Launceston Historical Society president gives talk on great aunt

CURIOUS: Launceston Historical Society president Marion Sargent says she is constantly learning about her great aunt's history.

CURIOUS: Launceston Historical Society president Marion Sargent says she is constantly learning about her great aunt's history.

Growing up in Devonport in the 1970s, Marion Sargent was shocked to discover her lineage dated back to the First World War.

The former Launceston LINC librarian found out through a relative that her great aunt, Amy Sargent, had worked as a nurse during the First World War. 

The 59-year-old said she begun investigating during the mid-1970s – and has since collected dozens of photographs, albums, letters, newspaper clippings, and postcards. 

Ms Sargent is now the current president of the Launceston Historical Society, and gave a talk on Sunday detailing her great aunt’s history. 

“I was interested in the people who lived here in Tasmania, and the women in particular, because they don’t get recognised as much and Amy had a really fascinating story,” she said.

“Her sister has as well, because she was a photographer, which is very unusual to have her own business in those early days.”  

The history of Amy Sargent: an adventurous nurse:

  • Ms Sargent was born in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England, in March 1877
  • The family moved to Launceston in 1890 and lived there for 21 years
  • War was declared in August, 1914, while Ms Sargent had moved to Sydney and was working at the Sydney Homeopathic Hospital
  • In December 1915, she enlisted as a staff nurse for the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve
  • She would later leave from Wynyard to join the troopship Karoola which took her to Egypt. Soon, she was on her way to England and would later work in France 
  • Amy died at the Lachlan Park Hospital, New Norfolk, in July 1950 

Ms Sargent said she moved to Launceston in 1991, where she saw out the rest of her career as a librarian at the Launceston LINC. 

“I did a lot of research there, it was my work and my hobby as well.” 

“You just keep finding things, always adding to the story, you’re never finished researching family history, it just keeps growing.” 

Ms Sargent said she also had the war records and postcards her great aunt bought in France. 

Ms Sargent with a coat her great aunt may have used up to 1944.

Ms Sargent with a coat her great aunt may have used up to 1944.

“She worked in surgical and medical wards, a German fracture ward and the operating theatre.”

She said the most fascinating part of Ms Sargent’s history was finding out about her war service.

“I never met her, my dad did, but she never talked about the war. I think it probably affected her it would have been really traumatic.” 

“She had 50 injured soldiers in a ward to care for, but she had to do it, she’d signed up to serve.” 

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