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Old 26-09-22, 10:41 PM
badgecollector's Avatar
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hi all
not often you find attributable Australian Army Nursing Service 1916 badges and this one is bronze and enamel. ive only ever seen the gold and enamel.
i wonder what the difference was? why there was 2 different types?
anyway, this one belonged to the following nurse. now to find her WW1 pair of medals which i believe is floating around the UK somewhere. if anyone finds them please let me know

ROBERTSON, Gertrude Muriel Norton
Subjects WW1

Family name: ROBERTSON
Given names: Gertrude Muriel Norton
Alternative name: Preferred name Muriel
Gender: Female
Religion: Church of England
Date of birth: 13 December 1883
Place of birth: Birth St Kilda, Australia
East Melbourne addresses
Year: 1914 Marinook Private Hospital, 375 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Military service: WW1
Field of service: Nurse
Rank: Staff Nurse
Military units:
Australian Army Nursing Service
(Colabar War Hospital)
(Hospital Ships Devanha and Sicilia)
Military casualty: Malaria and neuritis; medically unfit for service August 1918
Date of death: 1972
Place of death: Death Kensington, London, United Kingdom
Decorations and medallions: British War Medal, Victory Medal
Biographical notes:
The life of Gertrude Muriel Norton Robertson encapsulates in many ways the development of Victoria as colony and state, and its ongoing links with the British Empire. Early colonial Melbourne, medical practice in the colony, its involvement in the Boer War, and pioneering veterinary research in the interwar period were all part of her family's life.

Muriel (her preferred name) was born in 1883, to Robert Robertson (1843-1910) and his wife Joanna Kate nee Norton (1849-1903). She was the younger of twins. Twins Gwendoline Maud and she were the seventh and eighth children in their family of three sons and six daughters.

Somerset-born Robert was a doctor, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in England since 1868. (His name in the Melbourne press never lacked 'MRCS England'). He arrived in Victoria in 1869 aged 26 and established himself as a medical practitioner and surgeon. He was resident surgeon at the Melbourne Hospital before setting up in private practice in St Kilda in 1871, with honorary appointments at the Alfred Hospital (Argus, 30.1.1871, 17.2.1871; Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian, 10.5.1873; see also interments/medicine/robertsonr for his resignation in controversial circumstances in 1877).

In 1871, Robert married Joanna Kate Norton in St Peter's Church Eastern Hall. Notice of the marriage ('by banns') apppeared in several papers. Joanna was the only daughter of Charles Norton Esq, who has been described as a 'colonial era Victorian sketcher, cartoonist, amateur photographer (?), architect, squatter and civial servant' ( Her mother, Susan Meade, had been governess to the colony's superintendent Charles La Trobe. Joanna had been born in near Geelong in a hut, the subject of one of her father's pictures. Joanna herself as a 17 year old had entered drawings in the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition of 1866 ( While Charles died years before Muriel was born, she may well have known her mother's work in annotating some of his drawings.

Joanna was born in a hut but her children were born in a doctor's house - their father's - in St Kilda. Little is known of the children's education. Father Robert chaired the 'Board of Advice' for Brighton Road State School, and lobbied for trees for the grounds (Argus, 14.7.1882). He sent at least one son, William, to Melbourne Grammar. William was to have a distinguished career as a veterinary scientist (Norah L. Killip, 'Robertson, William Apperley Norton (1874–1939)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 10 February 2014).

Muriel's eldest brother Robert Patrick went to Queensland and managed pastoral properties in the Winton area. He returned home to join the Victorian Mounted Rifles and volunteer for the war against the Boers in South Africa. Corporal Robertson was killed in action in the Transvaal on 29 May 1901 (Argus, 29.6.1901; 29.5.1902). His father, himself a Lieutenant Colonel (retired) in the Victorian Medical Staff for the local contingents, was undoubtedly devastated. Muriel's other brother Harold died of phthisis (tuberculosis) in 1910.

As seems common among the families of East Melbourne WW1 nurses at least, Muriel and several of her sisters had careers. Only Gwendoline consistently described her occupation on the electoral rolls as 'home duties', keeping house for their father until his death in 1910 and then on her return from the war in 1919, her sister.

Ada was a governess like her maternal grandmother (Australian Electoral Roll 1903) before moving to North America in 1905. A family inscription in wavering hand on a photo of Ada described her as 'artist - writer - and many gifts'. In 1914, she married English-born journalist James Bottomley Schofield in Vancouver. Helen was also a journalist, and lived in London and later the United States.

Mary, Muriel and Nina became nurses.

Mary was the first of the sisters to qualify. She completed the nursing certificate at the Alfred Hospital (where her father Robert had been an honorary surgeon) in 1906, and registration with the Royal Victorian Trained Nurses Association in 1907. Within a few years, she was running her own private hospital, Marinook, at 375 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne (between Eades and Clarendon Streets). Nina, the youngest member of the family, trained at the Children's Hospital but died before she had finished in July 1913 (Argus, 8.7.1913), from typhoid fever. She was the third of Muriel's siblings to die.

