Alice (Alys) Ross-King ( 1887- 1968 )

Prior to WW1 Alice became a qualified nurse becoming a theatre sister and acting Matron in a Private Hospital in Melbourne. In 1914 she enlisted as a staff nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service, Australian Imperial Force, where she hyphenated her name so as not to become confused with another Alice King.

During 1915 Alice served in hospitals and hospital ships in Egypt and the Suez caring for soldiers from the Gallipoli campaign. In early 1916 she transferred to France where she served with No. 1 Australian General Hospital at Rouen in a stationary hospital taking care of soldiers who had served at the Somme before joining No. 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station (2CCS), located close to the trenches near Armentières.

Ross-King had only been at the hospital for five days when it was bombed on the night of 22 July 1917. Four men were killed in the bombing and 15 others injured. Ross-King who was just finishing a shift returned to the wards and continued to care for the patients in the ward despite the fact that the canvas tents had collapsed on top of her and the casualties. Alice and the other nurses were described as busy “either carrying patients to safety or placing tables over their beds in an effort to protect them.” Alice and three other nurses were awarded the Military Medal for their actions during the attack. Ross-King was one of only seven nurses of the A.A.N.S. to be awarded the Military Medal during World War I.

Alice had become engaged to an AIF officer who was killed at Fromelles in July 1916. However, on her voyage home in early 1919 she met Dr Sydney Appleford who she married. They settled in Lang Lang, Victoria where they raised four children.

She helped Sydney with his practice at the same time training young women as members of the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) who helped out on troop trains, canteens and Red Cross convalescent homes. With the outbreak of WW2 Alice enlisted into the VAD and when in 1942 that morphed into the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service (AAMWS) Alice was commissioned with the rank of major and appointed senior assistant controller for Victoria responsible for all AAMWS in the state of Victoria.

In 1949 Alice was awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal and in 1951 she resigned from the Army.

The Alice Appleford Memorial Award is presented annually to a non commissioned serving member of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps by the Ex-A.A.W.M.S. Association to perpetuate her memory.
Peter Rees book “ANZAC Girls” is the story of many courageous nurses from World War 1 taken from diaries and other historical documents held by the Australian War Memorial. It was made into a television series of the same name by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The endeavours of Alice Ross-King are just one of the many highlighted. A five star read.

Celebrating the women from our past to the present who have helped shape Australia.


This time next week, on the 25th of April, Australians and New Zealanders will commemorate ANZAC Day.

The Ode of Remembrance has been recited to commemorate wartime service and sacrifice since 1921. The Ode is the 4th stanza of the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon.

In 1919, Binyon’s poem was selected to accompany the unveiling of the London Cenotaph and was adopted as a memorial tradition by many Commonwealth nations. The poem was read at the laying of the Inauguration Stone at the Australian War Memorial in 1929.

Ode of Remembrance

They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
We will remember them.


We will remember them
Lest we forget

At this time it is important to remember all the woman who have served or who are serving in the Defence Forces in the many varied roles. We remember our nurses, doctors, and VADs, as well as the women who worked on the land ensuring the nation remained fed. Of equal importance are all the mothers, wives, sisters and sweethearts, who “kept the home fires burning……”.

Celebrating the women from our past to the present who have helped shape Australia.

Another Project Giving Life To History

Research undertaken by Australian historians John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher for their book, Untraceables – The Mystery of the Forgotten Diggers has led to an interesting pilot project adopted earlier this year by sixteen Primary Schools across the nation.

The historians created The Find Them, Remember Them: Creating Citizen Historians pilot program to establish Living Memorials to the Fallen by creating Citizen Historians of school children.

According to the authors “during WWI, 60 000 Australian soldiers died.  The issuing of medals to fallen soldiers was governed by the Deceased Soldiers Act 1918.  The intent of the act as proposed by the Minister for Defence was to honour the wishes of the deceased soldier with all war medals to go to either their next of kin or will legatee.  However, an ascension list (not contained in the Act) was adopted when settling intestate estates.  The dogged application of this list denied many female next of kin and the deceased soldier’s nominated next of kin, the right to receive their loved one’s medals creating an archive of uncollected medals.”

There is some controversy that unissued medals from WWI veterans, soldiers who fought and died for this country,  and their individual military heritage,  were archived around 1998, and their location is unknown and denied by the Directorate of Defence Honours & Awards (DH&A). 

The intent of the program is to research the soldier, and have students educate the local community at an appropriate ceremony.  The school will commemorate the sacrifice by their researched soldiers on commemorative occasions such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day in an endeavour to keep their memory “alive”.

