Topic: Alicia Mary Chipper (nee Kelly) (1874-1942)

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Alicia Kelly nursed hundreds of wounded from Gallipoli. While nursing at the No. 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station (3ACCS) in Ypres she refused to leave her patients during heavy shelling. Alicia was awarded the Military Medal ‘for gallantry displayed on the occasion of hostile air raids on casualty clearing stations’. She also received the French Croix de Guerre (War Cross) and in January 1918 the Royal Red Cross. Known by her family as 'Loll', she was my second great aunt, sister of my great grandfather, Thomas Henry Kelly - Debbie McCauley (2013).

Alicia Mary Kelly (1874-1942)

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Alicia Mary Kelly was born at Cloonbur No1, Oughterard, Galway in Ireland on 16 September 1874. Her parents were Richard and Bridget Jane Kelly (nee Bell) who married in Wicklow, Ireland, on 8 April 1858. Alicia was the youngest of ten children:

  1. Elizabeth Annie Kelly (c1859-1922). 
  2. Thomas Henry Kelly (c1862-1942). Joined the Royal Irish Constabulary. Immigrated to New Zealand aboard the Glenlora, possibly with his older sister Elizabeth, arriving on 29 October 1880. 
  3. Richard S Kelly (c1864-?). Born in Ireland in c1864. Emigrated to Australia in October 1891 on board the Oroya.
  4. William Kelly (1865-prior to 1891). Born in Corrofin, Clare, Ireland on 5 January 1865. Possibly died before his mother emigrated to Australia in 1891.
  5. Sarah Jane Kelly (1867-1947). Born in Cloonbur, Galway, Ireland, on 29 March 1867. Emigrated to Australia in October 1891 on board the Oroya. Worked as a nurse. 
  6. Robert Taylor Kelly (1868-1900). Born in Cloonbur, Galway, Ireland, on 17 May 1868. Buried with his mother in Melbourne General Cemetery. 
  7. John Bell Kelly (1869-1901). Born 'John Frederick Kelly' in Cloonbur, Galway, Ireland on 28 December 1869. He possibly emigrated to Australia in October 1891 on board the Oroya. Killed in action in the South African conflict (Boer War 1899-1902) on 30 October 1891.
  8. George Arthur Kelly (1871-1932). Born in Cloonbur, Galway, Ireland, on 12 July 1871. Immigrated to Australia. Corporal South African Army and Sergeant 44th Battalion, AIF during World War I (1914-1918). 
  9. Charles Edward Kelly (1873-1957). Born at Cloonbur Number One, Oughterard, Galway, Ireland on 7 April 1873. Emigrated to Australia in October 1891 on board the Oroya. He fought in World War I (1914-1918).
  10. Alicia Mary Kelly (1874-1942).

Richard Kelly died in Ireland at around age forty-four in c1879 when Alicia was around age five. In October of 1891 the widowed Bridget and some of her adult children, including seventeen year old Alicia, emigrated to Australia aboard the Oroya. Two years prior, Alicia's older brother Thomas Henry Kelly, named his first born daughter after his much loved sister. She was born in Hamilton, New Zealand, on 11 February 1889 and went on to marry John O'Keeffe. Alicia Mary O'Keeffe died in Hamilton at the age of 80 on 25 August 1980.

On 30 October 1901 Alicia's older brother, Lieutenant John Bell Kelly, was killed  at the Battle of Bakenlaagte in Transvaal, South Africa, the last major battle of the South African War (Boer War) (1899-1902).

Alicia was thirty-six when she completed her nursing training at the (Royal) Melbourne Hospital in 1910. She nursed at the Eye and Ear Hospital which was established in 1863. The photograph of Alicia above was included on a page 'Melbourne Nurses - Eye and Ear Hospital' in 1910. She then went on to work at Dr Kent Hughes’ Private Hospital and was a member of the Royal Victorian Trained Nurses Association.

Alicia Mary Kelly (1874-1942)On 29 March 1915, at age forty, Alicia enlisted as a staff nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service. She gave her mother, who was living at Mount Dandenong, as next-of-kin.

