Selfless Devotion and Sacrifice
As Australia moved towards Federation the individual states still maintained their own defence forces. While the political leaders of the soon-to-be Federated nation met to work out the details of the birth of Australia’s nationhood, on the other side of the Indian Ocean tensions were increasing between the British and the Boer Republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. In October 1899, the British government requested Australian support and the states began to raise units to go to South Africa.
One of the units raised was the Victorian Bushmen, the third contingent of which left Australia in March 1900, arriving in Rhodesia, South Africa in April. Accompanying the men were ten Australian nurses, one of whom was Sister Frances ‘Fanny’ Hines. The nurses were moved around to wherever seemed to have the greatest need of their services. They frequently worked only in pairs and sometimes alone, in terrible conditions. Disease was rife and most of their patients were victims of disease not due to action against the Boers. Nurses often had to improvise bedding and bandages, sometimes using their own clothing to do so.
Sister Hines was working alone at Enkeldoorn, in what is now Zimbabwe. She had responsibility for more than twenty patients and her work was arduous and challenging. Limited supplies placed great demands on the nurses and Sister Hines worked in primitive and overcrowded conditions. As well as tending to the medical needs of her patients, like many other nurses, she also had to clean, and to cook meals for the sick. It was almost inevitable that, run down and without sufficient nourishment, debilitated due to her arduous service, she would fall ill. On 7th August 1900, in Memorial Hospital Bulawayo, Sister Frances Hines succumbed to Pneumonia, although some sources have suggested that she also suffered from Enteritis. She was the only Australian nurse to die during service in the Boer War.
No matter the cause of her death, Sister Hines perished because of her selfless service. Hers is one of the 589 names listed on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour for the South African conflict. She is buried in Bulawayo General Cemetery, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
- Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P11012815