Rose Ann Creal

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Image courtesy Australian War Memorial

CREAL, Rose Ann

Service no: Matron [1]

Place of birth: Young, 3 November 1865

Address: Sydney Hospital, Macquarie Street, Sydney

Occupation: Trained nurse

Next of kin: Elizabeth F. (Bessie) Creal (sister), c/- Miss Tuckey, Anson Street, Orange

Date of enlistment: 14 August 1916

Place of enlistment: Young

Age at enlistment: 49

Fate: Embarked HMAT A63 Karoola Melbourne 19 August 1916. Disembarked Suez 20 September 1916. Appointed matron of 14th Australian General Hospital, Abbassia, 23 August 1916 Awarded Royal Red Cross, 1st class, 1 January 1919. Embarked at Port Said for UK 23 July 1919. Attended an elocution course and toured hospitals in the UK from 12 August to 31 September 1919. Returned to Australia 12 January 1920.

Date of death: 7 August 1921 from appendicitis

Buried: Waverley Cemetery

Rose Ann Creal was born on 3 November 1865 in Young to Irish-born miner John Creal, and his wife Ann. Young Rose was home-schooled by her father and began work in a small hospital in Parkes aged 16. The matron there realised her potential, describing her as “a diamond of the first water”, and securing her a position at Sydney Hospital. By 1891 Rose had become head nurse, and by the end of the decade she was matron and a founding member and councillor of the Trained Nurses' Association of New South Wales.

Matron Creal enlisted for war service on 14 August 1916, nominating her sister Elizabeth (‘Bessie’) in Orange as her next of kin. She arrived in Suez on 20 September and was appointed matron of the 14th Australian General Hospital at Abbassia, Egypt.

Conditions at Abbassia were primitive and extremely challenging, with casualty rates from the battle of Gaza rising to 1,140 and nurses working 18 hour shifts in an attempt to manage the work load.

In recognition of her efforts Matron Creal was awarded the Royal Red Cross, 1st class, in the 1919 New Year honours. In August and September of that year she completed an elocution course and tour of hospitals in England and Scotland “with a view to becoming conversant in the latest methods employed in these countries… This experience should prove of the utmost value to her in the discharge of her duties as a matron, both as regards administration and lecturing.”

Matron Creal returned to Australia in January 1920 and resumed her position as matron of Sydney Hospital. She died in August the following year following an attack of appendicitis. She was accorded a full military funeral at St James Anglican Church in Sydney on Wednesday 10 August 1921. It was the largest funerals seen in the city for some time, with hundreds of people lining the streets outside the church. Her coffin was mounted on a gun-carriage, draped with the Union Jack, with her nurse's cap on top.

Sydney Hospital established the Rose Creal Medal in her honour; it is the highest award for students of the Lucy Osburn School of Nursing.

Sydney Morning Herald, 11 August 1921, p. 7.

Late Matron Creal: impressive funeral, military honours [2]

Australian Dictionary of Biography [3]

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