Olive Haynes

Premier’s Anzac Spirit School Prize

by Erin Stubbs, Charles Campbell College


Olive in Lemnos Gear (photograph taken on roof at Ghezireh 1915) We Are Here Too – pg56

Olive in Lemnos Gear (photograph taken on roof at Ghezireh 1915) We Are Here Too – pg56


The 25th of April is a date that resonates with all Australians and New Zealanders. It is a date that symbolizes so much more than a military defeat. Anzac day celebrates the men and women alike who laid down their lives in the hope of achieving peace and a brighter future for all Australians. This was achieved through endless days of battle and struggle, but with the qualities of a true ANZAC it was eventually achieved, but not without consequence. That is why, every year on the 25th of April we hold our heads high and the whole of Australia, men, women and children, spend a minute in sustained silence, in memory of those who gave us our true Australian pride, the Anzac spirit.


Winston Churchill saw the German Alliance as a stool, Germany being the seat and her allies being the legs. If you were to take out the legs of a stool, it would no longer be balanced and fall very quickly. This is what Churchill was trying to achieve with the Gallipoli Campaign. His plan was to launch an attack on Turkey, but first he wanted to gain control of the Gallipoli Peninsula. (The Gallipoli Campagin – online) This control would have enabled troops to invade and occupy Constantinople and with that soon the hopeful downfall of her capital, Turkey. The last phase was to launch an attack on the other legs, Austia-Hungary, this fighting was to take place on the Western Front. To initiate Churchill’s plan he initially called upon 21000 Australian troops and 10000 New Zealand troops, who were combined and trained in Egypt in 1914. Not to mention the over 3000 volunteer based nurses who were also shipped over to care for the fallen men until they were fit for battle once again. These men and women were soon to be known as the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps)


Originally ANZAC was an acronym used by a signaler in Egypt on the 25 April 1915, but since then it has developed and flourished into a word with many meanings.(Spirit of ANZAC- online) The Anzac spirit embodies everything that the Australian forces exhibited at war. Qualities such as courage, endurance, humor, and mate ship and of course an unbroken desire for justice, peace and freedom. But the Anzac spirit is not something that sleeps within the battlefield. It’s at home in our schools and even in our sport. This spirit may not be something you can physically touch but it can very well be felt. It’s in the hot Australian sun that heats our hearts with our freedom. Every unique individual has the freedom to live and think the way that they want to. This spirit burns and will eternally burn in every true Australia and New Zealander’s heart, unvanquished by anyone.


It wasn’t only soldiers who sparked our famous Anzac spirit, it also came from those who fixed and healed the wounded so they could run back and defend their country once again, the nurses. Olive Haynes was born in Adelaide in January 1888. She was the second child, eldest of four daughters to Revered James Crofts Haynes and his second wife Emma nee Creswell. (We Are Here Too – pg 5, Young) Haynes was educated at Tormore, where at the time becoming a “lady” was of more importance than being a scholar. Despite this she was an avid reader, loved music and people and painted very well. All this combined to build her desire to help people. Her parents were not exactly enthusiastic when she chose to train as a nurse, however despite this she commenced training in October 1909 at the Adelaide Hospital at the age of 21, and finished in October 1912. She then became a charge nurse until the 31st December 1912, afterwards she became a private nurse and switched between nursing and holidaying. The nursing conditions came as quite a shock to Haynes since she grew up with servants, plenty of good food, time for socializing, hobbies and privacy, however nursing hours started early and finished late with little pay and very little time off. Despite this she loved her work she considered it her duty to help people, she then enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service August 1914 at the age of 26. (See Source 1.)

