Sister Claire Evelyn Trestrail was the eldest of five being born on the 10th of December, 1877 in Clare, South Australia. Trestrail served in the First World War as a nurse following in her mother’s footsteps who was a trained nurse, Acting Matron of King Edward Hospital in Perth and also had involvement within the Red Cross and the Saint John’s Ambulance Services. Trestrail’s younger siblings also had involvement within the First World War with her two younger brothers; John Henry and Amarald Glen, serving in the royal Flying Corps and respectively, 1 Machine Battalion. Amarald was also presented with a Military Medal for Gallantry at Villaret. Sister Ella also served as a nurse, got married, but tragically returned as an amputee. It was only her youngest sister Amy who did not serve during the war.
Trestrail began her training at Wakefield Saint Private Hospital in Adelaide as a nursing sister. Then in January of 1911 she passed her final exams for the Australasian Trained Nurse Association which later led to Trestrail accompanying Catherine Tully and Myrtle Wilson on a voyage for England in late 1913. Then in August, they ventured for Belgium under the leadership of Mrs Saint Clair Stobart, sailing for Belgium then on the 22nd of September 1914 they arrived in Antwerp. Promptly after they arrived they began to set up 120 beds in a concert hall located in Burchem, which frighteningly was in direct line of the German artillery fire which came quite regularly. Trestrail was one of the first Australian nurses to be confronted with the horrific wounds of modern warfare conspicuously inflicted among the French and Belgian.
Trestrail wrote in the Australasian Nurses Journal in December 19...
... middle of paper ...
... met Sydney Percival Swan who she later married. He was a returned serviceman of Albion, was in France in 1922 due to serving with 21 Howitzer Brigade and he also was the manager of Burns Philip’s Northern Queensland branch. In 1936 Trestrail and her family moved to Roseville in Sydney. War then broke out again in 1939 and Trestrail trained women of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD). Sister Trestrail died in New South Wales in September 1960 of old age.
Trestrail fought for what she rightfully deserved having to fight to gain the appreciation to be granted the 1914 star. Comments recorded in British records dated on the 4th of May 1918 state,
‘Ineligible. Did not serve on the establishment of an authorized unit of the BEF.’ (primary source) on the 6th of June 1919 attitudes changed and a receipt for the 1914 star and a clasp was issued surprisingly by the Navy.
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