Anzac Day: Nurses divided by generations meet

Categories: General News

A World War Two nurse and a current squadron leader have met for the first time as part of the annual Anzac Appeal, which aims to highlight the role of Australia’s women in uniform.

Despite being born at the opposite ends of the 20th century, Betty Cornford and Rebekah Herron have a lot in common.


Both women are nurses, with Mrs Cornford serving in WWII and Ms Herron continuing to wear the uniform today.

The pair also share an understanding of life in war zones.

“A number of injuries every day… it was mainly rifle shooting wounds,” Mrs Cornford recalled to 9NEWS, while Ms Herron spoke about wearing body armour in an aircraft and flying into a war zone.

“You say to yourself, ‘how did I get here?’,” she said.

Meeting for the first time this month, the veterans discovered they had followed similar paths around the world.

Mrs Cornford served in Palestine and New Guinea; more recent conflicts and humanitarian needs saw Ms Herron also serving in the middle east and the pacific.

It was in a Port Moresby hospital that Mrs Cornford was introduced to a young soldier fresh off the Kokoda track named Dudley Cornford. It wasn’t a regular courtship, with Mr Cornford confined to a hospital bed.

She helped him recuperate from malaria, and it wasn’t before long the soldier asked her to marry him.

Mrs Cornford proudly brings her medals out on Anzac Day – recalling those no longer with her, including her husband.

Seventy years on, she said hasn’t given up hope of peace one day breaking out on our troubled planet.

“I’m not a believer in war… I’d like to see more effort at different countries getting on.”

For Ms Herron, Anzac Day is an occasion to reflect on those returned servicemen and women who’ve carried the physical and mental trauma of war home.

We pick them up, fix them and bring them home. Then they go back into the community, and need organisations like the RSL to take them under their wing,” she said.

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