If eligible descendants are located from the pupil’s research they will be able to apply for custodianship of ( replacement) medals. If no descendants are located then the school can apply for the medals with the soldier thereby being “adopted” by that community.

A much better lesson in history than the old chalk-on-blackboard method, don’t you agree?

It can well be said the Anzac’s are not dead, their deeds and fame will live for evermore.  Australia’s duty to her dead may be expressed in four words- ‘Don’t let them die’!  Their memory should never be allowed to die.” Parramatta Mayor, Ald.

40 years on : Gallipoli, the movie.

It’s the 40th Anniversary of the release of the Australian movie, Gallipoli. A restored, digitalised version has been doing the rounds at selected cinemas over the past few days to coincide with ANZAC Day.

Gallipoli comes across as a light little movie that examines the brutality of war and the heroic sacrifices made by the ANZACS. It looks at mateship and heroism ( and personal opinion: stupidity), and provides an insight into the lasting impact of the ANZAC story. Makes it not so light and fluffy, hey.*

The movie won eight Australian Film Institute Awards including Best Film and Best Director, and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 1982 Golden Globe Awards.

Gallipoli starred two young Aussie actors : shy, blond Mark Lee, and confident, dark Mel Gibson, as well as beautiful rural Western Australian vistas. I was always a fan of the quiet Mark Lee and it wasn’t until Braveheart days that I switched camps.

The Yanks don’t like Mad Mel apparently. Yes, he’s been a dipstick and certainly earned his nickname. But you know what ? He’s not been dealing drugs, using the casting couch to win young girls, has never been involved with paedophilia nor incest, nor murdered anyone. He’s guilty of being abrasive, brash, a loud mouth, lacking cultural sensitivities, and has a tendency to call a spade a shovel. Just a typical Aussie lad. Sheesh, I wonder how some of you lot would cope at a Sunday Sesh…..

For some reason, Americans aren’t offended by Gayle King. Or is it not allowed to be offended by Gayle King. I don’t get that at all. “ What did Prince Phillip die of?” she asked. For God’s sake, how does this flip keep her job? And they think Mel Gibson is whacko….

Although Mad Mel hits the media regularly, Mark Lee has remained very unassuming. Read a write up in the weekend rag. Must say, he’s looking mighty F-I-N-E.

Courtesy Courier Mail 24/4/21

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the movie it’s worth chasing up. Two performers at the beginning of their game telling a story about the too many young lives totally wasted, the too many shattered families. For a little film I remember coming out of the cinema the first time I saw it so full of anger and anti British. Of course, those were the days when I was young, fresh faced and an idealist. I’m too scared to revisit this movie 40 years later – the apoplexy might not be good for the health.

Hang in there, Mel. Hold. Hold. Hold the line.

*Today’s lesson in Queensland-speak , and yes, our lingo changes from state to state. Qlders tend to put hey at the end of sentences. After 25 years living here I’m afraid it is starting to stick. Then I hear my father’s voice in my head admonishing me with “ makes the bull fat”.

Books For Little Queenslanders

First 5 Forever is a family literacy program delivered by public libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) with the primary aim of providing strong early literacy foundations for all Queensland children aged 0-5 years. 

In the first five years of life a human brain develops at its fastest. Family life and early experiences are important for healthy brain growth. Research shows that simple things like talking, reading, singing and playing with children from birth have positive impacts that last a lifetime and this has flow on benefits for the whole community. 

The First 5 Forever program at my local Library includes a weekly indoor session for mums and bubs as well as library staff meeting at local parks and nature reserves and running these sessions from picnic rugs. I am so looking forward to taking Harry Kilom in a few weeks time to one of these:)

As part of the First 5 Forever program The State Library of Queensland recently published 12 books under the umbrella of The Stories For Little Queenslanders series.

One of the titles, The Cow That Swam Out To Sea, will resonate with anyone who remembers the 2011 floods in South East Queensland, and particularly the story about the cow that fell in the river at Lowood in the Lockyer Valley that floated down the Brisbane River. A true story, the cow was rescued 95 kilometres out in Moreton Bay, cold, wet and hungry.

I have so many mixed memories of the Brisbane floods. The one that never fades is that of catching one of the last trains out of Brisbane City with some work colleagues just before the transport system was shut down. Packed in like sardines with every square inch filled with people of all shapes and sizes I vividly remember hanging on whilst being squished up close and personnel next to a young man with his pet python hanging off his shoulders. I didn’t dare blink nor move. I have no recollection of even breathing for 16 train station stops.

