Sadie’s story

Sarah ‘Sadie’ McINTOSH, 1885-1970

Sister AANS
3rd Australian General Hospital

Sarah McIntosh, always known as Sadie, was born in 1885 in the Little River area of Victoria to pioneering parents, Duncan McIntosh and Helen [nee Baxter] who were farmers, and was one of eleven children.

A lovely photo of Sadie McIntosh taken in September 1913

Sadie completed her 3 years training at the Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum from 1910 – 1913 and worked as a Sister-in-Charge for 2 years prior to enlisting in October 1915 at age 27, as her cousin Kit McNaughton had done before her.

She left Australia in November 1915 for Egypt aboard ‘Orsova and reported for duty at No.1 AGH at Heliopolis. While in Egypt she also worked at the Choubra Infectious Diseases Hospital, seven miles out of Cairo, nursing serious enteric fever and dysentery cases evacuated from the Gallipoli Peninsula.

In August 1916 Sadie was posted to a temporary position at 3 AGH Abbassia serving allied forces fighting the Turkish Army in Sinai and Palestine.  In October 1916 she sailed with 3AGH to England where, set up as the ‘Kitchener War Hospital’ in Brighton, they dealt with the heavy casualty rate from the Somme offensive.

In May when intensive German U-boat activity in the English Channel determined a decision that casualties would not be unnecessarily evacuated from France, Sadie’s unit proceeded to France to join the British Expeditionary Force based at Abbeville. She remained in France for 2 years.

During the German offensive of 1918, 3AGH was in effect a casualty clearing station, receiving wounded directly from the front as fighting moved closer and at times the hospital itself came under fire.

Although Armistice was signed in November 1918 the nurses worked on as the Spanish Flu epidemic had arrived in October.

3 AGH was the final evacuation center for nurses in France, continuing to operate until May 1919.

Following Armistice, Sadie [like many others] took advantage of leave owing and traveled to the South of France, Lourdes and Paris.

She also took leave from duty in May 1919 under the AIF education and pre-repatriation scheme in England, to complete a 3-month course at the Municipal School of Cookery, Bristol.

She finally returned home to Australia aboard the ‘Wahehe’ in December 1919, almost 4 years to the day since she had departed.

Her appointment with the AIF was terminated on April 13, 1920

Like the majority of WW1 nurses, Sadie did not marry and took private nursing engagements, supplemented by a small income from the family property. She travelled to Honolulu and to visit her sister in New Zealand, lived at times in St Kilda with her sister Nell, and then as she got older, at the Retired Army Nurses Home, St Kilda House.

Sadie died in 1970 at the age of 85 and is buried at the Rothwell Cemetery, Little River.

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