Rememberance Day this year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, the guns falling silent at 11:00am, 11 November 1918 – and a chance to remember those who travelled across the world from the Far South Coast to help those in need.
Sister Pearl Corkhill MM, born in Tilba Tilba in the Bega Valley, was one of seven Australian nurses portrayed in the ABC series ANZAC Girls, to win Military Medals for ‘courage and devotion’ during the First World War. Having their contribution to the war effort was recognised by the then British Empire was an honour for the seven, as Military Medals had previously been awarded only to soldiers.
In July 1918, Pearl was attached to the 38th British Casualty Clearing Station, where she continued to attend to the wounded during an air raid, with no regard for her own safety. She received the medal from King George V.
After the war, she became senior sister at Bega District Hospital. She died in Dalmeny in 1985 and is buried at Narooma cemetery.
The Southern Local Health District Chief Executive Andrew Newton said this Rememberance Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the legacy of our medical services nursing community.
“This Remembrance Day marks the end of four years of sacrifice, suffering and death after Australia joined the First World War on 4 August 1914,” Mr Newton said.
“In tented hospitals in World War I, as part of the 2,139 Australian contingent, 90 nurses could be in charge of as many as 1,200 beds containing our mortally wounded soldiers. Another 130 nurses were sent to India with the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service; but there were hundreds more, who have not been documented.
“They were in horrible conditions, and remembering the facilities and lack of supplies and modern day medications and drugs, particularly on the Western Front, where hospitals were tents in the middle of the battlefield, the nurses played a significant role.”
It is also worth noting, the red poppy worn on Remembrance Day was inspired by a Canadian Doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae who, after seeing the red poppies growing in battle-scared fields, wrote the famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.