Born in St George, Sister Norma Violet Mowbray served as a staff nurse during the First World War with the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) leaving from Brisbane with the No 1 Australian General Hospital on board HMAT A55 Kyarra on 21 December 1914.
Sadly, she died from pneumonia in Cairo on 21 January 1916 at the age of 32. The Australian War Memorial has a photograph of her grave in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.
The Brisbane Public Curators Office managed her intestate estate and some of the documents in her file have recently been included in our Going to War exhibition. Intestacy files contain a variety of documents including official documents about assets and liabilities but they can also unearth personal letters from family members or other unexpected items.
Included in Norma Mowbray’s file is an outstanding bill from Miss Idas Dresses and Mantles, an Egyptian business that made nurses’ uniforms. A letter accompanies the bill addressed to Norma’s family asking for payment of £2 15 5.
The intestacy record also indicates that Norma had two insurance policies. Norma defaulted on a payment to the first insurance policy made on 3 October 1909 through Mutual Life and Citizens’ Assurance Company Limited. Due to the defaulted payment, Mutual Life and Citizens’ Assurance Company did not pay on the policy.
The second insurance policy did pay out and her file reveals that Sister Mowbray left her mother £37 08 from that insurance policy while her sisters Mina, Eileen and Elizabeth were left £49 1 96 from her bank account.
A look at our index to the Register of nurses with examination results reveals that Eileen Mowbray, younger sister of Norma, applied for midwifery in 1917, a year after her sister’s unfortunate death.
Why not come to QSA and check out our First World War exhibition? We’d love to see you.