Local author, Sandy Venn-Brown is set to launch her new book Red Cross Rose – An Aussie Civilian in France 1916-1919 which tells the true story of her great Aunt’s exploits during the First World War.
Sandy said the book is not so much a history book about the war but about Rose Venn-Brown’s experiences – the people she met, the work she undertook with the British and Australian Red Cross and the YMCA, and her reflections on a horrendous time in modern history.
Rose was a civilian and, as Sandy said, a bit naïve when it came to enlisting as a volunteer.
“She really had no idea what she was getting herself into,” Sandy said.
“It took her nearly a year to get to England through various means. And when she did finally arrive in 1915 she was not welcomed by the authorities because she was a bookkeeper with no medical training or experience.
“The YMCA finally agreed she might be of some use as an administrator in France and so Rose ended up managing one of the largest bases in Europe at Le Havre. She went on to organise theatre parties, sports and singing groups, as well as significant Christmas and Anzac Day commemorations.
“As the war progressed, she took to visiting the injured and dying men on the hospital trains which transferred men from the Frontline to the docks and on to England. She gave these men comfort by holding their hands and reading to them.
“In my research I discovered that Rose stayed in France after the war. She took photographs of the cemeteries at Abbeville and sent letters home to the families who could not visit their sons’ grave. She worked for the Australian Graves Detachment to keep morale for the grave diggers. She donated photographs to the fledgling Australian War Memorial, wrote articles for newspapers in the 1920s and ‘30s and helped in the healing of a nation after a shocking war.”
Sandy said the book brought her a new realisation about the sacrifice and effort of the many thousands of people who volunteered to support the troops during the war.
“It was a labour of love writing this book but I’m glad I did it because Rose’s story and the story of the people she worked with needed to be told,” Sandy said.
The launch of Red Cross Rose will be at the Stanthorpe Art Gallery on Friday 19 November at 6.00pm. RSVPs to email@example.com