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Minnie CHAPMAN


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Nurse / Sister QAIMNS (R) 14/4/1889 1914 1920 4

Jemima 'Minnie' Logie Chapman (1889-1971)  

Booklet

Family background and early life

Jemima Logie Chapman, known as 'Minnie' throughout her life, was born on 14 April 1889 at the UP (United Presbyterian) Church Manse, Westray in the Orkney Isles, Scotland.  

Both her parents were born in Scotland; her father (Rev Andrew Chapman) in Dundee and her mother (his second wife, Elizabeth) in Westray, Orkney.   Minnie's paternal grandfather, Andrew Chapman Snr, was a ship's carpenter. 

The Scotland Census of 1871 lists Minnie's father as a Teacher living with his first wife, Mary (nee Sang) and one child, Margaret.  The records show that Andrew obtained a Master of Arts from the University of St Andrews, Scotland before he became a minister of religion.  

Andrew and Mary moved to Orkney and Andrew was listed in Peace's Orkney and Shetland Almanac of 1886 as being the Westray United Presbyterian Church minister from 1876.  Andrew and Mary had five children but sadly Mary passed away in 1877 aged 28 years.   The Chapman children, Margaret 7, Agnes 5, Andrew Jnr 4, Mary 2 years and Edward, a babe, were left motherless and it would have been a great burden for their father to care for them.

The next year, on 21 November 1878, Andrew married Elizabeth Rendall Logie of Westray, Orkney.  Elizabeth's father was a general merchant who owned a store in Pierowall, Westray.

Minnie was the last Chapman child born in Scotland.  When Minnie was one year old, the family moved to Australia. The family consisting of Rev. A. Chapman, Mrs Chapman, Margaret, Agnes, Mary, Edward, Elizabeth, Mary, Peter & Jemima sailed from London aboard the ‘Damascus’, arriving in Sydney on 13 August 1890.   (It appears that Andrew Jnr may have died as he was not registered in the passenger list coming to Australia with the family.)

Nothing more has been uncovered on their time in Australia, until a newspaper announcement of the birth of Andrew and Elizabeth’s last child, Ann ‘Annie’ Robertson Chapman on 12 April 1891.  Annie was born at The Church Manse, Red Hill, Gympie where Andrew was the Presbyterian Minister.

The Chapman family lived in Gympie until 1897 when Minnie’s father resigned as pastor of the Red Hill Presbyterian Church because of Elizabeth’s ill health.  The family moved to Southport but in 1898 tragedy struck again when Minnie’s mother passed away at the age of 45 years.  Minnie was only 9 years old and her youngest sibling only 7.   

Two years later, Andrew accepted a calling to be Minister of the Roma Presbyterian Church.  It appears they stayed in Roma for no more than two years as the 1903 Census shows that Andrew had moved to Brisbane and was living at “Waterford”, Brighton Road, West End.  

Education and Training

Minnie attended the Brisbane South, Girls and Infants School and in December 1902 sat for the State Scholarships and Bursaries Examination along with 158 boys and 67 girls.  The results of the examination were published in the Brisbane Courier of Wednesday 14 January 1903 and it was announced that she was one of nine girls and 27 boys who were successful in winning a scholarship.   

The scholarship entitled the holders to free education at a grammar school, established under the Grammar Schools Act 1860, together with an allowance “not exceeding 39 pounds per annum for a period of three years”.  At the time of the announcement, Minnie’s father was working for the Brisbane City, Dunwich and St Helena Island Mission. 

Subsequently, the Ipswich Girls Grammar School offered Minnie a bursary which she accepted and attended boarding school there until she completed the Junior Examination in 1905.  

Following her schooling, Minnie trained as a nurse at the Brisbane General Hospital.  This was probably an easy decision for Minnie as her older sister, Mary, also trained at the same hospital.

Links to Saint Andrew’s

The 1912 Communion Roll of Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (held in the church’s archives) lists Minnie Chapman as being a communicant member who was and living and working at the Brisbane Hospital as a nurse.  

