Sunday, July 23, 2017

Thames (NZ): WWI Nurse Sarah Jane Hetherington

While efforts have been made to find all the nurses from Thames who served in World War One, it was inevitable that we may only have found but a few. While it was easier to find those who trained at Thames Hospital, what about the number who may have trained at other hospitals in New Zealand and overseas?

The latest Thamesite to be found is Sarah Jane Hetherington, the daughter of Samuel and Rebecca Hetherington of Queen Street, Thames. Sarah's father Samuel had the iconic drapery store that stood proudly in central Pollen Street for nearly one hundred years.

Miss Hetherington was born 15 August 1869 at Thames, and attended Mrs Alexander's private school before entering Thames High School (roll No 50) 19 September 1881. Sarah stayed at the school until 15 December 1885.

From the New Zealand Nursing register that was published in the New Zealand Gazettes, it shows that Sarah completed her four years nursing certificate and the London Hospital and her Midwives qualification in 1909. Miss Hetherington returned to New Zealand and was registered in 1910, where she then worked at Wellington Hospital as Sub-Matron April 1910 to 1917. (Gazette copies below)

 Sarah Jane Hetherington proved a little more elusive to track as a military nurse, given the fact that she attested in England. Details of her service are recorded on Sherayl McNabb's website on New Zealand Military Nurses and in her book "100 Years New Zealand Military Nursing New Zealand Army Nursing Service-Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps 1915-2015".

Staff Nurse Hetherington attested 4 August 1917 in England, no 22/432 in the New Zealand Army Nursing Service. (snippets from war file above, full file at New Zealand Archives). New Zealand Cenotaph record also available online.

Hetherington was Sub-Matron at the Victoria Military Hospital Ward in Wellington - it was with sadness at the end of March 1917 that she was farewelled to go overseas.

Miss Hetherington went to England and worked at the New Zealand Hospital at Brockenhurst.
In the Kai Tiaki, 1 January 1918, there was news from abroad. “Miss Hetherington writes from Brockenhurst, where she is stationed as masseuse, having signed on for that useful branch of the N.Z.A.N.S. She says there is so much of this work that is almost impossible to cope with it all. When not busy with her massage work, Sister Hetherington is glad to help in the wards with the nursing."
Shows No.1 Ward at Brockenhurst, No.1 New Zealand General Hospital. The room is decorated with foliage. Two nurses attend patients. There are beds along each side.
From caption on reverse: Masseuse at work with electric battery.

Source: Masterton Library Archive
On the 1st February 1920, Sarah Jane was placed on the Territorial list. Later working as Matron at the Cashmere Sanatorium in Christchurch. Sarah Jane later lived in Wellington before moving north to Takapuna, Auckland. Miss Hetherington died 28 June 1954 aged 84 years, and was cremated at Waikumete Cemetery.  (Death notice and obituary below - Thames Star 29 June 1954)

Miss Hetherington's name appears on the Honours Board for the NZ Returned Army Nursing Sisters Association (Auck) Inc (photo above)