Talking of Little People I put these in the Little Community Library in the local park today.


ANZAC Day next Sunday, on the 25th April, commemorating the fiasco at Gallipoli in 1915 during World War 1. As with last year many Dawn Services across the country have been cancelled due to COVID and instead we will be again gathering on our front lawns and balconies at 6am to listen to the Last Post wafting across the suburbs. In all honesty, I hope this becomes a tradition as it a moving experience connecting with community and allows all to participate.

In preparation for ANZAC Day this week I sold passionfruit and basil seedlings that I’ve been mollycoddling to raise funds for my favourite charity to assist our veterans. I’ll also be sleeping out in the back garden one night as a fundraiser for Wounded Heroes. Nationally, over 5,000 vets sleep rough on any one night so as a learning tool for families I’ll support this event by sleeping al fresco. (Umm, with a bottle of red).

Read this book – what an eye opener!

Firstly, it wasn’t until the 1880’s that the first Australian woman was allowed to study Medicine at University in her own country, so at the outbreak of  World War 1  the army refused to appoint female doctors. So what did these magnificent women Doctors do? Some raised their own funds to start field hospitals in France, many went to England to join the Royal Army Medical Corps, and one woman was the first female to be awarded the Military Medal. They performed all sorts of surgery and most of them continued being trailblazers at wars end, such as adding wings to city hospitals, in areas of research, leaving legacies for the training of future women medics and continuing to practise all around the world.

During the week I’ll prepare Rosemary cuttings to leave at the Little Community Library with a small note explaining its significance for the Little People and I am looking forward to catching up with a friend who has more passionfruit vines to sell.

For those who need an explanation as to the meaning of our ANZAC Day a couple of snapshots. First, crocheted by a ninety year old woman in a Retirement Village in Victoria. Says it all really.

And then this one:

A Different ANZAC Day

Today’s ANZAC Day Dawn Service has been a very different one with self isolation the order of the day. No gatherings at local Cenotaphs, no Gunpowder breakfasts, no soldiers marching proudly along the high street with their service medals on their chest.

This morning we took to our driveways and balconies together listening to the service on our devices from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, together listening to the Ode, the bugles playing across the suburbs. Together we said Lest We Forget.

Despite the social distancing there have been aspects of this ANZAC Day that have made it special. Different though special.

Teddy Bears in windows were accompanied by red poppies crafted by Little People as part of homeschooling. There was evidence of poppies tied to letterboxes and one front garden was a sea of poppies made from red plastic plates. Not solemn perhaps but a simple lesson in how to pass on our history.

Last night I participated in an online clay poppy candle holder class and slept under the stars in the back yard as a fundraiser for Wounded Heroes who at a grassroots level assist our most marginalised exservice personnel and their families.

The local Museum has not only shared the history of our early pioneers who went to War, but also recipes that were favourites in days such as ANZAC Biscuits and Damper On A Stick which I’ll be having with barbeque.

Stories shared online have been numerous with so many causing a tear in the eye. The 100 year old Kokoda Track Digger who has never missed an Anzac Day being given a personal drive by in a WW2 jeep, the Changi Concert Band pianist who at 98 played alongside a professional brass band at his nursing home, and Captain Tom Murray. Captain Murray who not only raised millions to assist battling Brits, and who received a letter of thanks from 104 year old Vera Lynn. Pass me the tissues, will you please.

There seems to have been so much more this ANZAC Day – or maybe we’ve just had more time to listen. There have been concerts streamed, there has been poetry and artwork shared, there has been so much connectedness involved.

For those who have gone before us, and for those who follow : Lest We Forget.


Dawn Services across Australia have been cancelled due to the current worldwide health situation.

ANZAC Day, April 25th, commemorates the campaign by Australian, New Zealand and other Allied troops in 1915 to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. The Dawn Service forms a major part of this day with thousands gathering in the early hours – the time of the original Gallipoli landing – at memorials across the country to remember those who have served, or whom are serving, for the protection of our nation.

The Dawn Service, regardless of the number of attendees or whether being held in a small, rural township or at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, is a moving ceremony. Interestingly, in spite of the passing years the Dawn Service is gaining in popularity.

This year is a strange one. Droughts, Bushfires, Floods and…. everything else.

The son of a Vietnam Veteran recently put it out there that Australians could still attend a Dawn Service despite the fact that we’re all in social distance mode. It’s a concept that has gained momentum and now acceptance by the Returned Services League.

