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Matron Edith Mary Lewis, Wairau Hospital. c.1942. Matron Lewis married William George Rudd in 1946. Edith Lewis served as a nurse in both WW1 (service number 22/444) and WW2 (service numbers 22/247 & 42593). Marlborough women at war [from The Prow] : Hospital Ships Edith Rudd (nee Lewis) served in World War 1 and World War 2 and was matron of Wairau Hospital for 20 years between the wars. She enlisted with the New Zealand Army Nursing Service (NZANS), sailing from Wellington on the Marama in December 1915, and served in Egypt until 1918. She describes the difficult conditions in her book Joy in the Caring: “The convoys would bring us some heavy cases from the Western Desert and looking back now we think how much could have been done…… had we had some of the modern drugs and advanced knowledge of surgery we have today…it was a continual battle to get good results, especially when the condition of the patient was depleted from malnutrition and sometimes malaria.” On 22 April 1941, the NZHS Maunganui left Wellington for Suez with Matron Lewis on board and in charge of 20 nurses. The ship was converted to carry 390 patients and, by 1945, had transported more than 5,600 patients - mostly home to New Zealand. Matron Lewis became known as 'Momma of the Black Dressing Gown'. At night during blackout conditions, wearing her black silk dressing gown, she checked on her patients in the wards and on the decks. Matron Lewis was awarded campaign medals for both of the World Wars. She also received the highest military nursing award, the Royal Red Cross First (1st Class) in 1944 and, in 1961, she was presented with the highest distinction in nursing, the Florence Nightingale Medal. MATRON'S MEDAL ON DISPLAY AT RSA, written by Kat Duggan for The Marlborough Express 6 March 2015: A rare Florence Nightingale medal and certificate was passed over from the Marlborough branch of the Red Cross to the Marlborough RSA last Thursday. The award was originally presented to Matron Edith Mary Rudd (nee Lewis), who served as matron of Wairau Hospital for 20 years from 1921 until 1941. Matron Rudd received the award in 1961 as an acknowledgement of her work for New Zealand Red Cross and the Army Corps during both world wars. Spending six years nursing off New Zealand shores during the wars, Matron Rudd was first posted to hospital ship, Marama, which delivered her to Egypt, where she spent three years from 1915 to 1918. After her time at Wairau Hospital, Matron Rudd was then appointed Matron of the number 1 New Zealand Hospital Ship, Maunganui, in 1941, on which she served until 1944. Matron Rudd also had close ties to the New Zealand Red Cross Society, becoming a member of the Marlborough branch in 1925, of which she became president in 1952. Matron Rudd received several other awards for her services, including a British War Medal, Victory Medal, Atlantic Star, Pacific Star, Italy Star, War medal, New Zealand War Service Medal, and the 1953 Queen's Coronation Medal. She received a Royal Red Cross Grade 1 award, the highest military nursing award. New Zealand Red Cross president Jenny McMahon, who has a Florence Nightingale medal, presented the Marlborough RSA with Matron Rudd's award last Thursday, at a ceremony attended by about 70 people. The medal will be kept on loan in the Panama Room at the Clubs of Marlborough. The Florence Nightingale medal is the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve, and is awarded to nurses and nursing aides who show "exceptional courage and devotion to the wounded, sick or disabled or to civilian victims of a conflict or a disaster", or "exemplary services or a creative and pioneering spirit in the areas of public health or nursing education". It was instituted in 1912 by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Matron E.M. Lewis, Wairau Hospital. -WW1 MARLBOROUGH SACRIFICE, THE PEOPLE -Copyright Marlborough Museum - Marlborough Historical Society Inc

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Last modified on: November 16, 2015