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Nurse’s uncensored diaries celebrate the unsung courage of women in World War I

“A lot of the soldiers were actually very scared … and knew they were going back to carnage.”

Australian nurse Anne Donnell writes vividly of the fear felt by Australian troops in her diary in November, 1917 from the 48th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS), near Amiens, France on the Western front.

“The expressions on those dear boys' faces as they come pouring in with their frightened anxious hunted look combined with the suffering of pain, fear and shock,” she writes in her wartime diary.

“Boys who could see would be the leaders of queues of blind, bandaged boys each placing their hands on the other's shoulders and so feeling their way.”

The “Fritz” (Germans) had broken through in their counterattack and were “three miles away”.

She describes the “full fury” of the noise and the “tremendous and continuous humming” of scores of aeroplanes overhead.

“The wounded boys and the gassed boys are making their way in streams towards the CCS. I shall never forget it.”

” … ever..

"A lot of the soldiers were actually very scared … and knew they were going back to carnage."

Australian nurse Anne Donnell writes vividly of the fear felt by Australian troops in her diary in November, 1917 from the 48th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS), near Amiens, France on the Western front.

"The expressions on those dear boys' faces as they come pouring in with their frightened anxious hunted look combined with the suffering of pain, fear and shock," she writes in her wartime diary.

"Boys who could see would be the leaders of queues of blind, bandaged boys each placing their hands on the other's shoulders and so feeling their way."

A black and white photo of a woman wearing a World War I nurse's uniform.

The "Fritz" (Germans) had broken through in their counterattack and were "three miles away".

She describes the "full fury" of the noise and the "tremendous and continuous humming" of scores of aeroplanes overhead.

"The wounded boys and the gassed boys are making their way in streams towards the CCS. I shall never forget it."

" … every available space under cover is packed, and not only inside but outside as well. I leave my wounded men and go over to the gas side … there we go on hour after hour putting cocaine in those poor smarting eyes then soda bicarb pads and a bandage."

For nearly a century, the diaries of World War 1 Australian nurse Anne Donnell were packed away and forgotten.

The 'myths of war'

Although they were published in 1920 under the title "Letters from an Australian Army Nurse," the diaries were edited and censored.

Now, the original letters and diaries of the nurse — who hailed from Cherry Gardens, south of Adelaide — are set to be published in full, and will shed new light on the Anzacs and the work of Australian nurses.

"In many cases, the censors have removed critical sentences or phrases or entire paragraphs," Professor of History at Victoria University, Robert Pascoe said.

In the 1920s book the men returning to Gallipoli from the Australian hospital on Lemnos island are described as "brave and apparently cheerful".

But in her original letters, Anne Donnell writes it was "terribly sad" to see the men returning to Gallipoli and they "hated the thought of going back …"

Anne Donnell pictured (centre) with Australians troops in Lemons, just under 100 km from the Gallipoli peninsula.

"We now know from Anne that a lot of the soldiers she was looking after in Gallipoli were actually very scared," Professor Pascoe said.

"So, unlike the myth we've been given that they were brave men who actually stared death in the face, she actually saw their fear and described it in the original diary. The men knew they were going back to carnage.

"We've gone back to the original diaries and we're able now to hear Anne Donnell's voice, loud and clear," he said.

Long-lost diaries

Anne Donnell's original 80,000 words have been meticulously transcribed by her grandson, Graeme Mitchell, and his wife, Jan Leader.

Mr Mitchell discovered the works in a garage after his mother died.

"We had no idea they existed. When Anne passed, they went to Mum, and when Mum passed they were in a makeup box which was basically airtight and no-one knew anything about them," Mr Mitchell said.

"My brother found them and rang me up and that's when we realised there was a story to be told about women's history in Australia."

An open notebook showing a hand-written diary.

"It took years to do. We worked with lights, magnifying glasses, torches, outside.

"We got to know Anne quite well. She was an intelligent woman, witty, charming, funny, didn't much like being told what to do."

Professor Pascoe has compared Anne Donnell's original letters to the first published version.

He says they explode long-standing myths about the Great War, including the belief the Anzac's were not scared, and that the nurses did not have intimate relations with the men.

Her account of New Year's Eve 1915 on Lemnos was removed from the original book.

"We clasped hands and heartily sang 'Should Auld Acquaintances'. I had hold of Captain Lloyd's, he was then convalescing from his severe illness, and Captain Strachan's," she wrote.

A man and two women examine historical documents.

Camaraderie of women

Professor Pascoe said; "We can see in the diaries a kind of intimacy we haven't seen before.

"In the same way historians are looking back through the trench diaries of homosexual and homoerotic feelings of the men in the trenches, now we are seeing the emotional side of what it was like to be a woman serving either at the battlefront of near the battlefront.

"What was left out of that story was the women, the nurses like Anne.

"There were 3,000 women who went off to the war, they were just pushed to one side because they weren't part of this legend."

