Egyptian jug adds to journey of discovery

Discoveries continue to be made about the women who served in WWI.

Discoveries continue to be made about the women who served in WWI.

A PIECE OF WW1 HISTORY: Tairawhiti Museum director Eloise Wallace with the Egyptian jug formerly owned and probably used by World War 1 nurse Ivy Smale. Picture by Liam Clayton
The official emblem for the book and exhibition launch of Recovery: Women’s Overseas Service in World War 1, both scheduled for Tairawhiti Museum on March 24.

A CENTURY after World War 1 is not too late to rediscover the lost stories of the many Gisborne-East Coast women who ventured to faraway shores to contribute to the war effort.

EIT Hawke’s Bay research professor and Tairawhiti Museum director Eloise Wallace continue to make more discoveries.

More material and information was coming out of the woodwork, Ms Wallace said.

All will be revealed at Tairawhiti Museum on March 24 at an exhibition and launch of Professor Matthews’ book Recovery: Women’s Overseas Service in World War 1.

For the latest preview of Recovery, Ms Wallace took The Herald to the museum’s New Collections store and presented an Egyptian water jug.

Little was initially known about the jug despite it being in the museum since 1957. It was donated by someone named Smale and was brought back from Egypt after World War 1.

“We were able to put two and two together,” Ms Wallace said.

“Firstly recognising the name Smale when we did a search of all the nurses’ names on our database. And then finding it was the right Smale by checking through the original accession registers and finding the donor’s home address, which matched up with where we knew Ivy Smale was living at that date.”

Anzac Day seminar

Last year’s Anzac Day seminar from Professor Matthews provided significantly more information.

Ted White, a nephew of Mrs Smale, attended. Along with another relative, Ian Barron, he was able to provide much more detail of her life than contained in military records better known for brevity and absence of personal data.

Ivy Smale (1885 to 1962), originally from Whatututu, was one of the few married nurses to serve overseas. Government policy was that only single women did so.

Her Motu husband, Arthur, was killed in France in 1917.

Mrs Smale served with the New Zealand Army Nursing Service in Egypt and England, and on troop transport ships from March 24, 1916 to February 17, 1919.

“She has such an amazing story (which will be told in another Herald article),” Ms Wallace said.

“I am sure she used this jug and brought it home as luggage on a troop ship as a reminder of her time in Egypt.”

Ms Wallace speculated that Mrs Smale may have used the jug when she served at the New Zealand Government Hospital (Infectious Diseases) in Suez. She was there for five months and brought it with her on her temporary return to New Zealand in January of 1917.

“She served duty aboard the TS Navua on this voyage. The jug has travelled a long way.”

Mrs Smale never remarried and is buried in the military section of Taruheru Cemetery.

Uncovering information

Professor Matthews, who visited her gravesite last Anzac Day, said little was known of Mrs Smale before Mr White and Mr Barron came forward.

Mrs Smale’s medals and badges and her war service certificate, presented by Mr Barron, will also feature in the Recovery exhibition.

Professor Matthews said she was grateful to Mr White, Mr Barron and others who had helped.

Ms Wallace also showed The Herald a mounted set of three photographs, all of one nurse. The photos were on the wall at the hospital for years, with little known about the woman pictured.

The woman is Ethel Watkins Taylor, the only Maori nurse to serve overseas, in Egypt and England, during the war.

Ms Wallace said she was an amazing lady and a woman of many accomplishments, including likely being the first woman president of a New Zealand Returned Services Association when she was voted president of the Motu/Matawai RSA.

The museum also has documentation on her, including a 1915 letter of recommendation for service with the New Zealand Army Nursing Service from W Carlyle Wilson, superintendent at Cook/Gisborne Hospital.

“As a sister at Gisborne Hospital for two years, I can thoroughly recommend her as a trustworthy nurse,’’ said the recommendation.

Ms Wallace carefully displayed a district nurse’s bag of the type that would have been used by Jean Cormack, who served in Egypt and England and was Cook County’s first district native health nurse.

“She must have been a very practical woman to be a public health nurse in the Cook County area at that time. She rode miles on horseback every day and worked in difficult and trying conditions.”

Te Papa, ECMOT (East Coast Museum of Technology) will also contribute artefacts to the exhibition.

Ms Wallace said it was important to show the role played by New Zealand nurses and other women during the war.

The services of New Zealand nurses were originally declined predicated on the belief that British nurses would prove sufficient.

