CONTINUING the story of Pearl Corkhill, an army nurse who had served in the Great War in Egypt before being posted to France.
PEARL Corkhill was awarded a Military Medal in August, 1918, for her courage and devotion, and she wrote the following letter to her mother about it.
“Today word came that I has been awarded the MM. Well the Co sent over a bottle of champagne and they all drank my health and now the medical officers are giving me a dinner in honour of the event. I can't see what I have done to deserve it but the part I don't like is having to face old George and Mary to get the medal. It will cost me a new mess dress, but I suppose I should not grumble at that – I'm still wearing the one I left Australia in.”
This letter shows what a down-to-earth woman Pearl was, who wasn't at all impressed at having to meet King George V and Queen Mary - “face old George and Mary”.
The day following the action where she won the medal, Pearl was posted to the 1st Australian General Hospital, and went on leave in the United Kingdom. She was promoted to the rank of Sister on October 1, and returned to Australia on January 24, 1919.
Pearl took up a position as senior sister at the Bega District Hospital in 1951.
One of the memories Betty Koellner has of Pearl was when Betty was in the maternity ward, the first building you come to as you drive up Corkhill Place.
“I was in labour all night and walked out on the verandah to see a little old lady pulling out weeds. She came in and said she was going to give me a needle. I said, 'I'm not getting a needle from a gardener!’ Sister Corkhill then came in, washed her hands and I had the baby.
Kevin Umback recalled that she was affectionately known as “Corky”.
Bob, a suitor of one of the nurses in the nurses' home, remembers “Corky” in a different light. He said that when the nurses finished their shift at 10pm each night, she would allow them 30 minutes to see their boyfriends, mostly waiting in cars outside the Nurses' Quarters. Right on the dot of 10.30pm she would lock the door and there would be a scurry of nurses racing to get back in.
She retired in 1961.
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