Hearing Annie's story | gallery

FORGOTTEN war nurse Annie Westcott was finally given the recognition she deserved at a memorial service and plaque unveiling. 

NOT FORGOTTEN: Service to commemorate Annie Westcott in memory of all forgotten nurses of World War I. Picture: Kate Healy

NOT FORGOTTEN: Service to commemorate Annie Westcott in memory of all forgotten nurses of World War I. Picture: Kate Healy

Ballarat-born and base hospital trained nurse Annie Westcott served in the trenches as a nurse during World War One. 

When she died in the 1950’s she was buried alongside her younger brother. His name was the only one etched on the grave. 

When they heard about this tragic story, members of the Ballarat Base Hospital Trained Nurses League wanted to ensure Ms Westcott’s story was not forgotten.

The league, lead by chairwoman Sarah Birtle raised money to create a plaque for Ms Westcott.

But the process wasn’t entirely straightforward – they had to gain permission from a Westcott relative.

After much searching a distant relative was found to be living inter-state and permission was granted.

“It’s more than Annie’s story, it’s about acknowledging all the nurses that went to war,” Ms Birtle said.

“Annie is one of many.

“She didn’t have a headstone, she didn’t have anything to acknowledge that she was there or the work she did.” 

Ms Westcott was born in Warrenheip in 1875.

She trained as a nurse at Ballarat Base Hospital at the age of 24 and graduated in 1899. 

Hospital conditions were harsh – with many patients treated for mining injuries, typhoid fever or diphtheria.

Ms Westcott worked long shifts – from 7.30am to 9.30am but these conditions were nothing in comparison to the conditions in trench warfare.

Nurses saw casualty after casualty – with the make-shift hospitals having 1500 patients at it’s peak. 

In 1926 Ms Westcott left, because she was too old to nurse for the armed forces, she traveled with injured soldiers back to Australia where she married.

She had no children and died in 1951, aged 76. 

Chair of the Ballarat General Cemetries Trust Judy Verlin (AM) said the occasion marked a new chapter in the way history could be recorded and rectified in Ballarat.

“One of the roles of the trust is to ensure the gates of the cemetery are thrown open and that stories are told,” Ms Verlin said.

“Annie has been in this location for many years without the plaque or recognition … and today there is a plaque recognising her final resting place.”