The Chris Thomas Collection of Boer War Medals
PAIR TO NURSING SISTER: Royal Red Cross (VRI) (RRC); Queen's South Africa Medal 1899, (type 3 reverse). First medal unnamed, Nursing Sister M.S.Bidmead on second medal. Named medal impressed. With case for RRC by R. & S. Garrard & Co, court mounted, extremely fine and rare nurse's group.
Ex Wide Bay Military Antiques, February 1988. RRC: LG 27/9/1901, p6324, posn 2. MID: LG 10/9/1901, p5967, posn 25. MID: LG 29/10/1902, p4853, posn 3. Miss Martha Sarah Bidmead was born on 5 December 1862 in the Parish of St Peter Port, Island of Guernsey, Channel Islands. After both of her parents died she migrated to Australia arriving with her four sisters on 30 April 1880. She was trained as a nurse at Adelaide Children's Hospital from July 1886 to 1887 and was charge nurse until 1889. Then she occupied herself in private nursing for several years and in 1898 was appointed staff nurse at Burra District Hospital. In 1899 she applied for active service in the Boer War and was one of six nurses selected from 26 applicants to join the Australian Army Medical Corps Contingent. On 21 February 1900 she sailed from Melbourne on the Australasian to Transvaal, South Africa in charge of the South Australian Contingent of six nurses. The nurses were attached to 2nd General Hospital at Winburg near Cape Town until June and then transferred to No 10 General Hospital at Bloemfontein where the NSW Ambulance Corps was based. In March 1901 Sister Bidmead became ill and after a fornight's leave was assigned to light duties at 5th Stationary Hospital, Bloemfontein. She later was placed in charge of 10th General Hospital. Late in 1901 she went to England in charge of some of the wounded on one of the hospital ships. On 10 December 1901 she had the unique honour of being the first Australian nurse to be awarded the Royal Red Cross, the highest distinction a nurse can receive. It was presented to her by King Edward VII at St James's Palace. She was mentioned in despatches on 4 September 1901 and again in October 1902. She was also awarded the Devoted Service Cross, an award from the South Australian Nurses' Association. This was presented to her and also to Sister Glenie at the Review on Coronation Day, 26 June 1902. After the war she engaged in private nursing until 1912 when she was appointed Superintendent of the District Trained Nursing Society of South Australia which provided home nursing care for the poor. She was also Secretary of the South Australian Branch Council of the Australian Trained Nurses Association in 1920 to 1926. Sister Bidmead retired in 1926 from active nursing, occupying herself playing bridge and tending the garden at Guernsey Cottage, the home at Payneham which she shared with her sisters. She died there of a chronic neurological disorder on 23 July 1940 and was cremated after a service at St Aidan's Anglican Church, Payneham. With research.
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PAIR TO NURSING SISTER: Royal Red Cross (VRI) (RRC); Queen's South Africa Medal 1899, (type ...