10th July 2022

Boer War Nursing Contingents: Part 1

New South Wales Army Nursing Service Reserve

After early defeats in South Africa, opposition to the deployment of nurses to South Africa waned with the realities of need for care for sick and injured soldiers. The Royal family also lent their support for the nurses’ efforts.

“Australian women made history when a detachment of nurses was organised and sent to South Africa to tend the wounded. Such a move was a victory in women’s fight for equality and recognition of their rights. Illustrated is one of these brave nurses who carried on the wonderful traditions of Florence Nightingale.”

Australian War memorial. Group portrait c.1900 of members of the New South Wales Army Nursing Service Reserve (NSWANSR) who served at the South African War with the New South Wales Army Medical Corps (NSWAMC). This reserve group was established in 1898. They were the only military nursing group in existence at the outbreak of the war.

As the only pre-existing reserve, the NSW contingent of nurses were the first official group to leave for South Africa on 17th January 1900 as members of the NSW Medical Corps. As such, the button clearly seen on their belts, cuffs and shirt fronts would have been that of the NSW Military Forces. The costumes were of dark gray serge with a 3/4 length red cape, a muslin cap and a bonnet for outdoor wear.

The Age (Melbourne), 20th January 1900 page 9.

Critic (Adelaide), 3rd February 1900 page 13. A dismissive attitude from a journalist safely at home.

Australian War Memorial. 1902 portrait of three nurses of the NSW Army Medical Corps with souvenirs of their time in South Africa. On the left is Sister Gould, the “lady superintendent” of the NSW nurses.

Western Mail (Perth), 24th February 1900 page 28. 

Australian War Memorial. c 1901. Informal portrait of nurses and men of the NSW Army Medical Corps.


The Australian Star (Sydney), 12th August 1902 page 5.














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