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FRATER Penelope

Female 1869 - 1939


Personal Information    |    Media    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All

  • Name  FRATER Penelope 
    Born  26 Jan 1869  Merrylong Park, Liverpool Plains, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • Present at Birth: Mrs Paget (Midwife)
      Informant: Alexander Frater, (Father, Merrylong Park.)
      Reg. No. 14449
    Gender  Female 
    Residence  1930  Sutherland, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    "Oaklands" 
    _PPEXCLUDE 
    _STAT  Never Married 
    _UID  06CFB045807448B39A3CB348DBF24ADB7C78 
    Died  12 Dec 1939  Sydney Hospital, Princess Highway, Sutherland, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Cause: Carcinoma of Breast 
    • Informant: R Jamieson (Nephew) Rural Bank, Sydney.
      Reg. No. 22151
    Buried  14 Dec 1939  Woronora Cemetery, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    • Location, Wall Of Memories Section, AIF PANEL C-OLDSECTION Position, 0025
    Person ID  I582  Frater Genealogy
    Last Modified  1 Jul 2018 

    Father  FRATER Alexander,   b. 15 Dec 1828, Northumberland, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Mar 1911, Deep Creek, Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  HAY Penelope,   b. 10 Feb 1834, Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Mar 1917, Merihula, Namoi River, Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  7 Feb 1851  Kirkcubright, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • I am unsure if Alexander and Penelope married in Kirkcubright before leaving or perhaps they married onboard the "«i»Emperor«/i»" I have never been able to find a record for their marriage as yet. Family stories have it that they married then a couple of months after the marriage sailed for Australia. On the birth records of their children it states they where married 7 Feb 1851 in Kirkcudbright.
    Family ID  F186  Group Sheet

  • News
    Centenary Of Anzac
    Centenary Of Anzac
    Part 2
    Centenary Of Anzac
    Centenary Of Anzac
    Part 1

  • Notes 
    • Penelope discribed as being 5feet 4inches, 140 pounds complexion fair, Brown eyes and Brown hair.

      Armed services organisation, Location: New South Wales, Australia. The Army Nursing Service Reserve was established in 1899 and attached to the New South Wales Army Medical Corps. This was the first official female army nurses' organisation in the Australian colonies. Nurse Nellie Gould was appointed lady superintendent of the Reserve. On the 17 January 1900 Nurse Gould left with thirteen nursing sisters to serve in the Boer War as part of the British Army. The nursing contingent returned to Australia in 1902. The Reserve was replaced by the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS), that was formed post Federation.Details: New South Wales Army Medical Corps attached to Imperial Draft Contingent - Roll of individuals entitled to the South Africa Medal and Clasps.Gould, Ellen Julia - Lady Superintendent, Johnstone, Julia Bligh - Superintendant, Austin, Anne - Sister, Frater, Penelope - Sister, Garden, Anna Gardiner - Sister, Hoadley, Emily - Sister, Lister, Elizabeth Ward - Sister, Martin, Marion Philippe - Sister, Matchett, Annie L - Sister, Newton, Nancy - Sister, Nixon, Elizabeth - Sister, Pocock, Mary Annie - Sister, Steel, Mabel - Sister, Woodward, Theresa E - SisterSources used to compile this entry: Guns and Brooches by Jan Bassett, Australian Women at War by Patsy Adam-Smith and Series B5204 National Archives of Australia.Also from other sources: By Max Chamberlain....More than 60 Australian nurses appear to have gone to the Boer war, either provided by governments or by privately raised funds or at their own expense. They served with the New South Wales Army Medical Corps units, in British hospitals - Field, Stationary and Base - or on hospital ships and trains. Initially they experienced some resistance from the regular British Army Nursing Service and local nurses, but performed well in scattered groups or singly from Cape Town and Durban to Rhodesia. They nursed the wounded but found a higher proportion of cases suffered from diseases such as enteric fever (typhoid).A group of 14 New South Wales nurses departed Sydney on the Moravian with the 2nd NSW contingent on 17 January 1900: E J Gould P Frater E W Lister N Newton M Steele J B Johnston A C Garden M Martin E Nixon T E Woodward A Austin E Hoadley A J Matchett A B M Pocock...

