Almost within sight of Australia

Narrelle Hobbes was born in Tilba Tilba, trained as a nurse and enlisted in London in 1915. Through the long course of the war she served in British hospitals in Malta and Sicily, India and Mesopotamia. Narrelle wrote in her letters of an endless procession of stretchers, ‘every man somebody’s boy’. And she died at sea in 1918, on her way home to Australia. As Nurse Hobbes served with British rather than Australian forces, her name is not honoured in the Nation’s War Memorial. Her story reminds us of the devotion and sacrifice of a generation of women. It reveals the inequalities of commemoration and shows the way remembering can also be an act of forgetting.

For full attribution of sources, suggestions for further reading and an extended version of the story itself see ‘Almost within sight of Australia: Narrelle Hobbes’ in Bruce Scates, Rebecca Wheatley and Laura James, World War One: A History in 100 Stories (Melbourne, Penguin/Viking, 2015) pp. 16-17; 354.