Valetta, the daughter of Edwin and Elizabeth Horswill, was born in the Inverell district in 1890. Her sister, Elsie, and brothers Vernon and James were also born in the district where their Cornish born father was involved in the mining industry. Some time before 1900 the family moved to Western Australia.
Valetta trained as a nurse at Kalgoorlie and by 1911 was employed at a Government Hospital in Western Australia. During August 1915 she was appointed Head Nurse at Maryborough Hospital in Queensland. By May 1917 she had accepted the position of Matron at Lismore Hospital in NSW. In November that year she applied to serve with the Australian Army Nursing Service and departed Australia two months later. Upon arrival in England she was attached to the No 2 AAH where she worked until May 1919 when she was sent to 3 AAH until her departure for Australia the following month.
After the War, Valetta continued her nursing career, working for fourteen years at Graythwaite Red Cross Convalescent Home at North Sydney before becoming the first Matron at the Lady Gowrie Red CRoss Home at Gordon. Valetta did not marry and died in Sydney in 1965.
Valetta's two brothers, James and Vernon also served during World War 1. James enlisted in 1915 at age eighteen and served in Egypt with the Australian Stationary Hospital No 2 until returning home in November 1918. Vernon enlisted at age twenty two and served in Egypt and at Gallipoli. He was awarded the DCM for gallantry in the Dardanelles and returned home in January 1916.
Did the experiences of James and Vernon influence Valetta's decision to enlist?
Image: Matron Horswill from Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 6 July 1929 courtesy Trove newspapers
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