THREE sisters spoke on Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Sister Nellie Saw, the first World War I hero to be buried in Albany.
Sister Saw left for England with The Royal Australian Military Corps in December 1915.
Not long after, she was sent to France where she worked for six months with the fighting on the Somme.
Her health deteriorated and she developed pneumonia. On returning to England, she made a slow recovery.
The demand for nurses was great and Sister Saw resumed duty too soon until returning home in 1918.
After a long illness related to her service, she died in Albany on March 31, 1919, at the age of 29.
On Sunday at Memorial Park Cemetery, Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington and three of Sister Saw’s great-nieces addressed a gathering of 43 people, including other Saw family members and Member for Albany Peter Watson.
Stepping to a timber lectern, Jenny McCracken (née Saw) acknowledged the Menang Custodians of the land on which the cemetery sprawls.
“We know very little of Nellie in her youth, but do know that when she was a teenager her parents purchased land at Bow Bridge, so some time would have been spent visiting that bush block,” Ms McCracken said.
“Nellie was the first Albany woman to die as a result of World War I.
“In 1922 the citizens of Albany erected this memorial where we stand today.”
Beryl Collier (née Saw) read from two letters written by Sister Saw while on duty at the Australian Voluntary Hospital in Wimereux, France.
“We have been much busier lately, but just today we have not so many patients, as a lot have gone on to England during the last few days,” Sister Saw wrote on September 10, 1915.
“Such a fine lot; one feels that one can never do enough for them after all they have gone through.
“Oh, their dreadful wounds and the wonderful way they stand pain and keep so cheerful.
The third sister, and great-niece, to speak, Cathy Fox (née Saw), said many people lined the streets for Sister Saw’s funeral procession, and dozens more were at the gravesite.
Sister Saw was buried with full military honours. The first tree on the Avenue of Honour along Middleton Road was dedicated to her memory.