The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Nursing Superintendent Marianne Rawson RRC MID

Marianne Rawson was born 1855 in Avenel, Central Victoria. Her parents were Solomon Rawson (died 1905 Avenel aged 81), who in 1854, married Hanorah Ryan (died 1891, Avenel aged 58). Their children consisted of seven daughters and one son, born in Avenel over the period 1855 - 1872.

Sister Rawson's training as a nurse was undertaken in England and at Dublin's Rotund Hospital. On her return to Australia, she was matron at the Womens Hospital, Carlton, for 2 years, after which in 1895, she went to West Australia. There she established a private hospital, which having burnt down, led to her being appointed matron of the Kalgoorlie Hospital in November 1896.

She returned to Victoria in February 1899 and a year later in March 1900 was appointed as Superintendent of ten Victorian nurses to accompany the Third Victorian Bushmen's Contingent to South Africa. Her next of kin was her sister Margaret Swan of Avenel. Marianne embarked at Melbourne 10/3/1900 per Euryalus, disembarking at Beira, Rhodesia 3/4/1900. The nurses served at Salisbury, Fort Charter, Bulawayo, Hillside, Mafeking, Springfontein and Tuli. Conditions at the smaller hospitals were primitive and medical supplies were hard to get but she and her nurses achieved the impossible and provided the necessary care and comfort to those who were ill. It was in these trying conditions that Sister Frances Emma Hines died from pneumonia at the Memorial Hospital, Bulawayo 7/8/1900. Who knows how many lives these young women saved? It was for her outstanding organizational work and courage in the caring of patients that Marianne Rawson was awarded the Royal Red Cross 1st Class, gazetted 26/6/1902 (The London Gazette, July29,1902; p4853) and was Mentioned in Dispatches 29/7/1902, (The London Gazette, October 31, 1902; p6907.)

After returning from South Africa, Sister Rawson returned to Kalgoorlie, where in 1903 she was presented with the Royal Red Cross by the Governor of West Australia. Also in 1903 at Kalgoorlie, now aged 48, she married John O'Ferrall, who was born 1860 and died 1937 in Brighton, Victoria, aged 77. By 1909 the O'Ferralls had returned to Victoria to live. She died at home in Caulfield, Melbourne, in 1934 aged 79 and was buried 13/8/1934 Melbourne General Cemetery, Roman Catholic Area, Compartment D, Grave 1.

Paul Kruger

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