On 10 April 1915 Alicia was attached to the No. 1 Australian General Hospital. Her unit embarked from Sydney on board the A55 Kyarra on 13 April 1915, arriving in Egypt on 27 May. They reached Egypt in time to receive the thousands of wounded pouring out of Turkey after the landing at Gallipoli.

Based in the Palace Hotel at Heliopolis during the months of July and August 1915, in their care was Arthur Rupert Chipper, a corporal in the 10th Light Horse Regiment, A Squadron (Regimental No. 199), from Western Australia. He lay seriously ill with pneumonia. The illness likely saved his life, preventing him from charging to his death during the Battle of the Nek with his brother Henry Thomas Chipper who was killed in action on 7 August 1915. Arthur returned to the war until in early March 1918 he was invalided back to Australia suffering from multiple neuritis (nerve inflammation).

From 28 August 1915 until the evacuation of Gallipoli Alicia made at least two trips aboard Euripides, transporting wounded men home to Australia. The photograph above was taken by Denver Wood Wansey, who served as a merchant seaman on the Euripides from 13 October 1914 to 31 May 1923. Alicia returned to Egypt and the 1st Australian General Hospital in December 1915.

In April 1916 Alicia was on her way to France on board the HS Salta with the 1st Australian General Hospital. They were stationed on the old site of the No. 12 British Stationary Hospital at the Rouen Racecourse in the north of France. Most wards at the racecourse were in tents. The nurses worked extremely hard, especially during the Battle of the Somme between 1 July and 18 November 1916In December 1916 Alicia joined the 29th Casualty Clearing Station at Rouen on the River Seine.

By February 1917 Alicia was suffering from a 'severe cold' as mentioned by her cousin Frank Walker (1883-1953). On 20 February 1917 Frank sent the following postcards from France of La basilique Notre-Dame de Brebières d'Albert (Somme) to his sister Mary Jane Walker in Australia:

La basilique Notre-Dame de Brebières d'Albert (Somme) postcard from Frank to Mary Walker (20 February 1917) (page 1 of 2)

The second page records: ... footway, have often viewed this scene of desolation. Hope you are all well, also Inglewood folk. Geo Kelly [George Arthur Kelly (1871-1932), brother of Alicia Mary Kelly] is here somewhere, so Loll [Alicia Mary Kelly] says in her last letter. She has just recovered a severe cold. Am A.I. myself although the weather is so cold. Love to all, Frank.

La basilique Notre-Dame de Brebières d'Albert (Somme) postcard from Frank to Mary Walker (20 February 1917) (page 2 of 2) 

On 3 April 1917 Alicia was promoted from staff nurse to sister.

Alicia was transferred to No. 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station (3ACCS) at Brandhoek, near Ypres on the Western Front in Belgium on 31 July 1917. Throughout August 3ACCS was treating soldiers from the front, which was only a few kilometres away.

During the week to 21 July 3ACCS was was shelled by the Germans for five days in a row. The final day of shelling was the worst. In the middle of the morning a shell had landed on an adjacent British casualty clearing station, killing a Canadian nurseAlicia refused to leave her patients when the nurses of 3ACCS were ordered to the safety of the dug-outs. She stayed in the wards and comforted patients, also handing out enamelled hand basins for their heads so they could feel some protection from the shelling. She was aware that the basins would not be shrapnel proof, but helmets were not available. A padre later discovered Sister Kelly sitting in one of the hospital tents holding a patient's hand. When he asked why she had not left with the rest she answered, ‘I couldn't leave my patients’. She stayed at her post until the bombardment ceased.

Just a few days after this event Alicia moved to the 3rd Australian General Hospital in the coastal town of Abbeville. Here most of her patients were suffering from the affects of being gassed.

In October 1917 Alicia travelled to England for two weeks well earned leave. Whilst there the Military Medal ‘for gallantry displayed on the occasion of hostile air raids on casualty clearing stations’ was presented to Alicia at Buckingham Palace by King George V on 16 October 1917. 

On 18 October 1917 The Bendigonian reported: MILITARY MEDALS AWARDED TO SIX NURSES: Two Australian Recipients Military medals have been awarded to six sisters for gallantry displayed on the occasion of hostile air raids on casualty clearing stations. The recipients include Sister Alicia Mary Kelly and Sister Rachael Pratt, two AustraliansAlicia was one of only seven ANS nurses to receive this honour during World War I.

