Red silk nurse's cape, worn by Sister Selina Lily (Lil) Mackenzie during World War I. Lil nursed at the 1st Australian General Hospital (AGH) from October 1915 to January 1917. The 1st AGH was located in the Heliopolis Palace Hotel on the north-eastern edge of Cairo.
The cape style is modelled on the Queen Anne Imperial Nursing Service cape. A wool version was worn in winter and a cotton version in summer, and a red silk cape was worn with a grey silk nurse's uniform. The cotton cape was known as a 'washing cape' (ie. it was washable).
Short, lightweight red silk cape. Seams on shoulder. Border of red silk around central opening and hem. Small fabric panel of red and blue cotton stitched to left breast.
This collection provides an important insight into the role of women (in this instance nurses) who served during World War I, and is being collected as a possible story line for the planned centenary of WWI celebrations. Sister Selina Lily (Lil) Mackenzie served in Egypt, France, Italy and England between 1915 and 1920. A keen photographer, Lil took images of her time in Egypt; the photographs were carefully placed in albums, and chronicle the hospital at which she served (in a grand hotel, and Luna Park Cairo). The camera on which these images were taken is part of this collection, the inside of the leather case bearing Lil's name with the date 1915 and location Cairo, Egypt. Also donated in this group are Lil's nursing capes, one made of a very light-weight silk (necessary in the extreme heat of Egypt); buttons carefully removed from her uniforms and kept by the family; and souvenirs from Egypt. Lastly, three hand-towels, woven by Lil when a resident of RSL House (a retirement home) in her 80s are included in the group.
Photographs of Cairo, taken on the camera being donated in this group, have been offered to the museum by another family member.
Donation from Rosemary McArthur, 29 May 2010
Type of item
670 mm (Width), 324 mm (Height)
Information on cape styles from researcher Susan Kellett (herself a former army nurse).