The unprecedented scale of suffering and death in World War 1 quickly ended that delusion.

The authorities came to understand New Zealand soldiers were best cared for by New Zealand nurses, Ms Wallace said.

A CENTURY after World War 1 is not too late to rediscover the lost stories of the many Gisborne-East Coast women who ventured to faraway shores to contribute to the war effort.

EIT Hawke’s Bay research professor and Tairawhiti Museum director Eloise Wallace continue to make more discoveries.

More material and information was coming out of the woodwork, Ms Wallace said.

All will be revealed at Tairawhiti Museum on March 24 at an exhibition and launch of Professor Matthews’ book Recovery: Women’s Overseas Service in World War 1.

For the latest preview of Recovery, Ms Wallace took The Herald to the museum’s New Collections store and presented an Egyptian water jug.

Little was initially known about the jug despite it being in the museum since 1957. It was donated by someone named Smale and was brought back from Egypt after World War 1.

“We were able to put two and two together,” Ms Wallace said.

“Firstly recognising the name Smale when we did a search of all the nurses’ names on our database. And then finding it was the right Smale by checking through the original accession registers and finding the donor’s home address, which matched up with where we knew Ivy Smale was living at that date.”

Anzac Day seminar

Last year’s Anzac Day seminar from Professor Matthews provided significantly more information.

Ted White, a nephew of Mrs Smale, attended. Along with another relative, Ian Barron, he was able to provide much more detail of her life than contained in military records better known for brevity and absence of personal data.

Ivy Smale (1885 to 1962), originally from Whatututu, was one of the few married nurses to serve overseas. Government policy was that only single women did so.

Her Motu husband, Arthur, was killed in France in 1917.

Mrs Smale served with the New Zealand Army Nursing Service in Egypt and England, and on troop transport ships from March 24, 1916 to February 17, 1919.

“She has such an amazing story (which will be told in another Herald article),” Ms Wallace said.

“I am sure she used this jug and brought it home as luggage on a troop ship as a reminder of her time in Egypt.”

Ms Wallace speculated that Mrs Smale may have used the jug when she served at the New Zealand Government Hospital (Infectious Diseases) in Suez. She was there for five months and brought it with her on her temporary return to New Zealand in January of 1917.

“She served duty aboard the TS Navua on this voyage. The jug has travelled a long way.”

Mrs Smale never remarried and is buried in the military section of Taruheru Cemetery.

Uncovering information

Professor Matthews, who visited her gravesite last Anzac Day, said little was known of Mrs Smale before Mr White and Mr Barron came forward.

Mrs Smale’s medals and badges and her war service certificate, presented by Mr Barron, will also feature in the Recovery exhibition.

Professor Matthews said she was grateful to Mr White, Mr Barron and others who had helped.

Ms Wallace also showed The Herald a mounted set of three photographs, all of one nurse. The photos were on the wall at the hospital for years, with little known about the woman pictured.

The woman is Ethel Watkins Taylor, the only Maori nurse to serve overseas, in Egypt and England, during the war.

Ms Wallace said she was an amazing lady and a woman of many accomplishments, including likely being the first woman president of a New Zealand Returned Services Association when she was voted president of the Motu/Matawai RSA.

The museum also has documentation on her, including a 1915 letter of recommendation for service with the New Zealand Army Nursing Service from W Carlyle Wilson, superintendent at Cook/Gisborne Hospital.

“As a sister at Gisborne Hospital for two years, I can thoroughly recommend her as a trustworthy nurse,’’ said the recommendation.

Ms Wallace carefully displayed a district nurse’s bag of the type that would have been used by Jean Cormack, who served in Egypt and England and was Cook County’s first district native health nurse.

“She must have been a very practical woman to be a public health nurse in the Cook County area at that time. She rode miles on horseback every day and worked in difficult and trying conditions.”

Te Papa, ECMOT (East Coast Museum of Technology) will also contribute artefacts to the exhibition.

Ms Wallace said it was important to show the role played by New Zealand nurses and other women during the war.

The services of New Zealand nurses were originally declined predicated on the belief that British nurses would prove sufficient.

The unprecedented scale of suffering and death in World War 1 quickly ended that delusion.

The authorities came to understand New Zealand soldiers were best cared for by New Zealand nurses, Ms Wallace said.

Recovery: Women’s Overseas Service in World War 1. The exhibition and book of the same title will be launched at Tairawhiti Museum on March 24.

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