As doctors and nurses prepare for another Christmas spent treating Covid-19 patients, a revised, second edition of Not for Glory: A century of service by medical women to the Australian Army and its Allies reminds us of their connection to the many women who volunteered for Army service at quarantine stations during the 1918-19 pandemic.
Written by Dr Susan J Neuhaus and Dr Sharon Mascall-Dare, Not For Glory shines a spotlight on these women’s stories of adventure, courage, sacrifice, and determination in the fight against enemies seen and unseen.
“There is a compelling connection between the 1918-19 pandemic and the nurses of the Australian Army Nursing Services who volunteered to serve in the quarantine stations treating large number of soldiers returning on the troop ships and infected with influenza,” says Dr Susan J Neuhaus.
“Many of these women, who nursed and cared for hundreds of infected and recovering patients brought ashore with pneumonic influenza, became infected themselves, and died.
“And among them was 22-year-old Rosa O’Kane, who was the first nurse to die in this service, just four days short of Christmas.
“What these nurses (and other women doctors and medical specialists who volunteered to serve Australia over the past 100 years) share with our frontline workers today, is that unstoppable drive to help, even when there are obstacles in the way.
“For example, even though the Australian Army did not permit the enlistment of female doctors until the Second World War, at least 14 female doctors found and funded their own ways to serve overseas as military doctors during World War I because they had a strong calling of service.
“And yet, despite their invaluable contributions, despite overcoming the professional and gender bias of the times, and despite enduring the same hardships and dangers as men, these women were largely forgotten, which is why I felt compelled to capture their stories and achievements, and those of all the women who followed,” she says.
Not For Glory was adapted by Shift Theatre into the play, Hallowed Ground – Women Doctors At War, which toured the Edinburgh Fringe. This new, second edition, has been released as an ebook and audiobook, voiced over by one of the play’s actors and creators, Helen Hopkins.
Not For Glory has been described as “an uplifting account of service beyond self” by Major General John Pearn (former Surgeon-General, Australian Defence Force), and been praised by Lieutenant General David Morrison (Chief of Army, Australian Defence Force) for reminding us that, “bravery, skill and compassion exist not only in the history books, but also in the current generation of female medical professionals who serve Australia here at home and wherever our soldiers deploy.”
Not For Glory is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.
Dr Susan Neuhaus AM CSC
Dr Susan Neuhaus AM CSC FRACS is an Australian general surgeon and surgical oncologist with specialty interests in melanoma and sarcoma surgery.
She served in both the Australian Army and Australian Army Reserve and, as a 27 year old female doctor, she was posted overseas as regimental medical officer in 1993, spending 9 months with the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia. This was followed four years later by several months with the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville as an officer in the Army Reserve. Her operational experience also includes a posting to Afghanistan, where she served as Clinical Director of the multinational NATO hospital in Uruzgan Province. She retired from the Army in 2010 with the rank of colonel.
Since retiring from military service in 2010, Dr Neuhaus has researched and written extensively on women in the Australian Defence Force, from the experiences of mothers on deployment, to the female military surgeons of World War I and the health needs of servicewomen and female veterans.
In 2018, Colonel Neuhaus (Ret) was honoured to deliver the ANZAC Day Australian War Memorial dawn service address to the nation.