Sister Minnie Chapman, Sister Jessie O’Neill AANS and Staff Nurse Winifred Sagar AANS are all listed on the Saint Andrew’s Honour Boards.  Minnie and Winifred Sagar also worked at the same CCSs in France, so it is quite possible they knew each other very well.

Enlistment

The Chapman sisters decided to travel to England prior to the outbreak of war, and Minnie and Mary, left Brisbane aboard the ‘Orontes’ on 14 April 1914.  Records show that Minnie Chapman was selected in Australia for service with the Imperial Forces.  After arriving in England, and awaiting appointment, they were asked to join the Imperial Service.  Both then enlisted in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) – QAIMNS (R).  Minnie’s enlistment was recorded as being in Regiment No2/Res C/1068 as a Staff Nurse.  They were considered Australian Personnel as they were selected and dispatched by the Australian Department of Defence.

Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve)

The history of the QAIMNS started some 12 years before the outbreak of World War 1 during a time of relative peace in the British Empire. The Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service replaced the Army Nursing Service (ANS) and the Indian Nursing Service (INS) by royal warrant on the 27 March 1902. It was named in honour of Queen Alexandra. 

By 1914 there were only 297 regular members of the QAIMNS as there were strict rules (governing service numbers) in place at the time.  Like their counterparts in the regular service, these women were educated, of good social standing and had all completed a three year nurse training programme in a hospital approved by the War Office.  They were, with very few exceptions, over 25 years of age and single. 

As the war progressed, a shortage of staff resulted in the restrictions being removed and married women were allowed to serve.  Over 10,000 qualified nurses joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNS[R]).  Women were engaged on yearly contracts or until their services were no longer required, and most had been demobilized by the end of 1919, to return to civilian life.  The nurses in the regular QAIMNS and reserve served in countries such as France, India, East Africa, Italy, Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Salonika and Russia.  

Minnie’s service - 1915, 1916 and 1917

Minnie served in the No 1 Australian Auxillary Hospital (1AAH) in Harefield, England for a time before being transferred to the No 3 British General Hospital (3BGH) in France in June 1915.  

Her service posts were many and varied and December 1915 saw her working on the No 8 Ambulance Train.  (There is a photo - which appeared in the Sydney Mail of Wednesday 23 August 1916 - in the gallery of her with staff on the No 8 Ambulance Train.)

In April 1916 Minnie was posted to the No 8 British Stationary Hospital (BSH) and again she joined an Ambulance Train.   She served with the No 4 British General Hospital from January to October 1917 in France.

Ambulance trains

The ‘standard’ ambulance train consisted of 16 cars, including ward cars, a pharmacy car, which stored medicines, two kitchens, a personnel car and a brake and stores van. Each ward car contained 36 beds in tiers of three (the ‘home’ ambulance train had tiers of two). Apart from feeding casualties and staff, the kitchens could supply 50 gallons of hot water at any time. The train generated its own electricity for lighting and powering overhead fans and all cars were steam heated.

Each train could accommodate about 400 patients both lying and sitting, as well as the Royal Army Medical Corps personnel and the train crew. Boulogne was the principal port of embarkation for the wounded on the Continent, and on one occasion it took only 19 minutes to unload 123 casualties from a train.

The main disembarkation ports in the UK were Dover and Southampton. From February 1915 to February 1919, Dover dealt with 1,260,506 casualties, unloaded 4076 boats and loaded 7781 ambulance trains, which then went off to one of the 196 receiving stations scattered around the UK, including the one in York.

Until the first week of September 1914, no Sisters actually worked on Ambulance Trains.  The Sisters’ posts were at the Railway Stations close to hospitals.  Their duties were to meet all trains bringing the wounded down from the Front, to apply what dressings they could while the train was in the Station and to distribute hot drinks and light food. The very urgent cases were taken off the trains, and sent to the Hospitals nearby.