Professor Pascoe says the diaries also show that there was the same camaraderie among the women as the men.

"For a long time we've thought only men could have camaraderie.

"It was about the warriors together, the men together, fighting together.

"She talks about we've been through something together and that's something we've gone through together on the island of Lemnos, will never go away, that we've actually endured a hardship together, we've come out the other end and we're different people for it."

Anne Donnell also writes about how the nurses protected the Australian soldiers and stood-up to authority.

'Courageous, brave, tiny little pocket rocket'

In September 1918 she writes that the nurses smuggle a Private back into the Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Harefield, England, after he has stayed out all night drinking.

"I have never reported a Digger yet for being AWL (Absent Without Leave) And I never shall … just think for a moment what these boys have done for us and the trivial things vanish immediately. "

In another incident at the Kitchener Hospital in Brighton, England, in October 1916, the nurses rebel after being told they could only fraternise with officers.

Black and white image of five nurses and and two orderlies.

Anne Donnell writes that the matron tells them; "You are not to go out with or speak to Privates or NCO's, and if you do so you will be sent into British Hospitals.

"We were silent with surprise for a while then one sister said, 'can we dress in mufti and go out with them?' 'No certainly not.'

"Then Sister Simpson got up and said 'Matron I have a little brother fighting in France that I haven't seen for six years. Does it mean that if he gets furlough and comes over to see me that I mustn't go out or speak to him?' The reply is 'that is the order, Sister.'"

Anne Donnell writes that the nurses then took things further.

They approached the Agent Generals for Tasmania and South Australia, wrote to the Australian newspapers and sought permission to approach the King.

Jan Leader said Anne Donnell has been forgotten and she wants her included in Australia's history books.

"She was a courageous, brave, tiny little pocket rocket, a beautiful soul, a gentle woman who was kind and her whole being was to look after these soldiers," Ms Leader said.

"She loved the boys and all she wanted to do was to make sure they were cared for."

"We all know about our Anzacs and our soldiers but not everyone knows about the great work our nurses did."

Graeme Mitchell wants Anne Donnell's story to be widely known.

"She worked, she was cold, she was lonely. She was belted up, she was afraid, she was far from home. She managed to put on a brave face when she was working with people who were wounded but nobody ever took care of the carers. It must have been terrifying, and she managed it every day."

"I think history has a way of passing people by, accidentally forgetting them," Mr Mitchell said.

"We've got John Kirkpatrick Simpson, and his donkey, and we've got Weary Dunlop and now we have Anne Donnell and she's earned the right to stand shoulder to shoulder, with the best this country has ever had."

Anne Donnell pictured with Australian troops in National Library of Australia photo

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Australia

Relive days two and one at the Parkes Elvis Festival in our live blog!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll? Were all shook up this year over the 2019 Parkes Elvis Festival. Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more. During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events. READ MORE Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll?

Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more.

During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are pa..

Are you ready to Rock and Roll? Were all shook up this year over the 2019 Parkes Elvis Festival. Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more. During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events. READ MORE Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll?

Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more.

During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events.

Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

This story Relive days two and one at the Parkes Elvis Festival in our live blog! first appeared on Parkes Champion-Post.

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Australia

Cotton Australia, irrigators hit back at criticism over fish kill

IRRIGATORS and cotton growers have hit back at suggestions they, in combination with government policy, were somehow responsible for the fish kill that took out as many as a million fish early this week near Menindee Lakes. NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred. Both blamed drought for the fish kill. “What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. “Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said. “It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of ..

IRRIGATORS and cotton growers have hit back at suggestions they, in combination with government policy, were somehow responsible for the fish kill that took out as many as a million fish early this week near Menindee Lakes. NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred. Both blamed drought for the fish kill. “What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. “Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said. “It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of the drought.” He said general security allocations (meaning the percentage of a water licence farmers are able to use) have been at zero per cent in both the Gwydir and Lower Namoi valleys. “The water simply isnt there for anyone. “As we approach the state election in March and the federal election in May, it is understandable that MPs seeking re-election and candidates seeking election will want to raise their profiles by allocating blame. “Ultimately it is their credibility that will evaporate when they seek to deny the existence of the drought and the lack of rainfall/inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray said cotton growers should not be blamed for this weeks fish kill, nor those last month. “New South Wales is in the grip of a long and devastating drought. This drought is impacting all agricultural sectors, including the cotton industry where this seasons crop is forecast to be at least half of last seasons,” he said.. “On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with no cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4000 hectares the year before. “Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1pc of what can be planted in a very good season. “Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world, but as an industry we are tired of being the whipping boy for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought. “About 18 months ago, 2000 gigalitres of water was in the Menindee Lakes before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority took the deliberate decision to accelerate releases from Menindee to meet downstream requirements and reduce overall evaporation losses from the lakes. “In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly difficult task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts. “Since July 1, 2017, irrigators have extracted just 16 gigalitres out of the Barwon-Darling – an amount that would have evaporated out of Menindee in just 16 days. “Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little to no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths,” said Mr Murray. “What this issue highlights is how difficult the management of the Menindee Lakes is.” You can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Daily Liberal. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up to our free or subscriber only newsletters below:

NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred.

