Organisers are still on the hunt for memorabilia of World War I in the Gunnedah area.
Gunnedah Shire Council and local historians Cate and Geordie Clark will put together an exhibition called Between the Crosses.
Mr and Mrs Clark are on the look out for local memorabilia of the war to include in the exhibition.
“We are really hoping that residents from all across the Gunnedah region become involved in the project to commemorate the young men and women from across the region that enlisted into or supported the war effort, with smaller centres sometimes contributing more per capita than some of the larger centres,” Mrs Clark said.
“We are asking locals out there to look for anything that may be stashed away from their great-grandfather or Uncle Joe’s time in the Great War, and who are willing to loan it for display as part of this poignant exhibition.
“It’s not just the overseas war experience that we are talking about, as the Gunnedah community supported its men overseas in many ways, with particular mention of the Gunnedah Red Cross which formed as a direct result of World War I.”
Between the Crosses will be held to mark Anzac Day in April.
Both Mr and Mrs Clark have had a life-long love of local history, with Mrs Clark recently completing writing and research for two military history publications involving Gunnedah. Mr Clark has previously assisted local historian John Buchanan in the 1990s and is now working on a local history of Gunnedah’s Boer War veterans.
Anyone who is interested in contributing items for the exhibition can contact Mr Clark on 0427 425 564, or Cate Clark on 0408 425 564.
To take a sneak peek at what will be included in the exhibition, visit www.facebook.com/betweenthecrosses or Twitter@BetweenCrosses.
On August 5, 1914, England declared war on Germany. And, in a small corner of north-west NSW, Gunnedah and district sent forth many of its vibrant young men women to fight the good fight in support of Mother England.
By Cate Clark
A common misconception about World War 1 was that it was a “man’s war”.
While it’s true that no women fought on the front line, they still had to deal with horrors in military hospitals all over the world’s war zones. Such was the scale of injury and death that many only served a short time – not able to effectively “cope” with the atrocities of missing arms, legs, destroyed lungs and decimated spirits.
One of those nurses who led from the front was an ex-Gunnedah hospital matron who saw that she was needed and didn’t hesitate to raise her hand.
Matron Amy Ennis had been a fixture in the north-west for many years before the war acting as matron at both Gunnedah Hospital and also Braemar Private Hospital in Narrabri. She would have seen her fair share of disease, and the odd broken bone, but nothing could have prepared her for what she would witness in service.
Amy enlisted on November 24, 1914 with the Australian Military.
The Tamworth Daily Observer stated: “Nurse Ennis, formerly matron, of Gunnedah hospital, is amongst the nurses who sail [on the ‘Kyarra’] with the Australian No. 2 General Hospital (AGH) Corps for the war.”
Amy arrived in Cairo, Egypt in early January 1915. At this early stage in the war the primary function of the AGHs was to serve the 1st Australian Division camp located at Mena.
A few months later though, casualties from Gallipoli began arriving. It was at this time that Amy was detailed for duty at Lemnos – seeing first-hand the horrors of the Turkey Campaign.
Later that year, Amy would be granted leave owing to stress and subsequent heart problems. However, less than a month later she was back at work.
In April 1916, Amy finally completed her tour and sailed for Australia.
Matron Ennis was raised to be Superintendant of Military Nurses in NSW.
It was in this capacity that Amy spoke of her experiences with Aussie Diggers in November: “No matter how desperately wounded they were as bright and as plucky as could be ... they can be managed ... but won’t be ordered ... and that characteristic is just as pronounced away from home as it was here in the bush, where you get exactly the same sort of man.”
Amy Ennis ... a bush trained nurse, part of Gunnedah’s amazing war history - a woman who gave herself to the war effort, providing comfort, saving lives ... making a difference.
Cate Clark is a local historian and writer. If you have any ideas for a future article, or would like to contribute a story, contact her at: email@example.com or 0408 425 564.
For more about Gunnedah and district’s role in World War I, Ron McLean’s book In the Line of Fire is recommended. It can be purchased from Gunnedah Newsagency, Second Edition and the Visitor Information Centre for $45.