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Davidson, Ethel Sarah (1872 - 1939)


19 June 1872
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
21 April 1939
Semaphore, South Australia, Australia
Nurse and Servicewoman


Ophaned at the age of five, Ethel Davidson grew up with her half-brothers and sisters - children from her father's first marriage. After completing her nursing training at Adelaide Hospital, she worked in district and private nursing.

In 1904 Davidson became a reserve member of the Australian Army Nursing Service, enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in 1914. During World War I she was stationed at Mena, Cairo, where she was mentioned in despatches. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal, 2nd class, for her nursing service in England and France. On 3 June 1919 Davidson was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (Military) for services to army nursing.

After leaving the army, Davidson became matron of the military hospital at Keswick (SA), a post she held until her retirement in 1933. From 1922 to 1926 she was president of the Returned Army Nurses' Association of South Australia. In 1924 the Association became a sub-branch of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League.

Ethel Davidson never married and died on 21 April 1939. She is buried in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) cemetery, West Terrace, Adelaide.

Sources used to compile this entry: Abbott, Jacqueline, 'Davidson, Ethel Sarah (1872-1939)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 2006,; Coulthard-Clark, Chris, The Diggers : makers of the Australian military tradition, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1993, 369 pp.

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Archival resources

National Archives of Australia, National Office, Canberra

Anne Heywood

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