Unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Services 

 Search  &  Help Recruits Military History Hall of Heroes Indigenous Slouch hat + ARMY Today Uniforms Badges

 Colours & Flags Weapons Food Equipment Assorted Medals Armour Navy Air Power 

Nurses - Medical Tributes Poetry - Music Posters & Signs Leaders The Enemy Humour Links Killing Anzac

Click to escape. Subject to Crown Copyright
Category: Assorted/Heroes

Click to go up one level

Alice (Alys) ROSS-KING MM, AARC, MiD

ROSS-KING, ALICE (1891-1968), was born on 5 August 1891 at Ballarat, Victoria, daughter of a storekeeper. Baptized Alys Ross, she normally used the more common spelling of her first given name. The family moved to Perth when she was very young. There her father and two brothers were drowned in an accident on the Swan River; soon after Alice and her mother settled in Melbourne.

Although a Protestant, Alice King was educated first at the Academy of Mary Immaculate (Convent of Mercy), Fitzroy, and at Presbyterian Ladies' College. Not being old enough to begin nursing training, she worked for some time assisting the matron of the Austin Hospital, Melbourne, with general duties. During a typhoid epidemic she helped staff at the Alfred Hospital and stayed on to start training. Having gained her certificate, she remained there, becoming sister, night superintendent and acting matron. Before World War I Alice King was a theatre sister and in charge of a private hospital in Collins Street.

She enlisted as a staff nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service, Australian Imperial Force, on 5 November 1914; her surname was hyphenated to Ross-King to distinguish her from another Alice King in the A.A.N.S. She embarked from Brisbane on 21 November with the 1st Australian General Hospital, bound for Egypt. Her appointment as sister, A.A.N.S., was effective from that date. On arrival in Egypt the 1st  A.G.H. was established at Heliopolis, Cairo. Soon after, Alice Ross-King and a group of nurses were sent to Suez to occupy an evacuated French convent orphanage as a clearing hospital for casualties from Gallipoli. Later in 1915 she returned to Australia on transport duties, nursing the wounded; she later returned to Egypt with S troopship carrying reinforcements.

In April 1916 the 1st A.G.H. was sent to France and established at Rouen. Sister Ross-King remained with it throughout the Somme offensive until detached to the 10th Stationary Hospital on 7 June 1917 at St Omer. On 17 July she was sent forward to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station close to the trenches at Trois Arbres near Armentieres. On the night of 22 July the C.C.S. was bombed. Although close to the railway line the hospital had never been attacked before and Ross-King was following an orderly along the duckboards when five bombs hit the hospital, the first falling directly ahead of her. In her diary she describes the horror and carnage that followed and it was for her bravery during the attack that she was awarded the Military Medal. The citation praised her 'great coolness and devotion to duty' during that night.
Ross-King was one of only seven nurses of the A.A.N.S. to be awarded the Military Medal during World War I.

Bombing raids continued on the C.C.S. during the next few weeks and the 3rd Battle of Ypres was taxing for the staff. On 18 November she was posted back to the 1st A.G.H. at Rouen. On Christmas Day she was mentioned in dispatches and on 31 May 1918 was awarded the Associate Royal Red Cross. The 1st  A.G.H. transferred to England on 9 January 1919 and that month Ross-King embarked for return to Australia. Her A.I.F. appointment ended on 17 September.

During the voyage home she had met a doctor, Sydney Theodore Appleford, whom she married in August. They settled at Lang Lang, South Gippsland. According to her daughters, Alice Appleford was a very private person and never talked about her war experiences.

In the late 1930s she trained Volunteer Aid Detachments in the Gippsland area. By 1940 she and her family had moved back to Melbourne, living at Essendon. She enlisted for full-time duty with the V.A.D.s and her husband was commissioned as a medical officer in the army. By 1942 the V.A.D.s had developed into the Australian Army Women's Medical Services and Alice Appleford was commissioned as a major and appointed senior assistant controller for Victoria. Untiring in her devotion to duty and hard work, with responsibility for some 2000 servicewomen, her organizing skills had great impact on fund-raising activities during World War 111. She was fully committed in assisting Red Cross and Service charities, supporting war widows and children and demonstrating concern for the well-being of members of the A.A.W.M.S.
Florence Nightingale Medal Alice Appleford was awarded the Florence Nightingale medal in 1949 by the International Red Cross. Her citation is descriptive of her character: 'no one who came in contact with Major Appleford could fail to recognise her as a leader of women. 

Her sense of duty, her sterling solidity of character, her humanity, sincerity, and kindliness of heart set for others a very high example'. Alice Appleford died on 17 August 1968 at Cronulla, Sydney.

LORNA M. FINNIE [ 11:459-60]


Statistics : Over 35 million page visitors since  11 Nov 2002  



 Search   Help     Guestbook   Get Updates   Last Post    The Ode      FAQ     Digger Forum

Click for news

Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces