Agnes May (May) Semple was born in 1879 in Kilmore to Dr William Henry Semple and Anne Devon. May trained at St Vincents Hospital in Melbourne. She enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service in May 1915 and served initially at the Military Hospital in Geelong until August 1916, then at No. 5 Australian General Hospital, St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
In January 1917 May embarked on the Omrah in Melbourne arriving in Plymouth, England on 27 March. She undertook nursing duties at Weymouth on the south coast and at Southall, London, before returning to Australia on the Llanstephen Castle in February 1918. May nursed the injured on board and arrived in Melbourne on 16 April 1918.
Nine months later Nurse Semple sailed from Sydney on the Wiltshire arriving in Suez on 11 December 1918. She nursed at the 31st and 27th General Hospitals in Abbassia, Egypt. May returned home on the troopship Ceramic in February 1919 and during the voyage performed nursing duties, including cases of influenza which caused the ship to be quarantined for several days off Geelong and Sydney.
Nurse Semple was discharged from the Australian Army Nursing Service on 9 May 1919, and was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. She carried on her nursing career and retained an interest in the welfare of 1914-1918 veterans.
May was admitted to Kew Hospital on 13 September 1954 and died on 24 September aged 74 years. Her burial service was held at Christ Church, Kilmore, and at the graveside was attended by many old friends and former service members of both World Wars and included the RSL Service. Her name is recorded on the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll and the Anglican Church Honour Roll.
Reproduced in the North Central Review, 9 December 2014, p6