Muriel herself then trained at the Children's Hospital. She completed the three years required by early 1917, and soon after applied to join the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS).

War service

Various factors doubtless played a part in Muriel's decision to join the AANS - the untimely deaths in hospital of a brother and a sister, the death in action of her eldest brother, her father's interest in military medicine, a desire to travel overseas like her sisters Ada and Helen. Whatever the reason(s), Muriel was the only member of the family to enlist. She named her sister Mary as her next of kin, and gave her permanent address as 375 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne.

Two weeks after she joined the AANS on 16 June 1917, Muriel sailed from Melbourne on the SS 'Somali' in the company of 60 other Victorian nurses bound nursing duties with the British India Service (see also Eliza Rowan, They disembarked in Bombay a month later and Muriel was posted to the Colabar War Hospital there.

More than 500 members of the AANS served in India, although it was not recognised officially as a theatre of war.

Colabar was one of several British hospitals in Bombay. Its 400 or so patients were mainly officers and troops from the British garrison in India. It was near the water, 'just the quaintest looking place with the native huts along the edge' according to another Australian nurse there the previous year (Gippsland Mercury, 21.11.1916). Swimming was hazardous because of the water, that nurse continued, and she did not particularly like the food which was 'rather sour' and indeterminate in nature, with cholera an ever present fear. Native boys looked after their rooms, drew their baths and prepared afternoon tea for the nurses Warwick Examiner and Times, 3.10.1917). (For a group photo of the medical staff at Colabar see

Muriel also served on two hospital ships. A month after arriving in Bombay, she boarded HS 'Devanha' on one of its regular details to Mesopotamia to bring back sick and wounded troops for treatment in the British hospitals in Bombay. In April 1918, she was posted to HS 'Sicila' hospital ship on the same route.

Muriel became ill herself on HS 'Sicilia' towards the end of May 1918, and was admitted to Colabar. Severe headaches and other debilitating symptoms led to diagnoses of malaria, sandfly fever and neuritis, and she was for a time classified as 'seriously ill.' Her family were kept abreast (by post) of her condition and progress.

A medical board in August assessed Muriel's condition. Its members determined she was 'suffering from neuritis, debility and weakness, the result of climate and service in India and on an [sic] hospital ship.' The medical board deemed her unfit for service in India and recommended she return to Australia on six months leave. Muriel reached Melbourne on 3 October 1918. Five weeks later the Armistice was signed bring the Great War to an end.

Staff Nurse Muriel Robertson was awarded the British War Medal for service in India and the Victory Medal for service on hospital ships.

After the War

Muriel needed two years to recover from her illness. She was a patient in No 11 Australian General Hospital at Caulfield in 1920, where many ex AANS members nursed. She was bedridden - confined to an iron frame and unable to sit up for months. Her plight attracted the sympathy and admiration of Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, wife of the Governor General, on one of her visits to the hospital. Writing to Muriel in September 1920, Lady Helen referred to Muriel's 'special courage' in illness, and her 'example under such a trial [being] an inspiration to all' [letter in private collection].

Muriel was discharged from the AANS on 23 May 1921, medically unit. It is not clear if she worked as a nurse again though she maintained her registration for several years.

She and twin sister Gwendoline lived in Albert Park in the 1920s. In late 1921, they travelled to Honolulu to visit their older sister Joan Schofield who had moved there with her husband. Muriel's occupation on the passnger manifest was 'sister', Gwendoline was 'none'.

In 1928, Muriel and Gwendoline moved to the United Kingdom, likely drawn by their sense of England as 'home' - their father had been born there nearly 90 years before - and the example of their sisters Joan and Helen who both lived overseas. They spent the rest of their long lives in genteel poverty in the London suburb of Kensington. Muriel was active in various voluntary organisations especially during the 1939-45 war - receiving certificates for anti-gas training and first aid, as well as for 'her spendid efforts as a Voluntary Poppy Day Worker' and for hospitality to overseas forces in England.

They died in Kensington, Muriel in 1972 aged 89, and Gwendoline in 1977 aged 93.
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Old 26-09-22, 11:06 PM
Jackhr Jackhr is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: St Leonards Victoria, Australia
Posts: 1,129

Nice find ,did these come locally or O/S ?

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Old 27-09-22, 01:15 AM
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hey Rob
i dont know what happened to the title?
that service number has nothing to do with this post
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Old 27-09-22, 03:26 AM
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Home Guard Home Guard is offline
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 2,586

Absolutely AWESOME!!!! Wonder what happened to her RS throat badge?

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Old 28-09-22, 07:02 AM
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badgecollector badgecollector is offline
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Posts: 4,189

thanks terry
yes, the throat badge, the arm badge and the medals
hopefully one day
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