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Communities, Sport and Recreation

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Nellie Jane (Nell) Espie AM

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Nell Espie

Awarded for service to Health, service to Veterans

Born: 1924 Died: 15 August 2016

Entered on roll: 2006


Colonel Nell Espie, AM, RRC, FRCNA, was born in Oatlands and trained as a nurse through the 1940s. After a number of years nursing, Nell was able to fulfil her ambition to be an Army nurse when the Korean War broke out.

She was commissioned as a Lieutenant with the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC) and posted to Ingleburn, NSW, in 1951. She went on to be a Ward Sister and Charge Sister in Japan, Korea, Duntroon, Malaya, Queensland and Victoria. In 1969 Nell became Matron of the Australian Field Hospital, Vung Tau in South Vietnam. She describes this position as the most rewarding experience of her career.

In the course of a distinguished career Nell was promoted through the ranks to Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel Director of Nursing Services – Army, Queens Honorary Nursing Sister, and in 1980, Honorary Colonel and Representative Honorary Colonel, RAANC. By the time she was discharged from the Army in 1981, after 30 years’ service, she was Matron in Chief of the RAANC and Director of Army Nursing.

After her retirement, Nell continued to take a very active role in the RAANC Association. She established a state branch in Tasmania, serving as National President from 1990 to 1994 and became a Life Member in 1997.

Nell has been a driving force behind many committees such as the Florence Nightingale Trust, of which she is still an active member. She has worked tirelessly to assist many veterans, war widows and dependants in obtaining their entitlements through the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Nell has received many awards both during her military career and since her retirement in 1981. Her Australian honours include a National Medal (1977), Royal Red Cross (1978), Member of the Order of Australia (1992), and the Centenary Medal in 2001.

Her long-time involvement with the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL), Oatlands Sub-Branch (over 50 years), has seen her serve as their Treasurer (1983-87) and President (1988-2004). She was made a Life Member of the RSL in 1995 and received a Meritorious Service Medal in 2004.

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