Thelma Moxham RRC

Posted on 16 March 2022

A small number of Australian nurses have received the Royal Red Cross (RRC) Medal. This is a military honour rewarded in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries for exceptional services in military nursing. One of the recipients of this military honour was Thelma Moxham.

The Australian War Memorial has a number of photos and items in regards to Thelma Moxham, including a studio portrait of 501071 Senior Sister Thelma "Thel" Minnie Childs (nee Moxham) RRC RAAF and her husband, NX57501 Captain Frederick "Fred" Harold Childs MC, 24th Battalion, taken on the day of his investiture  for the Military Cross at Government House on 16 February 1946. With the photo is information about their early life and military service. 

Thelma Moxham was born in Singleton NSW on 12th July 1914, the fifth of six children of Henry and Minnie Moxham. In 1922 after her father's death during the 1919 Spanish Flu epidemic, the family moved to Dubbo NSW. Thelma attended Dubbo Public School and Dubbo High School. In 1931 she became the girls school captain at Dubbo High School. Thelma was quite a good sports person. At the end of 1931 she received sporting blues in hockey and basketball and a pocket in athletics. She successfully completed the 1931 Leaving Certificate at Dubbo High School. Thelma then undertook nurse training, graduating as a nurse at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney in 1937, and was invited onto the staff at the hospital. 

Thelma Moxham enlisted in the RAAF as a nurse on 10 March 1941. Between January and June 1943 she was sent on special medical escort duty to the England and Canada via USA. Thelma served in New Guinea between July 1943 and December 1944. In early 1945 she returned to Australia and served as the Acting Matron at 'Rona' , No3 RAAF Hospital, Bradfield Park, Sydney. Her appointment in the RAAF Nursing Service was terminated due to her marriage to Captain Frederick Childs MC on 6th November 1945. 

In 1946 Thelma was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal. The citation for Thelma's RRC Medal, a copy of which is in her service records, reads : " Matron Moxham was appointed to the Royal Australian Air Force Service in March 1941, and served at various R.A.A.F. units and hospitals until selected for special escort duty to Canada and the United Kingdom in January 1943. After returning from this duty she was given charge of No.21 Medical Clearing Station in October , 1943, and served as Senior Sister of that unit until 20th December, 1944.

During this period of service at Port Moresby, she displayed outstanding administrative ability and nursing skill, and it was due to her ability to teach and obtain the maximum of skilled and efficient service from those working under her that the high degree of nursing efficiency was maintained at the unit.

By her own outstanding example at all times, Matron Moxham has maintained the high ideals of the nursing profession under conditions which often were most arduous."