Sister Ida Jeanette Moreton was one of twenty trained nurses from New South Wales who volunteered to serve in French hospitals and medical centres during the Great War. Affectionately known as “Bluebirds” they wore a dark blue cloak trimmed in pale “NSW blue”. The Bluebirds served with the French Red Cross and although highly regarded in France, the privately sponsored group received no payment, pensions or official recognition from the Australian Defence Department.

Ida Moreton was born in Moreton, Queensland in 1883. She was the youngest daughter of the Hon. Seymour-Moreton, son of the 2nd Earl of Ducie. Ida was educated at Church of England School in Brisbane and received her training at Sydney Hospital. In July 1916 she left Sydney aboard the troopship Kanangra with a detachment of Australian Red Cross nurses and their French language tutor.

Nurse Moreton served in several military hospitals in France including Palavas, Cannes and Mentone. She returned to Sydney in 1918 and took a nursing position at “Graythwaite” Red Cross Home, North Sydney. Three years later she was appointed matron of “Graythwaite”.

In October 1926 Miss Moreton was appointed matron of Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital, Concord West, succeeding Matron Gertrude Moberley, R.R.C. She was a popular figure and remained in charge at the hospital until her marriage in 1928 to Lt-Colonel Edwin Mayhew Brissenden, MBE, KC.  Tragically she was widowed in 1930 and retired to a quiet life in her home at Woolwich. Ida Brissenden passed away at St Leonards in April 1970.

Lady Beatrice Lillian Moreton, Ida’s aunt, who for a time was matron of St Denis Hospital in Toowoomba, also served as a nurse in Egypt during the Great War.

Andrew West


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