The Australian Boer War Memorial
Anzac Parade Canberra

Sister (Lieutenant) (Later Matron (Major) RRC MID) Mary Pocock

Ancestor Details

Ancestor's Name: Mary Anne Pocock

Ancestor's date of birth: 20/07/1863

Ancestor's date of death: 16/07/1946

Cause of Death: Pneumonia

Service and Life Before the Boer War: Mary Anne (Bessie) Pocock , nursing sister and army matron, was born on 20 July 1863 at Dalby, Queensland, eldest of eight children of George Pocock, blacksmith, who had migrated from England in 1850, and his Irish wife, Mary Ann, née O'Toole. In 1868 the family moved to Lower Coldstream River, New South Wales, and eventually settled on a small acreage at The Punchbowl, near Grafton, in 1876. George Pocock worked as a blacksmith at Copmanhurst, walking in on Mondays and returning home on Saturdays. Mary Anne ('Bessie') Pocock was educated at Almura and Copmanhurst Public schools. Her childhood was not easy as she had to help her mother to run the small farm and rear her brothers and sisters. Leaving home at an early age, she entered domestic service at Grafton and there, three weeks before she was due to marry, her fiancé died of tetanus. She then began general nursing training at Sydney Hospital in November 1890 and continued on the staff as a sister. Pocock had joined the New South Wales Army Nursing Service Reserve in 1899

Service Number: Officer - no number

Colony or State of enlistment: NSW, Place of Enlistment: Sydney Victoria Barracks

Unit: NSW Army Medical Corps

Rank attained in Boer War: LT, Date Effective: 06/1899

Highest Rank attained (if served after war): MAJ, Date Effective: 30/01/1916

Murray Page: 14

Contingent: First New South Wales

Ship: Kent, Date of Sailing: 28/10/1899

Memorial details: Detail not provided

Awards/Decorations: Queen and King's South Africa Medals with clasps. 1914/18 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Royal Red Cross (RRC), Mention in Despatches (MID).

Personal Characteristics: Neat and ladylike. An exceptional administrator and organiser. Compassionate but a strict disciplinarian with staff. Life member of the Australasian Trained Nurses' Assoc and Australian Army Nursing Reserve. Height 175 cm, weight 67 kg (1914).

Reasons to go and fight: Detail not provided

Details of service in war: : enlisted for service in the South African War. Leaving Sydney in January 1900, she disembarked at Cape Town and was posted to the 2nd Stationary Hospital, East London, from February to June. There dysentery and enteric fever were rife and conditions were primitive. In July-August she was transferred to Johannesburg, and then moved to the 17th Stationary Hospital, Middleburg, where she remained until the end of the war in May 1902.She also served at No 15 General hospital Elandsfontein. After contracting enteric fever she was invalided to England, returning to Sydney next April. For her war service she was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Queen and King's South Africa medals with clasps.

Service and life after the Boer War: War: She returned to Sydney Hospital in June 1903, then was matron of hospitals for the insane at Newcastle in 1907-11 and Gladesville in 1911-14. In September 1914 Sister Pocock enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and took up duty as senior sister of the 2nd Australian General Hospital, Cairo, Egypt, in December. Two months detachment in charge of a temporary hospital for the wounded at Ismailia followed, then from July 1915 to January 1916 she was matron of the Hospital Ship Assaye which carried patients from Gallipoli to England. The wounded arrived on board straight from the trenches, their muddy, filthy clothing frozen on them, suffering from frostbite, gangrene, dysentery and typhoid. Though it was a heartbreaking experience Pocock recorded that it was 'a privilege to have nursed these magnificent men'. From April to July 1916 she served at Marseilles and Wimereux, France, with the 2nd AGH, then was matron at the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station, Trois Arbres near Steenwerck, Belgium, until April 1917; she rejoined the 2nd AGH at Boulogne before taking charge of an Australian convalescent hospital, Cobham Hall, Kent, England, in October. Her final appointment was matron of the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, from January 1918 to February 1919. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross, 2nd class, and was twice mentioned in dispatches. Matron Pocock's AIF appointment ended in Sydney on 30 October 1919 and Grafton welcomed her home with a presentation of 'a handsome tea-set and a time-piece'. In December she resumed her position as matron at Gladesville and in 1924 she established a convalescent hospital which she called Ismailia at Chatswood. On retirement in the late 1930s she returned to The Punchbowl, where her nieces looked after her.  CLICK HERE for Matron Pocock's biography.

Descendant Details

Name of Descendant: Jennifer Ellen May Wainwright
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Niece

Name of Descendant: Patricia Helen Pinkerton, Ramsgate Beach NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: great niece

Name of Descendant: Suzanne Munro, Evans Head NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Great niece

Name of Descendant: Margaret Sharpin, Burleigh Waters QLD
Relationship to Ancestor: great niece

Name of Descendant: Douglas Munro, Evans Head NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: great nephew

Name of Descendant: Jocelyn Cahill, Fingal Bay NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Great Niece

Name of Descendant: Margaret Heather Pocock, Copmanhurst NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Niece

Name of Descendant: Matthew Pocock, Lismore NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Great nephew

Name of Descendant: Timothy Pocock, Ballina NSW
Relationship to Ancestor: Great nephew


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