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Queenie, Letters from an Australian Army Nurse, 1915-1917

May 09, 2013

Queenie, Letters from an Australian Army Nurse, 1915-1917 
Authors Pat Richardson and Anne Skinner present Historic Australiana Military Biography in "Queenie, Letters from an Australian Army Nurse, 1915-1917"

A newly released book gives a glimpse into the hospital wards of the First World War and the life and times of a young woman who sailed across the world to help make a difference.(BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA) - "Queenie, Letters from an Australian Army Nurse, 1915-1917" (ISBN #9781742841991) is the fascinating and at times entertaining story, told through her letters home, of a young Army nurse's perceptions of the events, people and places she experienced during the cataclysmic years of the First World War.

Edith Florence Avenell, known to her family and friends as Queenie, was 25 years old when she enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service the day after the ANZACS stormed the beaches of Turkey in 1915. The letters she wrote home provide a very personal view of the war and the world of the times through the eyes of a modern, independent young woman.

The collection of letters was discovered at the bottom of her mother's glory box in 1982 by Queenie's niece, Pat Richardson, who diligently transcribed them and sent a copy to a local historian in Queenie's birthplace, the former gold mining town of Gympie in south-east Queensland. In 2008, writer Anne Skinner, then a journalist with local newspaper The Gympie Times, read the letters and set out to tell the story of the woman who sailed across the world to nurse the men broken by war."

The First World War was a pivotal time in the formation of Australia as a nation with its own identity," Ms Skinner says.

"The war broke out a little over a decade after Federation and there is no doubt that service personnel like Queenie and her friends helped cement Australia as a nation, in the perception of its citizens, as well as in the eyes of the world."The book conveys a powerful message about the importance of nurses to the health, welfare and morale of the troops during the First World War. Medical science made great strides between 1914 and 1918, laying the foundation of modern methods of treatment, plastic surgery, amputation and prosthetics. But with the discovery of antibiotics still decades ahead, more men died from septicaemia than bullets and the quality of the nursing was vital.

The Australian Army nurses were among the most advanced and best-trained in the world. They were also counsellors, companions and sometimes even cooks for the men in their care, writing letters home for the incapacitated, comforting the traumatised and holding the dying in their arms. They often worked 12 or more hours a day in conditions of extreme danger close tothe front lines, and suffered illness, injury and breakdown - but through it all they kept working, kept smiling and kept the wartime medical machine functioning.But Queenie was also an attractive, modern young woman who loved pretty clothes, male attention and a good time, and when she left the ward she found plenty to entertain her, first in exotic Cairo and later in London. As well as often heart-rending stories about the injured men in her care, her letters reveal a keen power of observation, an irrepressible sense of humour, down-to-earth practicality and - above all - humanity.Pat Richardson has given many talks and radio broadcasts on her aunt's war service, including a speech to a conference at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, where the letters are on open access. Excerpts from them have been included in the works of other authors and playwrights."

The Queenie book is the culmination of many of my interests, the status of women, being one of the main ones," she says. Ms Richardson, who lives in Nambucca Heads, NSW, has also published three books through her own imprint Gumleaf Press: Belle the Bushie, Belle on a Broomstick and No Medals for Mothers.Anne Skinner is a freelance writer, editor and military history researcher who lives in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

For more information, please visit BookPal is Australia's leading self-publisher and bookdistributor. Over 1,000 titles authored by both Australian andInternational authors have been published by BookPal since2006. The company is headquartered in Brisbane, Australiaand will expand to Singapore, Malaysia, USA, UK, NZ and Canada over the next 6 months.###Media Contact:Pat Richardson: Anne Skinner:

1 Comments Below

rose betita
May 11, 2013

This book seems filled with historical point of view. I would love to have a copy of it. It was a great idea publishing a letter of an Australian army nurse because of it's informative and relevant content about the 1st world war. I'm sure many Australians as well as people from other countries who will become interested in reading this book.

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