Annie Maynard Westcott 1875 – 8th May 1951
Ballarat and WWI nurse

Annie Maynard Westcott was born in 1875 at Leigh Creek to a well known family whose market gardens and orchards supplied Ballarat’s population of 60,000 with fresh fruit, vegetables, and ‘a range of excellent jams’, leading to the property’s nickname “The Jam Factory”.

In 1899, at the age of 24, Annie commenced her nursing training at Ballarat Base Hospital, and after graduating worked in Ballarat and Maryborough before becoming matron at Maldon and Inglewood. Working conditions were often challenging, but the long shifts and dilapidated nurses’ quarters prepared her for the greater challenges that awaited her near the battlefields of Gallipoli and France.

At the age of 40, Annie joined the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) and arrived in Egypt in 1915 to help nurse the sick and wounded soldiers being evacuated from Gallipoli. Stationed at the 1st Australian General Hospital in the Grand Heliopolis Palace Hotel in Cairo, conditions were harsh and difficult, forcing the hospital to expand into the neighbouring Luna Park where the ticket office became an operating theatre and the skating rink and skeleton wards to accommodate up to 1500 casualties.

To join the AANS women had to be unmarried and between the ages of 21 and 40, Annie’s overseas service was cut short due to her age. On January 21st 1916 she left from Suez aboard the Commonwealth, nursing soldiers who were being returned home, continuing to service with AANS until February 1917 when she married Frederick Smith and moved to Gippsland.

She later returned to Ballarat where she died in 1951. Although buried in the Old Cemetery with other family members, her name was not recorded. In 2016, the Trust and the Ballarat Base Hospital Trained Nurses League joined forces to hold a commemorative service in Annie’s honour and all the forgotten nurses of WWI.