      «b»Press Release 30 July 2008
      By NSW Boer War Memorial Committee
      Written by Keith Smith 28 July 2008.«i»
      «/i»Boer War Nurse remembered - Sister Penelope Frater «/b»
      Penelope was born 26 January1869, the daughter of Alexander and Penelope (Hay) Frater at Merrylong Park on the Liverpool Plains, in the New England area of NSW. She was 31 and single when she enlisted on 19 January 1900 in the NSW Nursing Sisters Reserve to serve in South Africa. As a fully qualified and experienced nurse she was given the honorary rank of Lieutenant.
      Penelope's parents' lives were a great early settler's tale. They arrived from Scotland as assisted migrants in June 1851. Her father, Alexander, worked as a shepherd in the farming areas on the outskirts of Sydney until 1869, then took up "Merrylong" (where Penelope was born) until 1911, finally settling on his own property "Millfield" as a Grazier, at Deep Creek near Narrabri. Frater family history records that he was keen on horse racing in and around the New England area and particularly at the Narrabri races. It is pure speculation that as part of his successful farming he may have supplied some of the estimated 25,000 horses to leave Australia for South Africa during the Boer War. The Fraters had ten children, seven boys, three girls: Penelope was the eighth, and the second daughter. The youngest child, Fergus Stewart Frater, also served in the Boer War as No. 26, Trooper, NSW Citizens Bushmen.
      Training to be a nurse was not available in Narrabri. Leaving the family home Penelope travelled to Sydney late in 1891, and, staying with one of her brothers who ran the Sans Souci Hotel, she was accepted as a Probationer at the Sydney Hospital in November. Here the two-year nurse training program was along the lines developed by Florence Nightingale and brought to Australia by her protégé, Lady Superintendent Lucy Osburn, some 30 years earlier, after the success of the Nightingale approach to military nursing in the Crimean War. Student nurses' records of progress were carefully maintained for both the theoretical \endash eg "Anatomy and Physiology passed at viva voce" and practical \endash eg "On day duty in ABC Female Surgical Ward. Proved good, conscientious, and painstaking". Later in her training Penelope's duties had her working in both the Men's Medical and Surgical wards.
      The NSW Nursing Sisters, raised in 1898, was the first female army unit in any Australian colony, and was commanded by Lady Superintendent (Matron) Ellen (Nellie) Gould who had been in charge of Penelope's nurse training at Sydney Hospital. Immediately before her own enlistment Nellie Gould was the Matron of Rydalmere Hospital for the Insane, and as one wag later put it, 'quite suitable preparation for nursing in South Africa'. In all probability most of the recruits that Nellie accepted had trained under her at Sydney Hospital.
      Their uniforms were modelled on the English ones; grey with chocolate facings (faced and braided for lady superintendents, chocolate cuffs for matrons and cuffs with two chocolate stripes for nursing sisters) and red cape, cap with veil.


