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metadata.territorywomen.dc.title: Edith White
Name: White, Edith Alexandra
Also known as: McQuade, Edith Alexandra
Date of Death: 1988-05-25
Place of Birth: Grafton (N.S.W.)
Date of Birth: 1901-01-20
Place of Death: Brisbane (Qld.)
Occupation: Matron
Biographical notes: Edith arrived in Darwin in 1937 to take up an appointment as a Sister in the Darwin Hospital. After six months, she was posted to Katherine Hospital as Sister in Charge. She reported daily on the temperature to the Darwin weather office and setting up the kerosene flares on the aerodrome runaway for Dr Clyde Fenton, if he was returning after dark from visiting distant patients by plane. She then moved to Tennant Creek for seven months. In 1939, she was informed she had been appointed Staff Nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service. Edith wrote ‘to my bitter disappointment the Government would not release me from the Northern Territory Medical Service’. She continued with the Territory Medical Service until the military authorities advised her in 1940 that the 119th Australian General Hospital was being established in Darwin and Edith was to be matron. In 1941, at one stage the 119th was functioning in three different locations, Kahlin, Bagot and Berrimah presenting Matron White with administration and rostering of the staff difficulties. Matron White’s hospital received its first battle casualties on the 18th February 1942 when 11 badly wounded patients were admitted from a convoy that had been attacked on the previous day in the Timor Sea. On the 19th February, the Matron and staff placed patients under beds and those that could ran to the long grass outside or into the slit trenches. The staff worked long and hard hours after the air raids. The decision was to move the hospital to Adelaide River on the 7 March 1942 Matron White now had staff scattered over an area stretching 130 kilometres. She also had to take care of a number of United States nurses and other women who had escaped from Corregidor in the Philippines until their evacuation south. In addition between October and December 1942 she had to deal with over 300 groups of women and children from islands to the north of Australia that were very ill, starving and only a few could speak English. Refugees were from hiding in the hills of Timor. During the remainder of 1942 and into 1943 the hospital received many casualties resulting from Australians and American air operations to the north and bombing raids, dealing with the climatic conditions with skin diseases and the usual illnesses and accidents kept the hospital busy. In 1943, White was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian Army Nursing Service and appointed as Principal Matron in the Northern Territory.
Related link: McQuade White, E. (Edith). Reminiscences of an Australian Army Nurse. Brisbane: Boolarong, 1992.
Grant, Arch. Australia's Frontline Matron, Edith Mcquade White. Dee Why, NSW: Frontier Publishing, 1991.
Northern Territory Library : Peter Spillet Manuscript Collection, File 158
Carment, D. 1949-. Northern Territory Dictionary of Biography. Rev. ed. ed. Darwin: Charles Darwin University Press, 2008.
PictureNT : 119 Australian General Hospital Staff
Appears in Collections:Territory Women

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