NAME: Evangeline Amelia ROUNTREE
YEAR OF BIRTH: 1884
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hamilton
DATE OF ENLISTMENT: 1915
AGE AT ENLISTMENT: 31
UNIT: Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service
FATE: Returned to Australia – 1918
Born in 1884, Evangeline Rountree was a daughter of Hamilton chemist James Hughes Rountree and Margaret Kitchen. The family lived in Gray Street and Evangeline attended Alexandra College (below) and the Christ Church Sunday School.
Most of Evangeline’s siblings entered a field of medicine and Evangeline chose to nurse. In 1909, she was a probationary nurse at the Hamilton Hospital and completed her exams in Melbourne. There were eighty-two candidates and Evangeline received top marks, taking first place in the order of merit.
In 1915 at the age of thirty-one, Evangeline enlisted with Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and left Australia on 15 December 1915 as a Staff Nurse. She arrived in England on 10 February 1916 and joined the No. 4 General Hospital at Camiers, France. In April 1916, she moved on to the No. 16 General Hospital at Le Treport on the coast west of Amiens. It was there she wrote the following letter to her sister. The place names were censored:
It is simply beautiful here at present. The days are warm, and we sometimes walk along the cliffs to the beach and have a dip in the briny. I wish you could see this place. It is divine and all the beauties of nature are at their height of glory. The fields are full of buttercups, daisies, wild poppies. and cornflowers. Further out towards the horizon one can gaze on the stretch of beautiful blue ocean. Last Sunday I had a half-day off: got away at 2 p.m, and walked to the next village about three miles right along the cliffs. Then I came to beautiful big woods, full of huge trees and lovely flowers yellow wisteria in abundance. The perfume of the flowers and trees was simply beautiful. After a two-mile walk through the forest of — I returned to the little French village of— had a look at a Belgian camp and caught the train home reaching — laden with boughs and flowers for the huts. A flower about cheers up the place for the poor sick Tommies, but all the same I guess they would rather have a cigarette. There is a ‘large hotel within walking distance of — which is used by tourists in the season, and a lovely golf course alongside. The hotel is owned by an English lady who gave it to the French wounded for a hospital early in the war. However it is closed down now and we have some of the wounded French soldiers here, They cannot speak English but try hard to learn. We are busy enough at present in the heavy surgical huts. The poor lads are very wonderful through all their sufferings and some are not only down with one wound but with many and you marvel that their poor tired frames can survive the suffering. However, they do wonderfully and the results are splendid.