      In the photo Lady Superintendent Nellie Gould is wearing her chatelaine, the nurse's toolkit containing the emergency instruments: thermometer, scissors, probes, spatulas, syringe and forceps, as well as the keys to both the wards and the medicine cupboards.
      The nurses left Sydney as part of the second NSW contingent to go to the Boer War, only two months after the first. All 14 nurses were officially included in the 108 -strong NSW Army Medical Corps Team commanded by Lt-Col. R V Kelly, sailing from Sydney in the SS Moravian on 17 January 1900. The other elements were 405 officers and men of the NSW Mounted Rifles/1st NSW Mounted Rifles, also sailing on 17 January 1900 in the Southern Cross, and 175 gunners of A Battery, Royal Australian Artillery, which had already left, on 30 December 1899, on the Warrigal.
      As the nurses were preparing to board ship in Sydney the British Army was having a string of serious military reversals in South Africa. The Press quickly dubbed the period 10-15 December 1899 as "Black Week", to describe the outright defeats at the battles at Colenso, Stormberg and Magesfontein while at the same time Boer forces had besieged British troops inside the towns of Mafeking, Ladysmith and Kimberley. Despite these losses, the British War Office announced that colonial nurses going to South Africa would not be treating Regular Army soldiers (meaning those from Great Britain), reserving this duty to British-trained Army nurses. Neither would colonial nurses be attached to marching columns in the field ambulance role, nor would they be posted to field hospitals just behind the lines.
      The British commanders on the ground took little notice of these instructions. Penelope Frater's group was to be dispersed to various British hospitals, nursing all who were sent, including captured Boers. When Nellie Gould led her 13 down the SS Moravian's gangplank at the Cape Town docks in early February 1900 her orders from the British army medical service were to despatch six nurses just a short distance south to the British General Hospital at Wynberg, and four to the No.2 Stationary Hospital 800 kms on the other side of the Cape on the coast at East London. Nellie Gould, her deputy Julia Bligh Johnston, Penelope Frater and one other were posted to a temporary Stationary Hospital at Sterkstroom, a small inland town on the eastern side of South Africa, about 250 km north west of East London, to serve with the NSW Army Medical Corps. So much for the British War Office's instructions!
      As the tide of the war turned, in March 1900, with the capture of Bloomfontein, NSW nurses were sent to the No. 3 British General Hospital at Kroonstad and No. 2 at Johannesburg. In August four nurses were posted to No.17 Stationary Hospital in the eastern Transvaal at Middelburg and No.6 General at Johannesburg. They were transferred again in September 1901 to No. 25 Stationary at Johannesburg where they stayed until February 1902 when they were posted even further forward, at No. 31 Stationary at Ermelo, a bare hillside at the end of the line of British forts in the Transvaal. The surgical wards were filled with the wounded and victims of accidents, mostly from working with horses and wagons. The larger medical wards were overflowing with patients suffering from typhoid (called enteric fever) and related problems of dysentery. Yellow jaundice and sunburn were perennial, then in 1901 nurses had to treat an enormous number of both soldiers and civilians who had caught measles that raged through the population.
      Other nurses were needed in various repatriation hospitals and were also sent on trains and ships accompanying the sick and wounded.
      One of these 14 NSW nurses, Sister A D M (Bessie) Pocock, was Mentioned in Dispatches.
      Although Peace was declared on 31 May 1902 Penelope and her fellow nurses did not return until August. All nurses who served the full war were awarded both the Queen's [Victoria] South Africa Medal and the King's [Edward VII] South Africa Medal.
      Back in Sydney, Lady Superintendent Nellie Gould and her friend, Superintendent Julia Bligh Johnston, opened a private hospital at Newtown, Sydney, calling it "Ermelo" after their last front-line posting in South Africa. It is probable that Penelope Frater joined them in that venture. Nellie Gould was appointed from 1 January 1901 \endash Federation \endash to run the Commonwealth Australian Army Nursing Service Reserve in New South Wales and was appointed principal matron of the 2nd Military District. Penelope Frater's record shows that she continued as "efficient" in this peacetime Army unit. After "Ermelo" was sold in 1912, both Nellie Gould and Julia Johnston joined the Public Health Department.
      When WW1 broke out Sister Frater, giving her address care of her sister and her mother at Oatlands in the Sutherland Shire, enlisted on 27 September 1914 to join the Army Nursing Service of the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force to serve overseas. Penelope sailed on the Braemar Castle from Alexandria to Marseilles to be part of the British Expeditionary Force at the 3rd Australian General Hospital and in January 1917 she was appointed Head Sister, returning to Australia in October 1918.
      Penelope Frater died 12 Dec 1939, aged 70, only a few months after World War 2 began on 3 September.
      «b»Sources: «i»Bibliography «/b»Murray page 14 The "Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa", compiled and edited for the Department of Defence by Lt.-Col. P. L. Murray RAA (Ret.), Government Printer Melbourne, 1911.
      R L Wallace "The Australians at War", and his later book "Elands River Siege 1900"
      Craig Wilcox's "Australia's Boer War"
      the Canberra War Memorial web site «u»<http://www.awm.gov.au/>«/u»especially «u»<http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_21538south_africa.asp>«/u»
      Jan Bassett. 1992 Guns and Brooches \endash Australian Army Nursing from the Boer War to the Gulf War. Oxford Univ Press Australia
      Australian Women: «u»<http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/gallery/AWE0397g.htm>«/u»
      Frater family history: «u»http://www.rjfrater.com<http://www.rjfrater.com>«/u» Informant: Penelope's Great, great Niece Christine Frater, Gladstone Q.
      «/i»Sister Penelope Frater nurse from New England in NSW who after her Boer War Service became head sister at 3rd Australian General Hospital in WWII.

