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Clare Deacon

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Clare Deacon

Awarded for service to Health

Born: 1891

Died: 1952

Entered on roll: 2006

Clare Deacon was born in 1891 at Pipers River, Tasmania. She had three sisters and a brother.

Her aunt and uncle raised Clare and her youngest sister, Henrietta after the early death of their mother.

From an early age Clare spoke of her ambition to be a nurse upon her completion of school. She became a trainee nurse at the Royal Hobart Hospital and after completing her exams had a few years’ experience before World War I was declared. Clare was one of the first nurses from the Royal Hobart Hospital to offer her services and she embarked for Egypt on the Kyarra with the first contingent.

On reaching Egypt Clare was deployed to Mena House, a palace converted into a hospital, in Cairo, near the pyramids, and the training grounds for the Australian Light Horse Regiments.

Clare nursed many of the wounded from Gallipoli through the hot summer in scorching temperatures reaching 117ºF at a time when nurses had to wear ankle-length uniforms.

In 1915, Clare was promoted to Sister and relocated to England before being sent to France to join the 2 nd Australian General Hospital. As many wounded were dying on the way to the hospital, it was decided to move doctors and nurses nearer to the front line.

On the night of 22 July 1917, while Clare was serving with the 2 nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station at Trois Arbres near Armentieres, an air raid warning was sounded. Rather than taking shelter in the bunkers Clare, who was off duty at the time, and two other nurses ran into the hospital to rescue patients. They risked their lives by evacuating them from the burning buildings while the station was being bombed.

Later in England, Clare was awarded the Military Medal which was personally pinned on by King George V. Only seven nurses out of 2,600 serving Australian nurses received this distinction. Clare was the only Tasmanian woman to receive this medal.

She was also awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and is listed in the Dictionary of Biography of notable Australians.

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