On Service Voices – Monday 02.12.19 from 6 to 7pm Adelaide Time (or listen again any time after 7pm)
DEBBIE ROBSON: The SWH and the Aussie women who served in it.
This month 102 years ago, a British female doctor called Elsie Inglis died. Elsie was almost 50 years old when World War One was declared. She offered her medical skills to the War Office, and was resoundingly rejected with the words, “My good lady, go home and sit still.”
Sitting still at home had never been one of Elsie’s strengths. She contacted the Scottish Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies with the intention of forming independent medical units staffed by women, in order to support Allied troops where they were needed most. She was able to establish the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service (the SWH), and they sent medical teams to Belgium, France, Serbia and Russia. Many Australian women served in these units. They saved countless lives during WW1 and alleviated untold suffering. Today Debbie Robson brings us the story of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, and some of the Australians who served in them.
Please tune in and I hope you enjoy hearing about these marvellous women.
Last weekend I walked Narrabeen Beach for the first time in over twenty years. It was a time to reflect on my life during that period and also to remember the poem I wrote back then. So much has happened but the beach is still pretty much as I remembered it from the 90s and I find that the poem is still true to the person I am now. Comforting somehow.
It seems the green coastal stabilisation scheme has done it’s job.
The poem was originally published in the Poetry at the Pub Anthology for 1998 – Untitled. I hope you enjoy it.
This is my beach and has been for a long time.
Beach Boys song aside and the surfers –
I’ve never waited for one of them to come
ashore yet they rock out there, astraddle,
patient as the wheeling gulls. But for me
history’s important. I need the whole story.
I need an old codger, sand ingrained
on his back from thousands of summers.
I remember when, he’ll say. Although Bondi
has the famous rescue of ’38 to tell, he must
have some memories worth hearing. Right now
I’ll seek him out. Right now in the yellow
fibro house with the turquoise window sills
two doors down. No, that’s a young couple
renovating. He’s in the units in Malcolm
Street and can’t recall a think, not even
the Sixties when it used to take forever
to walk from lake to beach or so it seemed
to me. That hill of sand has since eroded
into a green coastal stabilisation scheme.
The daisies flower amongst sober realisations
that the sand is washing away with everything
else – the long walk to the other side,
the lone surfer, the old codger years younger
telling stories of the first boat crew.