Both blamed drought for the fish kill.

“What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins.

“Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said.

“It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of the drought.”

He said general security allocations (meaning the percentage of a water licence farmers are able to use) have been at zero per cent in both the Gwydir and Lower Namoi valleys.

“The water simply isnt there for anyone.

“As we approach the state election in March and the federal election in May, it is understandable that MPs seeking re-election and candidates seeking election will want to raise their profiles by allocating blame.

“Ultimately it is their credibility that will evaporate when they seek to deny the existence of the drought and the lack of rainfall/inflows,” said Mr Simpkins.

Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray said cotton growers should not be blamed for this weeks fish kill, nor those last month.

“New South Wales is in the grip of a long and devastating drought. This drought is impacting all agricultural sectors, including the cotton industry where this seasons crop is forecast to be at least half of last seasons,” he said..

“On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with no cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4000 hectares the year before.

“Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1pc of what can be planted in a very good season.

“Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world, but as an industry we are tired of being the whipping boy for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought.

“About 18 months ago, 2000 gigalitres of water was in the Menindee Lakes before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority took the deliberate decision to accelerate releases from Menindee to meet downstream requirements and reduce overall evaporation losses from the lakes.

“In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly difficult task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts.

“Since July 1, 2017, irrigators have extracted just 16 gigalitres out of the Barwon-Darling – an amount that would have evaporated out of Menindee in just 16 days.

“Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little to no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths,” said Mr Murray.

“What this issue highlights is how difficult the management of the Menindee Lakes is.”

Would you like more Dubbo and regional news?

You can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Daily Liberal. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up to our free or subscriber only newsletters below:

This story Cotton Australia, irrigators hit back at criticism over fish kill first appeared on Daily Liberal.

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Marise Payne declines to put timeframe on Rahaf Alqunun’s asylum claim

Marise Payne has declined to put a timeframe on how soon Australian authorities will be able to reach a decision on whether to offer asylum to Saudi teenager Rahaf Alqunun.

Key points:

The Foreign Minister said Australia was accessing Rahaf Alqunun's claim for asylum
Ms Payne said there were “a number of steps” still to be taken in the assessment process
She said she had also spoken to Thai government officials about the detention of Hakeem AlAraibi

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was speaking in Thailand after talks with Thai Government officials, said Australia was engaged in the process of assessing Ms Alqunun's claim for asylum.

But she stopped short of saying how long the claim would take to be processed.

“There are, as I have just said, a number of steps in the process, including in terms of that assessment,” Ms Payne said.

“They are required to be taken and they will be completed within due course and then that matter will be resolved.”

The Department o..

Marise Payne has declined to put a timeframe on how soon Australian authorities will be able to reach a decision on whether to offer asylum to Saudi teenager Rahaf Alqunun.

Key points:

  • The Foreign Minister said Australia was accessing Rahaf Alqunun's claim for asylum
  • Ms Payne said there were "a number of steps" still to be taken in the assessment process
  • She said she had also spoken to Thai government officials about the detention of Hakeem AlAraibi

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was speaking in Thailand after talks with Thai Government officials, said Australia was engaged in the process of assessing Ms Alqunun's claim for asylum.

But she stopped short of saying how long the claim would take to be processed.

"There are, as I have just said, a number of steps in the process, including in terms of that assessment," Ms Payne said.

"They are required to be taken and they will be completed within due course and then that matter will be resolved."

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed on Wednesday that the United Nations refugee agency had referred Ms Alqunun's case to Australia for consideration.

Ms Alqunun's asylum application was fast-tracked, partly because of security concerns, after the young woman's father and brother arrived in Bangkok and asked Thai police to see her.

Ms Alqunun, 18, flew into Thailand from Kuwait on the weekend, saying she had a ticket onwards to Australia where she had hoped to seek asylum over fears her family would kill her for renouncing Islam.

But when she arrived in Bangkok she said a Saudi diplomat met her at the airport and tricked her into handing over her passport and ticket, saying he would secure a visa.

The teenager then barricaded herself inside her room at an airport hotel, and requested to speak to the United Nations refugee office.

Ms Payne said she had also spoken to Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister about the detention of Hakeen AlAraibi, and his possible return to Bahrain.

She said Mr AlAraibi had been visited by officials from the Australian embassy on a number of occasions and the Australian Government was engaging with his legal team.

"We are, as I've said, very concerned about his detention, very concerned about any potential for return of Mr Araibi to Bahrain," she said.

"I have reiterated those concerns to both ministers."

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