Around 7 September, it was decided, to trial a Nurse on an Ambulance Train to see if the conditions could be improved for the wounded. Prior to this it had not been considered suitable as some of the trains were composed of old French trucks with straw on the floor and others were French passenger trains.  (These were later converted by the British into Ambulance Trains.)   

The Medical Officer in charge of this journey reported that the services of the Sister on the train were of inestimable value.  Following this, two Nurses were sent on No.7 Ambulance Train from Le Mans to the railhead for the first time on 16 September 1914.  This practice continued with the nurses returning by passenger trains to their units.  They were usually absent for about 42 hours, the journey from Le Mans to St. Nazaire taking about 24 hours. 

In October, No.8 and 9 Ambulance Trains were put into action and staffed with Sisters and, in December, both No 11 and 12 Ambulance Trains were working. Nos.8 and 9 Trains differed from the preceding trains, as they were largely composed of vans, and not passenger coaches. 

The arrangement of the coaches on all the first Ambulance Trains was the same. One half of the train was set apart for what was known as ‘Lying cases’, and each compartment of the coach had four couchettes. In the middle of the train was the Dispensary, the coach for the Staff and the kitchens. The remaining portion of the train was ordinary 2nd or 3rd Class accommodation, where the so-called ‘walking cases’ were taken in.

The insurmountable difficulty with these early trains was the lack of any communication between the coaches. It would have been less difficult if more Sisters were on each train.  With their limited numbers, however, it was necessary for the Sisters (usually carrying a load on their backs) to pass from coach to coach whether the train was in motion or not. This load comprised a bag, as aseptic as possible under the conditions, containing medicine and dressings.  During the night, this chore became even more difficult as they carried hurricane lamps suspended from their arms. 

Moving between carriages while the train was in motion was forbidden by the Train Commanders, but it was reported that Sisters did so frequently.  It was not possible for them to do their duty, knowing that their services were required to deal with dying patients and casualties in many of the train’s carriages..  

There is an interesting photograph in the gallery showing two nurses and their canaries posed by their Ambulance Train in France, during World War I. The canaries were apparently introduced to alleviate the boredom of the patients. 

Duty at the Casualty Clearing Stations - 1918

For most of 1918 Sister Minnie Chapman was closer to the battlefields with her service at the Casualty Clearing Stations.  During this period, many of the CCSs were bombed and constantly under heavy shellfire and the nurses and patients were evacuated and stations re-sited frequently.  

Minnie served from January 1918 to September 1918 at the 46 Casualty Clearing Station (46CCS), 33CCS, 57CCS, 11CCS, 42CCS and 30CCS. 

Some of the locations of these CCSs during the period Minnie served were:  46CCS – Noyon, Quigny, Fillievres, Bac-du-Sud; 33CCS – Haverskerque, Aire, Ligny St Flochel; 57CCS – St Aubin, Aubigny, Mingoval; 11CCS – Godewaersvelde, Blendecques, Moulle; 42CCS – Licheux, Mingoval, Douai; and the 30CCS – St Aubin, Wavrans, Boisleux au Mont, Cambrai.

The 30CCS, along with the 22CCS, was situated in Cambrai, 32 kms south east of Arras.  The 1918 Battle of Cambrai was fought here and was the last of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line.

Casualty Clearing Stations –  (extract from The Long, Long Trail)

The Casualty Clearing Station was part of the casualty evacuation chain, further back from the front line than the Aid Posts and Field Ambulances.  It was manned by troops of the Royal Army Medical Corps, with attached Royal Engineers and men of the Army Service Corps. The job of the CCS was to treat a man sufficiently for his return to duty or, in most cases, to enable him to be evacuated to a Base Hospital. It was not a place for a long-term stay.

CCS's were generally located on or near railway lines, to facilitate movement of casualties from the battlefield and on to the hospitals. Although they were quite large, CCS's moved quite frequently, especially in the wake of the great German attacks in the spring of 1918 and the victorious Allied advance in the summer and autumn of that year. 

