Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The London Gazette

In the last post we looked at the life of Kathleen Kinsella, who did not survive the bombing of the Vyner Brooke on February 14, 1942. Whilst I was researching Kathleen I came across the fact that her sister, Nancie, had received an M.B.E (Member of the British Empire) so I began some research into this and came across a new resource that may be of interest to you. It is the London Gazette where, since 1665, all official British government notices are published.

Before I tell you about the London Gazette I will tell you about Nancie Kinsella. Nancie, Kathleen and their three brothers were the children of Michael James Kinsella (1858-1919) and Susan (nee Lockens 1857-1930) of Cora Lynn. Michael Kinsella had selected 60 acres of land on the north side of the Main Drain at Cora Lynn in 1900. They both started school at Koo-Wee-Rup North and then transferred to Cora Lynn State School and they both became nurses. Nancie had left Australia before the War and when the War broke out she enlisted in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. This service was started in 1902 by Queen Alexandra and provided nurses for military hospitals.

Nancie nursed in the Middle East; was in Normandy where she looked after D-Day casualties and also nursed the 1,700 survivors of the Belsen Concentration camp. At Belsen, the nurses had to de-louse and clean the captives and the wards as well as provide treatment for all manner of diseases such as dysentery, tuberculosis, typhoid, typhus, diphtheria, heart and kidney problems as well as starvation. Nancie was awarded a M.B.E in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in North West Europe – this was listed in the London Gazette, issue 37004, of March 29, 1945.

She was also mentioned in Despatches for the same service and was awarded the Associate Royal Red Cross medal, which is awarded to nurses for acts of bravery or exceptional devotion to duty. This award was in the January supplement to the London Gazette, issue 38797, of December 30, 1949.

It appears that she remained in the Service and completed her time in the Reserve of Officers in 1956 as we can see below from the London Gazette, issue 40758, of April 17, 1956. The only other information I have on Nancie is that there is a ‘Nancie Kinsella Patient Library’ at the Peter McCallum Hospital, so most likely she worked there at some time in her career.

Because Australia had the Imperial Honours System before 1975 all Australian recipients are listed in the London Gazette, so if your ancestor or relative received a C.B.E (Commander of the British Empire) or an O.B.E (Officer of the British Empire) or, like Nancie Kinsella, a M.B.E (Member of the British Empire) or even a higher honour such as a Knighthood then they will be listed in the London Gazette.

The notice above was in the London Gazette, issue 45678, of June 3, 1972. Cr Thwaites was awarded an O.B.E for his services to Local Government. Cr Thwaites was a Cranbourne Shire Councillor from 1958 to the 1980s.

Sir Sidney Sewell received his Knighthood in 1945 and it was listed in the London Gazette, issue 37119, of June 8, the same year. Sidney Sewell was a pioneer in the treatment of tuberculosis, founded the Association of Physicians of Australasia in 1930, lived at Roads End, Beaumont Road in Berwick and built the Tudor shops in High Street. The notice is also interesting for the use of the term 'Dominions' as it has been many years since Australian was referred to in that way.

Other things you would find listed in the London Gazette include bankruptcies, naturalisations, patents, military honours, promotions and appointments and public service appointments. And, best of all, the entire 340 plus years of the Gazette are now digitised, searchable and free to print off. I would advise doing an Advanced search where you have the option of searching a phrase or limiting by dates. It is an amazing resource if your ancestors are from the United Kingdom or like Nancie Kinsella involved with a British Military unit.

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