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What happened to Emily Jackson?

What happened to Emily Jackson?

Ensign Emily Jackson, who served in Bombay with the Australian Army Nursing Service.

By Lauren Martin

In researching the history of Salvation Army nurses in the Australian Army Nursing Service, Salvationist author Dennis Garland has stumbled upon a mystery.

While “Fighting Mac” and Simpson and his donkey are well-known World War One heroes, Dennis has found very few Salvationists, let alone members of the general public, who are aware of a unique band of Salvation Army officer women who served in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS).

Those women were seven Australian Salvation Army officer/nurses – Ensigns Georgina Collins, Olive May Eggleston, Jane Gant, Isabel Henderson, Mildred Ellen Lawrence, Alice May Toft and Emily Jackson.

Uniquely, while remaining officer/nurses of The Salvation Army, they also served as nurses in the AANS. It appears that no other religious order contributed nurses in this way to this arm of the Australian Army Medical Corps.

The story of the seven will come to light in due course, in a book being written by Dennis. However, it may well need be classified within the “mystery” genre due the apparent disappearance of one of the nurses.

Ensign Emily Jackson entered the Melbourne Training Home at the age of 32 on 3 March 1910, from Prahran Corps, and was appointed to The Salvation Army’s Bethesda Hospital in Melbourne on 9 January 1911.

She enlisted in the AANS on 7 December 1916. Emily was 38 when she enlisted and was the oldest of the seven Salvation Army Officer/Nurses with the AANS.

Interestingly, while the other six ensigns moved around during their time with the service, all of Emily’s service was in India. She was posted by the AANS to Bombay, arriving on 15 January 1917, and was immediately assigned to the Cumballa War Hospital, Bombay.

On 9 February 1917, she was transferred to the Alexandra War Hospital, Bombay, then on 20 July she was posted to the Victoria War Hospital, Bombay.

On 10 July 1918, Emily was admitted to hospital, and because of her illness was repatriated to Australia on 18 August 1918.

She was discharged medically unfit from the AANS on 4 December 1918, having served just two and a half years.

Emily resigned her commission in The Salvation Army just over a month later, on 22 September 1918. After this, Emily seems to vanish from history.

What happened to her after the war? No one seems to know.

Unfortunately, in Colonel John Bond’s book, The Army That Went With The Boys, Emily Jackson is omitted. This even though he includes Letitia Moreton, a non-Salvationist nurse who trained at Bethesda in Melbourne.

In his research, Dennis has spoken with Melbourne University Academic, Dr Kirsty Harris, who revealed she has discovered that Emily had travelled to England in 1939. As yet, Dennis is unable to find out what she was doing between her discharge and the travel to England.

“Emily remains an enigma,” says Dennis, “and for an historian an infuriating one at that.” Anyone with information about Emily Jackson, or any of the nurses mentioned, is asked to contact Dennis Garland at dennisg@bigpond.net.au

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