This small ‘clock’ was a gift that was given to Sister Olivia Lowrey for the care and kindness shown to her patients. It is an inscribed fob watch that has been mounted in a simple homemade timber frame.
Olivia Lowrey worked at Wharncliffe War Hospital on the outskirts of Sheffield, England. The hospital was formerly the Wadsley Asylum, whose patients were relocated to make way for military casualties in early 1915. With over 2000 beds, it was unlike any hospital that Olivia had encountered before joining the Queen Alexandria Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. Staff at the hospital treated more than 37,000 casualties before it closed in July 1920.
After almost three years at Wharncliffe, Olivia was transferred to Rouen, France, in August 1918 before returning to Australia in May 1919. Her service record has a report from Matron Roscoe, No. 8 General Hospital:
A good, conscientious medical and surgical nurse and a capable ward manager. She is observant, punctual in the discharge of her duties and kind to the patients. She maintains good discipline and shews ability in instructing and managing the orderlies ... Suitable for promotion in due course.
Olivia and her nine siblings were from a farming family at Stroud in the Hunter Valley, brought up to apply themselves to their work and studies, and to be independent – traits that would stand her and two of her sisters in good stead when nurses were being sought to work overseas.
Her sisters Bessie and Hazel served in India for most of the war. Bessie returned home in March 1919 but Hazel went on to work in Egypt and England before returning three months later. A fourth sister, Joyce, enlisted but did not serve overseas.
The Lowrey sisters were remembered by family members as ‘very independent types – great women’.
All four sisters pursued their nursing careers after the war and went on to be matrons of hospitals – Olivia at Scone, Bessie at Wallsend, Hazel at Deniliquin and Joyce at Glen Innes.
Service Record for Sister Olivia Lowrey, QAIMNS Reserves, National Archives, Kew (UK), WO/399/5019
Sister Olivia Ann Lowrey: http://www.wharncliffewarhospital.co.uk/Nurses/Lowery_OA.html
Service Record for Sister Bessie Lowrey: http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=8212171
Service Record for Sister Violet Hazel Lowrey: http://recordsearcEngh.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=11614804
Stroud Historical Society – Court House Museum
61 Cowper Street
Stroud NSW 2425
Phone: 02 4995 5400