Lesson 3: The nurses of Gallipoli


When we think of Gallipoli, we often think of the soldiers who fought in battle. However, more than 3000 Australian civilian nurses also volunteered to go to war. Many of these women volunteered, not just to help the war effort, but to gain independence and travel the world. Others wanted the chance to be closer to loved ones.

The first group of nurses left Australia in September 1914 and throughout the war, nurses were present wherever Australian troops were stationed. This included Vladivostok, Burma, India, the Persian Gulf, Egypt, Greece, Italy, France and England.

These nurses made a significant contribution to the war effort and their statistics are noteworthy:

  • 2139 served overseas
  • 423 served in Australia
  • 25 died
  • 388 were decorated
  • 8 military medals were awarded for bravery and courage.

In this lesson, students will reflect on World War I nurses, including the services they provided and the many hardships they faced. This will assist students in forming an opinion on the importance of remembering all of those who served in World War I.

Links to Australian Curriculum


  • Use historical terms and concepts.
  • I dentify questions to inform a historical inquiry.
  • I dentify and locate a range of relevant sources.
  • Explore the contribution of individuals and groups to the development of Australian society.

Learning outcomes

Participating in this lesson will help students to achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Students will reflect on the importance of the World War I nurses and the services they provided.
  • Students will use their knowledge and experiences to discuss the various tasks that World War I nurses may have undertaken.


You will need:

  • computers with internet access
  • YouTube video ‘The Rose Of No Man’s Land’ Sung By Henry Burr (3:14) www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHFO2FSxg_8
  • ‘Nurses of World War I mind map’ activity sheet
  • ‘The Rose Of No Man’s Land lyrics’ (IWB format)
  • Writing books or lined paper
  • The following websites for further information:


Lesson steps

Please note: Some of the content in this lesson may be upsetting for students. It is advised that teachers use their discretion when selecting the proposed activities for use in their classroom.

As a class, discuss any words, people or ideas that come to mind when students think of ‘The Gallipoli Campaign’. Record these responses.

Assess the list and see whether the word, ‘Nurses’ was added. If it was, ask the student who contributed the word to expand on their idea. If not, add the word and ask students what they know about nurses during times of war. Why do students think this word did not appear on the original list?

Explain that often the work of the nurses who served in World War I is not acknowledged, or as well documented, as the work of the soldiers. Why do students think this is the case?

Using the internet, on an IWB, conduct an image search for ‘World War I Nurses’. Ask students to view these images and use the ‘Nurses of World War I mind map’ to record any words or phrases that come to mind.

Now view and listen to the YouTube video, ‘The Rose Of No Man’s Land’ sung by Henry Burr. Ask students to share some of the thoughts they had from watching the video. Explain that this song was written as a tribute to the Red Cross Nurses at the front lines of World War I. Students to add any new words to the ‘Nurses of World War I mind map’ after listening to the lyrics. Display the ‘The Rose of No Man’s Land lyrics’ (IWB file) as a reference.

Students to have some ‘free writing’ time to reflect on their learning about the nurses who served in World War I.


  • What duties do you think the nurses had to perform?
  • What hardships do you think the nurses had to face?
  • Why do you think it is important for the nurses to be remembered?

Additional cross-curricular activities

Here are some suggested extra activities to extend the students’ learning.


  • Students to research some of the titles (or nicknames) that Gallipoli nurses were given (e.g. ‘Front-line angels’) and discuss why they may have been applied to them.


  • Students to discover the history of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps.
  • Students to choose a nurse from the Gallipoli campaign (such as Alice Appleford (nee Ross-King) or Ella Tucker) to research.
  • Compare the duties and practices of nurses who served in Gallipoli compared with nursing today. What are the similarities and differences? Complete a Venn diagram to show your findings.


  • On a world map, mark the locations where the Australian nurses served during World War I.