The last wattle you sent

Evelyn (Tev) Davies arrived on the island of Lemnos just as the August Offensive began on Gallipoli. She was part of the first contingent of nurses sent to staff No. 3 Australian General Hospital. Hospital was hardly the right word for it. Medical equipment, and even the most basic provisions, had gone astray.

Conditions on the island remained spartan for all the time that Tev nursed there. The food was poor and there was very little of it. Greek bread, baked on the island, sometimes gave the nurses dysentery. Lice filled their hair and centipedes and scorpions crawled about their feet.

Tev Davies stayed on at Lemnos right up to the Allied evacuation of Gallipoli in 1915. After Lemnos, Tev Davies nursed in Egypt and Northern India, the last post ‘in full view of the Himalayas’ and ‘only 23 miles’ from the famous Khyber Pass. Shipped on to England, she nursed shell shock cases.

But the longer Tev stayed in England, the more she seemed to tire of it. The land she had once idealised became a place of ‘food famine, red tape and artificiality’ and even the English countryside seemed ‘small’ and ‘bounded’. Instead, Tev pined for the ragged bush and open spaces of home.