At 5:55am this Anzac Day Australians will be coming together to meet the new day, lighted candle in hand, on the footpaths outside their homes, or on their balconies. The Last Post will come across the radio.

Cop that Covid-19. We ain’t broke yet!


A little activity to keep the Little People (and myself) occupied :

Villers-Bretonneux, #kindjuly and nuts.

I’ve just booked into an Author-In-Action presentation at the local Library. Can’t wait to learn more about Vicki Bennett’s children’s book, Two Pennies.

In April, 1918 the village of Villers-Bretonneux in France was the scene of the world’s first tank battle between British and German troops which the Germans would win, occupying the township.

The Ecole de Garcons (Boys School) was destroyed along with much of the town on the 25th April 1918 when the Australian 13th and 15th Brigades recaptured it from the Germans in a battle in which over 1,200 Australian soldiers were killed.

The school was rebuilt with donations from Australia. School children and their teachers helped the effort by asking for pennies- in what became known as the Penny Drive -while the Victorian Department of Education contributed 12,000 pounds to the War Relief Fund. The school was appropriately renamed ‘Victoria’. The inauguration of the new school occurred on ANZAC Day in 1927. “N’oublions jamais l’Australie“ (Never forget Australia) is inscribed in the school hall.

The Rugrats have just returned to school after a fortnight of holidays here in Queensland.

The Little Community Library proved a huge success with the generous addition of CDs, DVDs and books for the older kiddies to ease them through the break.

A fellow Little Library Custodian shared with me that it was #kindjuly. Did you know this? (Marketing gurus: aren’t they precious…..)

Kind July – Stay Kind
If every Australian did one act of kindness a day for the month of July, that would be 775 million acts of kindness in Kind July (and 9.3 billion acts of kindness every year).

And I’m off for a dose of Community Theatre tonight : My Husbands Nuts. Honestly, I’m too intimidated to add an apostrophe in case I get it wrong.

Happy Trails:)

Answering The Call and Gilgandra

It’s been a long day, an emotional day, and a girl does have a weakness for sparkling Shiraz. No melancholy, just thoughts.

Memories of a car trip twenty years ago, long buried, come to the surface. I’m not sad – no need to head for the hills. Please stay put.

Pocahontas, my eldest, is school captain. I refuse to allow her to attend the annual school excursion to the Snowy. 7 days on a bus with 60 other kiddies, aged 10 years or under, to spend three hours playing in the snow at Thredbo seems totally ridiculous. It’s not that I’m a helicopter parent. Afterall both my daughters have been travelling the world solo since they they were 18 years of age. But sorry, I’m a mother with a semblance of a brain and discover that for every child from a school in Queensland that visits Canberra 1000 kms away the school receives $100.00 per child. Effectively, this excursion is a fundraiser for the school. ( It’s not the Shiraz that makes me cynical. It has always been thus).

Mo, Pocahontas and Cat Balou

We plan a family holiday to coincide with the school excursion. Best family holiday ever. Country towns full of history. Lots of fun, lots of memories. My girls can tell you where Henry Lawson is buried, where Dorathea McKellar was born, can recite “My Country”, and can tell you about Captain Thunderbolt. Kids are such sponges, aren’t they?

We spend a night in Gilgandra, country NSW. Sheep and wheat country. A sad little town in that it is like thousands of other little country towns that have come to a standstill. It was known as the town with the most windmills back then. We loved it. You know why?

Gilgandra is also known as the “Coo-ee Town”. 

“Cooee!(/ˈkuːiː/) is a shout used in Australia, usually in the bush, to attract attention, find missing people, or indicate one’s own location. When done correctly—loudly and shrilly—a call of “cooee” can carry over a considerable distance.The distance one’s cooee call travels can be a matter of competitive pride. It is also known as a call of help, which can blend in with different natural sounds in the bush.”From Wikipedia

Back in October 1915 two Gilgandra men decide to do something about the declining enlistment for World War 1. A march from Gilgandra to Sydney is undertaken. As the miles pass the number of marchers increases. Three hundred and twenty miles of Australian sun, with little official backup,no radios, phone boxes nor mobile phones. The men rely on the generosity and love of bush folk along the way. 35 men begin the march. 263 men answer the Coo-ee.

So proud of their history this little community, including service organisations, church and school communities, put together a CD of songs reflecting that period of their townships history’s. Yeah, you know I’m a sucker……..

So much history, so many memories. Wait till I share what happened when the school captain refused to wear all white to Graduation.

Lest we Forget.