Source 1 - Olive Hayne’s previously enlisted form for service abroad

Upon enlisting Haynes joined the AANS along with 30 other nurses who all embarked in the second group departing nurses from Australia to Egypt, leaving Adelaide by train to Melbourne on the 26th of November 1914 to then embark to Alexandra the chief port of Egypt on the S.S “Kyarra”. (We Are Here Too – pg 13, Young) Conditions on the S.S. Kyarra was extremely overcrowded, sanity and hygiene arrangements were very elementary, and facilities for preservation for fresh food were most inadequate, all allowing a number of infections on board which kept the nurses endless busy, sometimes even looking after one of their own, since nurses are just as vulnerable to disease as anyone else. They finally arrived in Alexandra on the 14th of January to find themselves to be extremely busy indeed. Right up until May 92 sister in total attended to 500 to 600 patients a day, the patient number increased to 1,427 after causalities from the Gallipoli landings began to arrive. (We Are Here Too – pg51, Young) They then moved to Mena House, Cairo on the 20th of January and continued to heal the wounded and play their roll in this dreaded war. She remained in Cairo until her and 15 other sisters were shipped off to Lemnos on the S.S. “Assaye” and arrived on the 17th of September but found so many battleships, destroyers, submarines and hospitals that it was too rough to be taken ashore, it was not until a day later they officially stepped foot on the land.

Source 2 - Map of ship path from Lemmos to Gallipoli

Source 2 – Map of ship path from Lemmos to Gallipoli

Lemnos was a basic and inhospitable camp which had been chosen for the embarkation of troops for Gallipoli and as a respite and clearing station for the sick and wounded for the Peninsula. The description of Lemnos was summed up perfectly in a diary entry written by Olive on the 19th of September, only two days from arriving in Lemnos. “On duty. Plenty to do – poor old chaps lying everywhere” ( O. Haynes, Young 1991) When they had originally landed in Lemnos, there wasn’t even sheets to lie the ill and wounded on. Olive cared deeply for all of those she cared for and it hurt her not to have the proper resources to help those who needed it. There were days when they didn’t even have water for the wounded let alone the soldiers and often the simple furniture they had like beds broke in half and they spent the night on the floor. The battles against the weather conditions were constant with little protection and some days were worse that others.

22nd October “…Wind blowing – can hardly walk and cold – urg! It was hard work struggling between the tents – it rained and we are freezing. Half rations still. Six (sisters) ill now and 18 orderlies. If the wind keeps up our tent will blow down, Im sure.” ( O. Haynes, Young 1991)

Despite this Haynes recorded that even though the conditions were primitive, everyone was so good to the nurses and did all that they could to help. This gave her the spirit to continue everyday knowing that it was not only she that was working hard, everyone was in this war together. Haynes stayed here and made many close friends and became attached to the good men there, however by January 1916 it was time for them to head back to Eygpt.

21st January 1916 “…When we got back to ships we were told we were to go up to Cairo,

back to our original units, the next day. We were so sorry to be leaving No.1 Stat.” ( O. Haynes, Young 1991)

From this point Haynes continued to constantly move, she was shifted from Ghezireh to Luxor to Ghezireh again to Heliopolis and then finally to France were she stayed in a number of places behind the lines.Olive Haynes experience is a brilliant reflection of the Anzac spirit. She wrote countless entries personally in her diary and letter upon letters about her experiences during WW1, not sugar coating but merely stating the facts. She and many other nurses worked day and night through treacherous conditions, caring for the brave Australian soldiers that had fallen at Gallipoli, often the nurses became casualties themselves from illness, nevertheless they never lost hope, they still had bright days and continued to make ever lasting friendships. Proof of this is an diary entry made on Christmas Day 1915.                                               

25th December 1915 “Had a very nice Xmas after all. Pretty busy getting bases off in the morning. Gave pts. dinner and had a decent dinner ourselves. Three bombs dropped in the afternoon but no harm done. Lots came to tea with us in our mess tent.” ( O. Haynes, Young 1991)

This entry embraces honesty, bravery, care, hope and endurance. All qualities that a true ANZAC posses. Which just goes to prove that it was not only soldiers that contributed to what is now a core part of what it means to be Australian.


For references please view this PDF