Elizabeth was born in 1878 in Kilmore, the second daughter of Terence Joseph Geoghegan and Eliza Dargan. After school she trained for three years in nursing at Melbourne Hospital obtaining her Melbourne Hospital Certificate and her Victorian Nursing Certificate. She then nursed as a sister in charge of medical and surgical wards at the Melbourne Hospital.
Elizabeth enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service at Melbourne on 28 November 1914 aged 36 years as a nurse with the 1st Australian General Hospital (AGH) and embarked in Melbourne on 5 December 1914, on the Kyarra taking the 1st AGH to Cairo, via Alexandria.
Elizabeth first served in Egypt at the Hellioplis Hotel, the base for the 1st AGH in Cario from early 1915 to April 1916. This hospital expanded rapidly during the Gallipoli campaign. Elizabeth was promoted to Sister on 1 December 1915, and was transferred to the 1st AGH at Rouen in France, via Marseilles in April 1916.
In France, the 1st AGH was based at the racecourse at Rouen from 1916 to late 1918, west of the Western Front. It is said that 90,000 casualties passed through its wards during this period. Elizabeth’s service record indicates that she was attached to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station from November 1916 until August 1917. Stations such as this were established almost “in the front line”. She was transferred for short periods to the 3rd AGH and 5th AGH and also spent leave in the UK, Paris and Trouville. It is likely Elizabeth held a senior position with the 1st AGH from August 1917.
Elizabeth was mentioned in dispatches on 7 November 1917 as confirmed in the Commonwealth Gazette of 18 April 1918. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) on 25 February 1918, as reported in the Commonwealth Gazette of 7 November 1918. She transferred to London for duty in late December 1918.
Elizabeth returned to Melbourne in late July 1919 on the Friedrichsruh as Sister in Charge. Her appointment was terminated on 7 December 1919. She was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and the 1914/15 Star.
In 1937 Elizabeth was one of 2,000 Australians who were awarded the Coronation Medal. At the time she was Matron of a Sanatorium in Mont Park. After World War Two she lived at Malvern and later moved to Perth where she died in 1970 aged 91 years.
Reproduced in the North Central Review, 7 April 2015, p13