Bessie Christina Ellen Taylor

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Bessie Christina Ellen Taylor
Taylor Bessie CE 2.jpg
Taylor Singapore.jpg
Nursing staff of 2/13th Australian General Hospital Singapore Sister Muldoon (Taylor) is the 5th from the left, back row.
Personal Information
Date of Birth 18 Dec 1912
Place of Birth East Coolgardie, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 28 years, 7 months
Description 5'5½" (1.66m) tall ; ; fair complexion ; brown eyes ; brown hair
Occupation Nurse
Religion Roman Catholic
Address 3rd road, Armadale, Western Australia
Next of Kin Foster Mother , Mrs Agnes Taylor
Military Information
Reg Number VX61226
Date of Enlistment 6 Aug 1941
Rank Sister (Lieutenant)
Unit/Formation 2/13th Australian General Hospital
Military Movement
1st Departure from Australia
Journey Dates 2 Sep 1941 ‒ 15 Sep 1941
Transport Details AHS2 Wanganella
Return to Australia
Journey Dates 12 Feb 1942 ‒ 23 Feb 1942
Transport Details SS Empire Star
Post War Details
Fate Returned to Australia
Medals 1939-45 Star
Pacific Star
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45

Pre War

Maiden surname was Taylor, records filed under Muldoon. Bessie's father died in a mining accident when she was 18 months old, an due to her mother's ill health she was cared for by an aunt for a time until the family moved to Bordertown in South Australia. However, her mother again became ill 12 months later and Bessie moved to live with an aunt in Victoria and was never to see her mother again. Another aunt, living at Armadale in Western Australia then cared for her while she attended St Brigid's College in Perth as a boarder.

Following school she trained as a nurse at St John of God Hospital in Subiaco (?), working in the infectious disease section where she caught diphtheria. On completion of her training in 1933 she moved to Port Fairy here she practiced until she undertook Obstetrics training at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne. Training completed, she moved to Warrnambool.

War Service

Prior to enlisting in the 2nd AIF she was a reservist (V9259) posted to 108th Australian General Hospital from 23 Jul 1940 until 6 Aug 1941. From 8 Aug 1940 until 30 Nov 1941 she was a Staff Nurse, but on 1 Dec 1941 she was promoted to Sister. On joining the AIF she was appointed Lieutenant. From 12 - 17 Aug 1941 she was granted pre-embarkation leave.

On 1 Sep 1941 she was transferred to the 2/13th Australian General Hospital at Caulfield racecourse, Melbourne, and the next day boarded AHS2 Wanganella for Singapore, arriving there via Fremantle on 15 Sep 1941. In Singapore she had short periods detached to other units - i.e. 1-21 Oct 1941 to 2/10th Australian General Hospital at Malacca, and 14 - 23 Nov 1941 to the 2/4th Australian Casualty Clearing Station. On her return from the 2/4th Casualty Clearing Station, her unit had moved to the Malay mainland at Tampoi. In December as a result of the rapid Japanese advance the hospital had more than 900 patients, and was effectively operating as a Casualty Clearing Station. On 23 Jan 1942 the hospital was forced to move back to Singapore.

In Singapore the hospital was subjected to Japanese bombing, with a complete black out at night, and with mounting casualties, many were treated on the lawns outside the buildings. With the situation looking hopeless, Bessie was one of the nurses evacuated, with half of them boarding the SS Empire Star on 11 Feb 1942, and they left Singapore in the early hours of 12 Feb 1942. Bombed later that day, with 3 bombs hitting the ship, killing 14 and injuring 17. Another 47 aircraft attacked the ship, which was able to survive and reach Batavia on 14 Feb 1942. Following emergency repairs she sailed on 16 Feb 1942 for Fremantle which was reached on 23 Feb 1942. The rest of the Australian nurses boarded the ill fated SS Vyner Brooke

There are no entries in Bessie's record after her departure from Singapore on 12 Feb 1942 until 25 Jan 1943, although the next entry would suggest that she had been employed at 115th Australian General Hospital at Heidelberg. On 26 Jan 1943 she was reallocated to the 106th Australian General Hospital at Bonegilla before being transferred to HQs Australian Army Nursing Service on 30 Mar 1943 seemingly to work at Queen Victoria Hospital. On 6 Jun 1943 she returned to the 106th Australian General Hospital at Bonegilla.

On 27 Oct 1943 she married Henry Hargraves Muldoon a Sergeant in the Australian Army Postal Corps at Bonegilla. She requested a compassionate discharge and it was granted on 22 Dec 1943 with her name being placed on the Retired List. Three children followed, Brian, John and Marie, before the family settled in Tocumwal in 1949. Bessie resumed nursing from from 1955 until 1960 when she left to work as a Doctor's receptionist. She returned to the hospital, retiring as Matron at age 53. In her retirement she was active in local Tocumwal groups.

Post War

Electoral Roll entries: 1949 at Redcliffe road, Kallangur, Qld; 1954 - 1958 at 'Chetwoode', Tocumwal, NSW; 1963 at Denison street, Tocumwal; 1972 - 1977 at 36 Bruton street, Tocumwal.


Non military information comes primarily from an undated article in a local Tocumwal newspaper by Liz McLaurin.

Bessie is buried in plot 2681 of the Tocumwal cemetery with her husband.

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