HONOURED World War I nursing sister Eulalie Margaret Hamersley lived quietly in Kalamunda for many years in a tin shed on the small orchard she inherited from her mother.
The courageous daughter of one of the earliest pioneering families of WA served on the frontline in Palestine and also in Egypt and France. She died aged 93 in 1980.
Her niece, Eileen Mounsey, has many fond memories of her plucky aunt.
‘Aunt Eulalee (as we pronounced her name, spelt Eulalia in the history books) was awarded medals for bravery: two Oak Leaves and the Croix de Guerre in France. She was also Mentioned in Despatches,’ Mrs Mounsey said.
‘The French award was presented to her for bravery above and beyond duty because she climbed along the outside of a Red Cross train to give aid to wounded soldiers on the guard carriage.
‘Her British commanding officer did not allow her (to take) leave to accept the French award and as her grandmother was French she saw it as an affront.
‘In true Australian spirit, she took a ‘sickie’ and went to the presentation.’
The feisty nurse, originally from Greenough, returned to her ward to show her trophy to the wounded soldiers, asking them to sign her autograph book.
Mrs Mounsey said her aunt then placed the award and her autograph book in a locker at a station somewhere in France.
More than 50 years later when the locker was opened, her belongings were sent to her father’s address in Greenough.
When the war ended, Eulalie nursed in Belgium for a year before returning home to work in many country hospitals in WA before taking up one of the first posts at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth.
She was never to marry and some members of her family believe she lost her heart to a soldier who died in battle.
‘She never missed an Anzac Day and when she could no longer wear her uniform, I would make her a special dress to wear. She was then in her 80s,’ Mrs Mounsey said.
‘Three of her brothers served at Gallipoli’