WW1 Ethel Marion Hirst (Gould)

Ethel Marion Hirst [1]

Ethel Marion Hirst was born on 2nd February 1895. She was the daughter of Marion Violet Hirst and Frank Martin Hirst of Remuera Road, Remuera, Auckland.

Ethel’s brother Ben Hirst (Service Number /1793) also served in the First World War. She attended Diocesan School for Girls in Epsom. [1]

During the first world war, Ethel served with the New Zealand War Contingent Association, in Southampton Row, London which was a rehabilitation centre for service men. [2] She also worked in the Army Canteen, Hornchurch, about 20 miles from London. It was a hospital and convalescent depot, conveniently situated near to New Zealand Expeditionary Forces Head Quarters in London. The Cookhouses and kitchens were run by women specially engaged for the work as well as women from the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), known as VADs, dressed in their uniforms of blue dresses and white pinafores. VAD was a voluntary unit of civilians providing voluntary positions including nursing, transport duties, and the organisation of rest stations and working parties. [3]

Ethel worked at Brockenhurst Hospital, England, the No 1 New Zealand General Hospital, where New Zealand medical staff used beneficial mosses to heal wounds and help heal 20,000 soldiers back to health. They improved and developed plastic surgery, specially designed thigh splints, organised blood banks and improved dental treatment there. Ethel was involved with the social side of rehabilitation as a member of the Kia Ora Club at Brockenhurst. Ethel also worked at Walton-on-Thames Hospital, England, the No 2 New Zealand General Hospital. [4]

Flight-Sergeant W.H Gould [2]

In 1918, on her return to New Zealand, Ethel met her husband on the ship ‘Remuera’ and married Dr Herbert Leslie Gould (Service Number 3/2858) (1892 – 1953) the following year. Her husband had served with the New Zealand Medical Corps. His address after the war was given as C/o Mrs Hirst, 1 Upland Rd, Remuera. They had two sons. Their second son William Herbert Gould, (Service Number NZ41897) (1922 – 1942) went to King’s School from 1928 – 1935, studied law at Auckland University College for one year, then joined the RNZAF and was killed on a bombing raid over Germany in 1942 aged 20 years old. [5] [6] [7]

In the 1946 New Year Honours, Ethel was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for social welfare services to members of the New Zealand Military Forces.

After the war Ethel was active in politics and civic duties including being appointed Justice of the Peace in 1950. She was also:

• President of the Women’s Section of the Returned Services Association (Auckland)

• President of the Ex-Servicewomen’s Association (Auckland)

• Member of the New Zealand Legislative Council 1950

• Member of the New Zealand Territorial Association (Auckland) 1939 – 1946

• President of the Auckland Women’s Guild of Service

• Vice-President of the Newmarket Old Folks Association

• President of Auckland Old People’s Welfare Council

• Member of Auckland Hospital Board, elected 1946 – 1964

• First woman Vice-President, North Island, National Party

• Chairman, Women’s Section, Remuera, National Party

• Life Member Auckland Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases Association Inc.

• Did not attest as a Servicewomen, not eligible for Service Medals

Ethel died on 9th March 1992 aged 97 in Auckland and is buried in Purewa Cemetery and Crematorium, Meadowbank, Auckland, New Zealand, Block H Row 13 Plot 017. Her son William is commemorated on the Memorial Cross at St Aidan’s Church, Remuera.