Nov 10, 2020

WWII nurse Liz Astley, 98, will wear her medals proudly this Remembrance Day


Liz Astley, 98, served as a nurse during World War II. She has shared her story with HelloCare.

“I was nursing in the Pacific 2nd 6th AGH – Australia General Hospital. Coincidentally my Father was injured at Gallipoli in the first world war and he ended up convalescing in the AGH. 

“We spent some time in the Atherton Tablelands around Rocky Creek and Milanda (in Queensland) before being shipped off to various Islands in the Pacific to nurse.

Air sirens while aboard a ship in the Pacific 

“[I remember] the air-raid sirens – they terrified me, particularly when you are on a ship in the middle of the Pacific. 

“I remember one night I had just come off night duty and the sirens went off and I tried to get under my camp stretcher which of course, in hindsight would have offered no protection at all and was also impossible to get under as it was so low.    

“I remember vividly that the palm trees had tin foil wrapped around the coconuts and parts of the trees to upset the radars from the Japanese planes.

Life-long friendships

“Oh, the friendships were life-long. We had three to a tent and our tent and the girls from the next tent had a most wonderful time – but most of that has to remain a secret. 

“I do remember one day we took a group of the walking patients to one of the lakes nearby. I had my bathers and so dived into the lake most confidently. The “boys” were up on the dock nearby watching us. As I surfaced the water with a miraculous wave of my arms I realized that my bathers had rolled down to my waist. It was just one of the many embarrassing moments in my life.”

End of war celebrated quietly 

“I don’t remember that we celebrated [the end of the war] as there were still so many injured patients to look after. I was still in the Army. I remember seeing the footage of the man dancing down the street. I think some of us just celebrated quietly in our own way.

“On Remembrance Day I just remember all my Army friends. I am the only one still alive from our group.  We used to celebrate by meeting up in the city, but that gradually fell away as each one passed away .

“We will be holding a Remembrance Day service in our theatre room [at Carnegie Arcare]. And although it pertains to World War I, I and some of the other residents will proudly wear our medals from WWII and reflect and remember all our pals that we loved so dearly.  

“It’s hard to believe but next April I will be 99 years young.”      

Ed: Liz celebrated her 90th birthday by going skydiving with her granddaughter.


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