Many CCS moved into Belgium and Germany with the army of occupation in 1919 too. The locations of wartime CCSs can often be identified today from the cluster of military cemeteries that surrounded them.

After serving at the 30 CCS in September 1918, Minnie moved to serve in Belgium.  In May 1919 she returned to England and served at Kitchener’s Hospital in Brighton.  She was discharged from duty in Brighton in 1919.   

Kitchener’s Hospital, Brighton

The Kitchener Hospital was the largest of Brighton’s First World War military hospitals. It housed around 2000 patients, and first opened in February 1915 as a hospital for Indian soldiers. Until the outbreak of war, the Kitchener had been Brighton’s main workhouse. After the war, it returned to use as a workhouse until 1930, when it became the Brighton Municipal Hospital. It has remained a hospital until this day, although it is now known as Brighton General Hospital. The numbering system used for the various blocks in the hospital dates back to its first use as an Indian hospital.

Return to Australia

Sister Minnie Chapman departed from Tilbury on 6 March 1920, aboard the SS Orvieto  bound for Brisbane.  

Awards

Minnie’s service record shows that she served in France, Belgium and England.  She received the 1914-1915 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  

Marriage

Minnie Chapman married Lieutenant ‘Roy’ Wilkinson  (Robert John Wilkinson) a Chemist late of Charters Towers on 29 January 1921.  The ceremony took place at the drawing room of the residence of Mrs J Stitt, Albion.  Rev George Ewan officiated and Minnie was given away by her brother Capt Peter Chapman of Sydney (who had served with the Seaforth Highlanders).  Her husband’s sister, Maisie Wilkinson, was the only bridesmaid.

Minnie and Roy lived at Ekibin Road, Annerley but Roy passed away in 1927.  

Passing

Minnie lived at the Annerley home until her death which is recorded as 9 September 1971.  She has a memorial plaque at the Mt Thompson Crematorium, Brisbane which shows the date of death as 15 September 1971.


Select bibliography
• Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service QAIMNS - http://www.qaranc.co.uk/qaimns.php
• Lewis, Stephen - Trains that put First World War wounded on track. York Press: Friday 6 Dec 2013 - www.yorkpress.co.uk 
• Brighton Museum – Photographs of the Kitchener Hospital
• The work of the Nursing service with the British Ambulance trains and station units in France.  British National Archives W0222/2134, and information on CCS.  Sourced from www.scarletfinders.co.uk 
• 30 Casualty Clearing Stations information - http://www.ww1cemeteries.com/ww1frenchcemeteries/cambraieast.htm
• 46 CCS information - http://www.ourstory.info/library/2-ww1/Cushing/journal11.html 
• The Long, Long Trail, Information on Casualty Clearing Stations - http://www.1914-1918.net/ccs.htm
• The National Library of Scotland – Photograph of Ambulance Train – Canaries who live aboard Ambulance Train to cheer wounded with song.
• Trove – National Library of Australia – Digital newspapers: Townsville Daily Bulletin, Wed 2 February 1921 Page 6; Sydney Mail, Wed 23 August 1916 Page 21
• (British) National Railway Museum blog: Coming home from the front line – wartime ambulance train travel.
• Photo of Ipswich Girls Grammar school C1892: Source - Williams, Lesley M, A Pioneer not a Traditionalist: the Life and Work of Dr Eleanor Greenham; Address 1 February 1992, Centenary of Ipswich Girls' Grammar School.  Photo courtesy of the Headmistress Mrs J Hill.
• Mackenzie, Marion Elizabeth: Promising lives: First placegetters in the Queensland Scholarship examination 1873-1962, A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland in December 2006.
• www.thenursingbible.com
• ancestry.com Electoral Rolls 1925-1926, 1928, 1929, 1934, 1968. 
• The work of the Nursing service with the British Ambulance trains and Station Units in France – www.scarletfinders.co.uk
• 1912 Communion Roll St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church Archive.
• State Library of Queensland, John Oxley Library
• Australian War Museum

Compiled and written by Miriam King  April 2016

 

 

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