioned in Despatches would receive a certificate. This framed certificate for Nursing Sister Miss L F Smart, “for gallant and distinguished services in the Field”, is signed by the Secretary of State for the War, Winston Churchill.