Nurse Norma Mowbray honoured in Bundaberg


Former Bundaberg woman Norma Violet Mowbray today had her name added to the Bundaberg War Nurses Memorial 103 years after she died in Egypt.

Nurse Norma Mowbray
Sister Norma Violet Mowbray had her name added to the Bundaberg Region War Nurses war memorial.

Norma was born at St George in 1883 and attended Mrs Boyle's High School for Girls in Bundaberg. She was a daughter of Mr T Mowbray, a former Police Magistrate for Bundaberg.

She received her training at the Brisbane General Hospital and was later appointed matron of the Charleville Hospital.

Nurse Norma Mowbray was among the first 12 sisters and nine staff nurses appointed to the No 1 Australian General Hospital in 1914.

The Brisbane Courier reported her passing:

A very wide circle of friends will learn with deep regret of the death of Miss Norma Mowbray (second eldest daughter of the late Mr John [sic Thomas] Mowbray and Mrs Mowbray, Albion), which occurred on January 19, at Heliopolis, Egypt, after a brief illness.

Nurse Mowbray was one of the first noble girls who offered their services for the Front, and she left Brlsbane on November 21, 1914, and was stationed at the 1st Australian Hospital, Heliopolis, until October 1, 1915, when she returned to Brisbane to visit her mother and sister in consequence of the death of her brother-in-law, Dr. Guy Luther, who, it will be remembered, was killed at the Dardanelles.

The late Nurse Norma Mowbray returned to Queensland on a transport ship, on duty, having come over with a number of wounded and invalided Australians. She also returned by transport again, being on duty. She had only arrived at Heliopolis a few weeks, when she contracted bronchitis.

Mrs Mowbray received an offical cable on January 17 stating that Nurse Mowbray was suffering from an attack of mild bronchitis, and in reply to a cable sent by her the following day she received a second cable stating that her daughter had died from pneumonia on the 19th instant. Nurse Mowbray was very popular amongst her fellow workers, and her unselfish nature had endeared her to a large circle of friends, who will sincerely mourn her death, and who will extend their warmest sympathy both to her mother and her sisters.

She received her training in the Brisbane General Hospital, and later she was a charge nurse at Warwick, whence she went to Charleville as matron of the local hospital. At the time of offering her services to her country she was private nursing in Brisbane, and was one of the most successful nurses in the profession, but her wish to help in alleviating the sufferings of others at the Front made her put her career on one side, and offered the extreme sacrifice.”

Grave of Sister Norma Violet Mowbray
The grave of Sister Norma Violet Mowbray in Egypt.

According to the Virtual War Memorial Australia, Norma's sacrifice was acknowledged as early as 1917, when Brisbane's then St Luke's Church unveiled a nurses honour board in their war chapel.

In 1924, Nurse Norma Mowbray, was one of the 48 names included on the St Andrew's lychgate memorial, dedicated in memory of members from the Lutwyche parish who had fallen in World War One.

Memorials were not limited to Brisbane. Norma was included on the Roll of Honour unveiled in 1925 at the rededication of the York Minster's, Five Sisters Window, in England. This was also the same year the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, in London, proposed the building of a Memorial Nurses' Home, as a memorial to members of the overseas nursing services who gave their lives in the war.

Today she has been recognised in Bundaberg where she grew up and attended school.

Our thanks to Bundaberg — Our History for sharing this story.

Today Sr Norma Mowbray’s name was added to the War Nurses Memorial in Bundaberg, 103 years after she died in Heliopolis. #AnzacsofBbgLest we forget.

Posted by Bundaberg – Our History. on Wednesday, April 24, 2019