Adele Baker

  • Date/Place of Birth: September 1891, Penrith, NSW
  • Date/Place of Death: 2 March 1966, Victoria 
  • Australian Army Nursing Service
    Enlisted: 20 April 1917
    Discharged: 29 January 1920
  • Memorial Details: Honour Roll, Memory Park, Penrith; Honour Roll, Presbyterian Church, Penrith

Biographical details

Mary Adele Baker was born in 1891, at Penrith NSW, the daughter of Alfred and Sophia Baker (nee Ashbury). After leaving school, Adele (as she was known) completed her nursing training at the Nepean Cottage Hospital. In 1913, the Nepean Times reported the results a second year examination in surgery. Students were asked a range of questions on subjects as diverse as disinfectants, bed sore prevention and treatment, after care of tracheotomy, preparing patients for general operations such as the removal of an appendix, identification of pressure points and arteries, and resuscitating a patient. Nurse Baker was the prize winner in the second year nurses examination receiving 92 in the practical examination and 99 in the vapour examination.

Military Service with AANS

On 24 May 1917, Adele enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) and was appointed a Staff Nurse. She left Melbourne aboard the RMS Mooltan , a mail steamer, along with 300 nurses bound for Salonika. The ship arrived at Suez on 19 July 1917 and the nurses travelled to Cairo via train. On 25 July 1917, Adele left Alexandria aboard the Chagres for Salonika.

On arrival at Salonika, Adele served with a number of British hospitals including 60th, 52nd and 50th General Hospitals. In May 1918, Adele was admitted to the 43rd General Hospital with dysentery and was then sent to a Sisters Convalescent Camp before resuming her nursing duties in July 1918. In August Adele worked at the 42nd and 50th General Hospitals before being hospitalised with influenza. On 13 February 1919, Adele embarked for leave in the United Kingdom aboard HMT Wyreema arriving on 25 February. After her leave, Adele was attached to 1 General Hospital at Sutton Very. In May 1919, Adele was admitted to No 3 Australian Auxiliary Hospital before being transferred to Southwell Gardens Hospital.

On 17 July 1919, Adele embarked on the Orsova and arrived in Sydney on 6 September 1919. Her appointment with the Australian Army Nursing Service was terminated on 29 January 1920.

Mary Adele Baker married Frederick D H B Lawton in 1923. They moved to Victoria. Frederick died in 1961 and Adele Lawton (nee Baker) died on 2 March 1966.

Newspaper article refers to Nurse Baker

Nepean Times 15 November 1915, p5

Our Hospital [excerpt]: Following is a copy of the examinations, second year nurses in surgery have to go through, and the result of the first part of the examination gone through by nurses of the Nepean Cottage Hospital:- (1) Name ten antiseptic agents and the strength in which they are usually employed, (2) What treatment would you adopt for rigor (8 lines). (3) How would you prevent the formation of bed sores (12 lines)? (4) Describe the treatment of bed sores (10 lines). (5) Briefly state how you would prepare a patient for a general operation, eg appendicitis; including treatment of the skin, to take place at 10 am tomorrow? (6) What methods would you adopt to disinfect instruments (24 lines)? (7) Relate in detail the after treatment of tracheotomy (exclusive of feeding). (8) Question for prize – Give details of feeding of a tracheotomy – case, age 10 years.

To be done in Theatre – Select the instrument that you suppose might be required for an amputation of the leg just below the knee joint.

To be done in the Ward – (1) Put up a fracture of the left radius. (2) Demonstrate how to resuscitate a patient who has stopped breathing during the administration of an anaesthetic. (3) mark with a pencil the pressure points and recount the names of the arteries you reckon you place pressure upon.

Result 1, Nurse Baker, practical 92, vapour 99, total 191; 2 Nurse Scahill, 93, 95-188; 3, Nurse Greentree, 99, 88-187; 4, Nurse Bassetti, 90, 93-183.

Nurse Baker was the prizewinner. The marks obtained being very high all the nurses were congratulated by the committee. Dr Higgins, in speaking on the matter, attributed the success to having a highly intellectual matron.

Nepean Times, 13 September 1919, p3 c1

Returned Nurses: Several of the former nursing staff of the local hospital, who enlisted for service abroad, are once more in the land of the Southern Cross. Sisters Greentree and Bassetti returned on the Friedricksruhe, the ex-German boat that brought our own Billy home on the same trip. Sister Major-West (ex-matron of the Nepean Cottage Hospital) and Sister “Dell” Baker returned last Saturday on the Orsova. It will be remembered that Sister West was recently decorated with the Royal Red Cross. She, with Sisters Greentree, Bassetti and Baker, had a lengthy experience with the army at Salonica. Nurse Wilson, formerly a resident of Penrith, who after leaving this district entered the nursing service, also came home on the Friedricksruhe as a passenger.