Alicia rejoined the 3rd AGH on 15 November 1917.

On 30 November 1917 the Journal of the Royal Victorian Trained Nurses Association printed the following letter written by the Chaplain attached to Alicia's unit and describing her heroic actions [later reprinted in the Inglewood Advertiser on 15 January 1918]

3rd A.C.C.S., B.I. Forces 29th August 1917. Dear Mrs Kelly – I have often intended to write to you. I am chaplain of the unit which your daughter, Miss A. M. Kelly (But whom we all call Rachel.) has been a Sister. I think you ought to know what a wonderful influence for good she has been upon everyone – Officers, Orderlies, Patients. From the Colonel downwards, every man and woman adores her, though I need hardly say we do not tell her so. No one has ever shown greater devotion to duty, greater courage in the face of danger, greater usefulness in every way. She has been a mother to every soldier she comes across and every man is a better man for having met her. She has been recommended more than once for decoration (She may not know this.) and we shall never be contented till she receives recognition of her splendid devotion; but very few honours fall to the nurses, and then they always go first to the heads. We have just passed through a very trying time. We have been bombed continually. The noise of the guns, only a hundred yards from the camp, has been startling and deafening. One bomb fell close to the Sister’s quarters, killing an Officer and an Orderly and riddling the sisters tents in which they were sleeping, fortunately on the ground. Rachel suffered a great deal from sleeplessness and looked worn out, but the duty was so exacting, she had to go on, in fact she will never give in. Finally came the day when the Germans deliberately shelled the camp and no one who has not seen it can realise what it means to have huge armour – piercing shells fall in your midst with a burst of quarter of a mile all round. We got the sisters away to a trench at the back of the camp, but when all had gone we found Rachel alone in her ward, giving to each patient an enamel bowl to cover his head from flying pieces of shell, absolutely comforting to these poor frightened, helpless creatures in her calm and sweet motherly ways and we literally had to drag her to a place of safety. I cannot write at any great length, but a man could cry for the very pride at being associated with such a girl and with gratitude that God has endowed her with such graces and virtues. And the dear child didn’t know that she had been perfectly heroic. She was only troubled that she couldn’t obey the order to seek shelter, because her poor boys looked so frightened and all the orderlies had run out of the ward. She has now been sent to 3rd A.G.H. We shall miss her greatly, but she ought to have a chance from the exciting C.C.S work for a time. It seems a shame that a mother should not be able to see her daughter and the glorious life she is living. Glorious, I say, but she is the humblest, gentlest child that ever lived. And so I wanted you to know in this very brief way  how much the Army values and how much it owes your daughter. My own great joy is to hear that my son is doing his duty in the world and I wanted you to know that though you have made this great sacrifice of being parted from your daughter, there are thousands who are benefitting from your sacrifice and who thank god for this revelation of noble womanhood. With all good wishes that you may soon have  your daughter back safe and happy. I am G.C. Munschamp, C.P.

Alicia was awarded the Royal Red Cross, 2nd class (A.R.R.C.) in the New Year’s Honours on 1 January 1918The Royal Red Cross is a military decoration awarded for exceptional services in military nursing. She was also one of only three Australian nurses to receive the French Croix de Guerre (War Cross).

On 15 January 1918 Frank wrote another postcard to Mary - Dear Mary, Just a card to say I'm well and hope Jack & yourself are the same. The weather is awfully cold at present & can expect two more months of it yet. Have had nothing official about the D.M.C. as yet. Had a line from Loll [Alicia Mary Kelly] yesterday. She sends her love. She is a little better. Had letters from your also, yesterday, but no Xmas parcel yet. Love from Frank.

