Staff Nurse Louisa Bicknell ‘As brave as any fighting soldier’

Louisa Bicknell was the first Australian nurse to die whilst on active service in Egypt. ‘Louie’ as she was known, was born at Elmore in 1879 to Eliza Bicknell of Abbotsford, Victoria.  She departed from Sydney on HMAT Kyrarra A55 on the 13th of April, 1915 for Egypt and was posted to the No. 1 Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis.  Within a few weeks of her arrival she died from pyaemia following an incident in one of the hospital’s surgical wards where she sustained a scratch on her hand. 


She was highly regarded for her professional standards. Matron Pilkington wrote “We are in deep grief, she was one of the brightest, healthiest and unselfish nurses I have known. She was as brave as any fighting soldier and said when she was dying “How hard it is to die with so little accomplished, but I would go through it all again to help, and it is all in the game”.

She was buried with full military honours in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, grave reference B. 306. The personal inscription on her headstone read “Peace perfect peace, with loved ones far away, in Jesus keeping, we are safe and they”.


Louisa is commemorated on the Bairnsdale Shire honour roll and on a memorial to overseas nurses who died in the Great War at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in London.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Australian War Memorial ‘A tribute to the men and women of the East Gippsland region’

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