      «b»Tribute to Service Nurse: - Penelope Frater. Published in The Lamp pages 26/27 December/January 2001. By Elva E Marsh.
      «/b»The photo of the Boer War nursing contingent in the July 2000 issue of The Lamp brought back memories of my Great Aunt's accounts of her nursing experiences in the Boer War and First World War. My Great Aunt Penelope is one of these nurses pictured.
      Penelope Frater, born in Narrabri 1867, had a great desire to train as a nurse. She was accepted as a trainee nurse at Sydney Hospital in 1889 and after much discussion with her parents; they finally consented to her nursing training and paid her fee of $200 per annum. She graduated from Sydney Hospital in 1893 and when regulations for the NSW Army Nursing Reserve were published in 1898, she was one of the first required 24 nursing sisters to join. The nurses were required to have had at least three years post-graduate experience in a hospital, be aged between 24 and 40years and preferably single. Each member was provided with a uniform to the value of $4.00.
      The Boer War broke out in 1899. On 17 Jan 1900, Penelope sailed with a group of 14 other nurses, on the SS Moravain. This was the first group of military nurses sent to any war from Australia, and they were paid $80.00 a year. The nurses were required to provide at their own expense, a type of wallet which was worn around the waist, called a chatelaine. These could cost up to $6.00 (a large outlay for nurses at that time) and contained instruments such as forceps, probes, scissors, spatulas, thermometer, syringes and catheters. My Aunt still had her chatelaine in the 1930's and used some of its contents. The NSW nurses were fortunate in that the government paid their fares, whereas in other states, the nurses had to pay their own passage to Africa.
      Penelope and her contingent arrived in South Africa in February 1900. Some nurses were stationed in Capetown, but Penelope and three other went to a temporary hospital near Stromberg. Here they encountered many typhoid fever patients were the most trying of their nursing careers. The nurses where housed in some very primitive quarters, such as an old corn store in Bullawayo, where they often had rats running over them during the night. The camp hospitals, in which these nurses worked, consisted of tents, with six beds to a tent. One can imagine the difficulty involved in nursing patients, especially at night.
      The war officially ended on 31 May 1903, but Penelope and some of her colleges were still in Ermelo at No.31, British Service Hospital until July. On her return to Australia, Penelope nursed for a time at a private hospital opened by her wartime colleagues Nellie Gould and Julia Bligh. During this time, Penelope and her working colleagues were members of the newly formed Australian Army Nursing Service.
      With the outbreak of World War 1, Penelope sailed to Alexandria, arriving in December 1914. She and her colleagues were soon setting up and working their own unit hospital. They were over whelmed by the number of wounded and found themselves working day and night in extremely crowded conditions. They were trying to accommodate three or four times as many patients as the unit was made to handle. Penelope nursed with many units in the area and on hospital ships, evacuating wounded from Gallipoli. From there she was posted to England, where she and her friends enjoyed two weeks leave, before being posted to Lemnos. The casualties were very high there, and many hospitals lacked basic essentials. The nurses were housed in tents and the food was responsible for some of the illnesses contracted by the hospital staff, including malaria, which was to affect them for the rest of their lives.
      In January she was posted to No.3 Army General Hospital near Cairo, and in May of that year she went with unit to France. They were once again housed in tents, and the nursing was very heavy, as they acted as a casualty clearing station. In March 1918 she returned to Australia on a hospital ship nursing the wounded and continued to nurse them at St George's Heights Military Hospital. In 1919 she was posted to India, where she nursed the wounded at Bangladore before returning to Australia at the end of the year. It was from this hospital that she received her discharge.
      As many of the wounded were in hospital for weeks or even months at a time, my great aunt gave her patients autograph books to write, draw or paint in, as a means to occupational therapy. Some of the artwork in these books was truly amazing and as children we loved to look at her autograph books when we visited.
      After her discharge she worked tirelessly, for her fellow ex-service personnel, some of whom were suffering from service related illnesses and financial problems. She was fortunate to be able to buy herself a house in Cronulla, which was her base in assisting her fellow service personnel with their problems.
      In an unfortunate event, her home was destroyed in a bushfire, taking with it memorabilia from her travels, her war medals and decorations. The only item which wasn't destroyed was one of her occupational therapy books, which she gave to me when I was a young girl. Needless to say it is a most prized possession.
      In appreciation of the work she did to help her fellow service men and women, the Cronulla RSL banded together and rebuilt her house. Unfortunately, two weeks after moving in to her new home, she was admitted to hospital and died on the 12 December 1939. Penelope Frater was cremated and in the Woranora Cemetery there is a headstone commemorating her war service. Sutherland Shire also named Frater's Avenue in her honour.


      Penelope FRATER
      «i» Other Names Penelipe. Religion Presbyterianntbl Occupation Nurse Address 'Oaklands', Illawarra Road, Sutherland, New South Wales Marital status Singlentbl Age at embarkation 44 Next of kin Mother, Mrs Frater, c/o Mrs Faulkiner, 'Oaklands', Illawarra Road, Sutherland, New South Wales Enlistment date 21 September 1914 Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll 20 October 1914 Rank on enlistment Nursing Sister Unit name Australian General Hospital 2, Nursing Service AWM Embarkation Roll number 26/66/1 Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board Transport A55 Kyarra«/i» on 28 November 1914«i» Rank from Nominal Roll Sisterntbl Unit from Nominal Roll Australian Army Nursing Servicen Fate Effective abroad (still overseas) «/i» [5]
    • (Research):See attached sources. [6]

  • Sources 
    1. [S1062] BDM 14449/1869 NSW Penelope Frater.

    2. [S3007] Electoral Roll for 1930 for Penelope Frater.

    3. [S1060] Ref. No. 1939/22151 Death Certificate of Penelope Frater (Copy Held).

    4. [S1061] 1939 Death Certificate of Penelope Frater (Copy Held).

    5. [S902] Published in The Lamp pages 26/27 December/January 2001. By Elva E Marsh..

    6. [S149] This information is taken from and I believe refers to this Penelope: http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0398b.htm.