The Old Cross, Market Place, Grantham postcard. Frank to Mary Walker (15 January 1918) 

The Inglewood Advertiser reprinted another account of Alicia's bravery on 18 January 1918: 

Nurse Wins Military Medal. Miss E.A. Conyers, Matron-in-Chief of the Australian Army Nursing Service, who is home on furlough, gives the following interesting account of how the Military Medal was won by Sister Alicia Kelly. Sister Kelly is a cousin of the Misses Kelly and Mrs Body, of Inglewood: “Some weeks ago news reached Australia that the Military Medal had been awarded to Sister Alicia (Rachel) Kelly. Miss Conyers has an interesting story to tell of this heroic sister and how she won the decoration. “Sister Kelly was off duty at one of the casualty stations, which was in danger of being demolished by the enemy,” explained Miss Conyers. “All the staff had been ordered to evacuate. A padre on his round discovered Sister Kelly on duty in a hospital tent with several patients. He remonstrated with her for remaining behind. “I could not leave my patients,” she answered. “Her quiet courage and clever resourcefulness enabled these nerve-shattered men to come through the ordeal of the bombardment with a cheery confidence. She knew that to feel secure these patients must have some kind of cover for their heads. Metal helmets were not available, so she used enamelled head-basins. She was aware that the basins would not be shrapnel proof, but she also realised that a protective covering of some kind would have an influence in strengthening the morale of the men. She remained at her post until the bombardment ceased.”

On 22 March 1918 Alicia was aboard a transport ship bound for England where she continued nursing at Southall Hospital near London. On 22 April 1918 Frank wrote again: The guns are going some tonight. F. 22/4/18 Dear Mary. Just a card to say I’m well, etc. Things are rather lively about these parts. Hope Jack and self are well. Had a letter from Loll. [Alicia Mary Kelly] from Southall Hosp. Near London. She expects to leave for Australia any day now. Love to Jack and self. Frank.

Postcard from Frank Walker to Mary Walker: Le Chateau Fouilloy (Somme) France (22 April 1918) (back)

Alicia left England for Australia aboard the HS Ruahine on 12 May 1918. She was sister-in-charge on the voyage home and on the ships arrival at Fremantle on 5 July 1918 the men she had cared for presented her with a silver cup which they had made during the voyage.

Alicia Mary Kelly (1874-1942) WWl nurse Alicia  Kelly's medals and nurses cape which have recently been rediscovered and put on display at the Army Museum in Fremantle. Pic Mogens JohansenThe West AustralianOne month later, Alicia married her former patient, Arthur Rupert Chipper in Perth on 7 August 1918. She was forty-three years old. As well as being in the 10th Light Horse Regiment, A Squadron (Regimental No. 199), Arthur was a farmer from Bullaring, near Corrigin. His records show he had been at the 1st Australian General Hospital in July 1915.

After many years at Bullaring the couple moved to a farm at Narrogin before retiring for health reasons. Alicia's war experiences would affect her health for the rest of her life. They had no children.

In 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, Alicia returned to nursing and was appointed matron of the Old Women's Home in Woodbridge, Guildford.

Alicia was aged sixty-seven when she died of pneumonia on 16 April 1942 at Midland in Perth, Australia.  On 28 April 1942 The West Australian reported: Heroine of Great War: Death of Mrs. A. Chipper The late Mrs. Arthur Chipper, the wife of Mr. Arthur Chipper of Bullaring, whose death took place recently, was a well known Sister in the Great War. As Sister Kelly she was decorated by King George V at Buckingham Palace with the Royal Red Cross and she also gained the Croix de Guerre and the Military Medal, which is an unusual decoration for a nurse.

Alicia's ashes were buried in the Rose Memorial in Karrakatta Cemetery, Western Australia (Site 29, Position 23) (Metropolitan Cemeteries Online). Her war medals and red nursing cape were donated to the Army Museum in Fremantle by the Returned Sisters sub-branch of the Returned and Services League.

Alicia Mary Kelly (war medals, photograph and nursing cape)

One month after Alicia's death, Arthur enlisted for service in World War II, serving with the 10th Battalion.

Alicia Mary Kelly (Sister Chipper Ward)On 16 July 1944 a ward at Corrigin District Hospital was dedicated to Alicia's memory by members of the Bullaring Country Womens Association. The dedication was made by the Corrigin and Yealering Volunteer Defence Force (VDC) platoons and a plaque was unveiled.

Arthur married Marjorie Ellen Mooney (nee Thomas), a widowed neighbour at Bullaring on 17 July 1948. Arthur was in his sixties and Marjorie was aged forty-nine. Arthur died, aged seventy, on 21 October 1956 and was buried in Narrogin Cemetery in Western Australia. Marjorie died on 24 April 1975.

