Annie Purcell WWI Nurse

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Clive and Annie Purcell, Studio Portrait, Clive & Annie Purcell, Sandhill Camp, England, June 1918

Featured Image: Clive and Annie Purcell, Studio Portrait, Sandhill Camp, England, June 1918

ORT_Logo Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 2 February 2022

Auntie Nam,  Annie Watkins Bennett Vize Purcell, WWI Nurse (1887-1941)


My mother called her Auntie Nam. She liked and admired her greatly. She was the sister of my mother’s father William Clive Purcell. Both Annie and Clive died relatively young. My mother adored her father.

(My mother Anne-Enid Frances Stewart (née Purcell) and related family, including her father Clive, were remembered by my sister in one chapter of Our Mothers by Robbie Henderson, Austin Macauley London, 29 October 2021.)

Auntie Nam was born Annie Watkins Bennett Vize Purcell in Yea, Victoria, Australia on 3 April 1887.

I am republishing a lightly edited version of the research undertaken by Janet Scarfe on behalf of the East Melbourne Historical Society (a link to the original is provided). The photographs are from a collection of family photographs.

Scarfe’s depiction of my maternal grandfather Clive Purcell’s war record is slightly unfair (from a 21st century feminine perspective) but I will deal with this in a separate article about him and his First World War (WWI) experience.

Biographical notes:

Annie Watkins Bennett Vize Purcell

Annie Purcell is commemorated on the honour board of nurses associated with St Peter’s Eastern Hill, East Melbourne who served in the Great War of 1914–18. She served in Egypt and England as well as on ships transporting troops to and from Australia. After the war, she became a well-known figure in Victoria’s baby health movement and was later matron at the junior school of Geelong Grammar. She died in Hobart in 1941.

Annie Purcell, Studio Portrait, 1915
Annie Purcell, Studio Portrait, 1915

Before the War

Annie (1887–1941) was the eldest of the six children (3 of each) born to William Purcell (1861–1914) and his wife Ann Emina (née Richards) (1865–1925). Her names honoured female forebears on both sides.

William and Emina married in Victoria in 1886. William Purcell was of Irish stock, his father James and mother Ann having moved from County Cork to Van Diemen’s Land in 1854. They had three sons and two daughters with them.

James Purcell was variously a police constable and farmer in the Macquarie Plains area slightly north of Hobart. More children, including William, were born in the colony.

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posted in Canberra, hopefully at the end of the Omicron surge


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