On 8 March 2015 Alicia's story was told as part of the documentary Australia The Story Of Us Season 1 Episode 4 - New Nation At War [22.50 to 30.58. Note: Alicia would have talked with an Irish accent, she used enamel wash basins to cover the soldiers heads, the ward was most likely in a tent and there is no record of her being knocked over in an explosion - although this may well have accounted the poor health reported by her family for the rest of her life]. 



  • Australian Nurses' Journal (15 May 1915).
  • FamilySearch [name misrecorded as Alice Mary Kelly on birth entry] "Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881," index, Alice Mary Kelly, 16 Sep 1874; citing Cloonbur Number One, Oughterard, Galway, Ireland, reference 436; FHL microfilm 255,918.
  • Herald (Melbourne) ( 23 Oct 1917 & 29 July 1919).
  • Inglewood Advertiser (15 January 1918).
  • Inglewood Advertiser (18 January 1918).
  • London Gazette (17 October 1917 & 1 January 1918).
  • Margaret Bell (granddaughter of Arthur Rupert Chipper's second wife Marjorie Ellen Mooney nee Thomas).
  • MELBOURNE. (1918, August 7). St Arnaud Mercury (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4.
  • Metropolitan Cemeteries Online.
  • The Bendigonian (18 October 1917).
  • The Kelly and Crawford Families: Pioneers of the Waikato Districts, New Zealand by Debbie McCauley [unpublished manuscript].
  • The West Australian (28 April 1942).
  • Trevor Kelly (great grandson of Alicia's father Richard's brother Robert Kelly 1826-1902 who emigrated to Australia).


Further Information:

  • A. G. Butler (ed), The Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War of 1914-1918, vol 3 (Canb, 1943).
  • Alicia Mary Chipper (nee Kelly) profile by her family on Geni
  • Alicia Mary Kelly (1983) by Suzanne Welborn (Australian Dictionary of Biography).
  • Australia, The Story Of Us, Season 1, Episode 4 - New Nation At War (8 March 2015) [22.50 to 30.58].
  • Australian War Memorial: Wartime issue 50 - feature article: Nurses under fire.
  • National Archives of Australia. Article by Heather (Frev) Ford (2008).
  • Records (Australian War Memorial).
  • The Price of Peace: Corrigin War Memories (2001) edited by Valma Downing.
  • The West Australian: Bravery of a ministering angel (9 September 2014).


How to cite this page: McCauley, Debbie (2013). Alicia Mary Kelly (1874-1942). Retrieved from (Tauranga Memories, last updated: *insert date*). In-text citation: (McCauley, 2013)

This article was archived at Perma CC on august 10, 2016 (

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Alicia Mary Chipper (nee Kelly) (1874-1942)

Note:Rank: Staff Nurse
First Names:Alicia Mary
Last Name:Kelly
Date of Birth:16 September 1874
Place of Birth:Cloonbur No. 1, Oughterard, Galway
Country of birth:Ireland
Date of death:16 April 1942
Place of death:Bullaring, Australia
Place of burial:Rose Memorial in Karrakatta Cemetery, Western Australia
Date of Arrival:October 1891
Name of the ship:Oroya
Port of arrival:Australia
Sailed from:Ireland
Spouses name:Arthur Rupert Chipper
Spouses date of birth:24 March 1886
Spouses place of birth:Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Spouses date of death:21 October 1956
Spouses place of death:Williams, Western Australia, Australia
Spouses place of burial:Narrogin Cemetery
Date of marriage:7 August 1918
Place of marriage:Perth, Australia
Fathers name:Richard Kelly
Fathers date of birth:1835
Fathers place of birth:Wicklow, Ireland
Fathers date of death:c1879
Fathers place of death:Wicklow, Ireland
Mothers name:Bridget Jane Bell
Mothers date of birth:1839
Mothers place of birth:Wicklow, Ireland
Mothers date of death:4 August 1923
Mothers place of death:East Melbourne, Australia
Name of sibilings:John Bell Kelly, Sarah Jane Kelly, Charles Edward Kelly, George Arthur Kelly, Elizabeth Annie Mann, Thomas Henry Kelly, William Kelly, Richard S Kelly, and Robert Taylor Kelly
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)