The People of Gibraltar
1914 - Louisa Hooke - Wedgewood Castle 

According to the State libray of New South Wales, an old surviving photograph album with snapshots of Gibraltar contains the following inscription:
"Dearest Mother, with best wishes for a happy New Year from Louise, Military Hospital, Gibralta,  1915"
Although not apparent at first sight the wording is decidedly odd - the person who wrote it was called Louisa not Louise, knew perfectly well how to spell Gibraltar correctly and - it would seem - never sent the thing to her mother - if a second inscription on the album shown below is anything to go by.

Louisa Augusta Hooke was born in Patricks Plains, New South Wales in 1873. She became a nurse when she was a young woman but had retired from nursing when she came to England on holiday in 1914. Perhaps the fact that World War I had started persuaded her to enroll in the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). 

This very blurred photograph is a group portrait of British medical and nursing staff. It includes members of the RAMC. It was taken at the Military Hospital in Baghurst, Nottingham. Apparently she is on the third row, seventeenth from the left!

Louisa Augusta Hooke

Louise served abroad as a Staff Nurse part of which included a lengthy stint in Gibraltar which coincided with the arrival of wounded Australian soldiers from the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. Being Australian herself she seems to have had a great rapport with her injured compatriots. The first Gallipoli patients arrived in May 1915.  By August there were so many patients that a Convalescent Depot was opened at Windmill Hill.

The Gibraltar Dockyard - walking wounded destined for London disembarking from the SS Caledonian ( 1915 - Trooper George Simpson Millar )

The Convalescent Depot at Windmill Hill

The Gibraltar Volunteer Corp was responsible for transporting wounded personnel from ship to hospital or depot

Louisa worked in the British Military Hospital which was then relatively new - it was completed in 1904. It was known at the time to its British staff as Wedgewood Castle. One explanation offered for this odd name is that its exterior had originally been painted in powder blue. 

Wedgewood Castle on the left

A professionally taken photograph of the 'new' Military Hospital - taken more or less from the south - included in one of Louise Hooke's albums. 

The QAIMNS itself had only been created under a Royal Warrant in 1902 as a replacement for other Army Nursing Services. It was considered a rather elite organisation and the War Office thought it would be a good idea if QAIMNS nurses could be found amongst the wives of officers.  

While she was stationed in Gibraltar - and later Malta - Louisa Hooke proved herself a keen amateur photographer and took numerous snap-shots of places and people - the later being mostly those of her patients. She seems to have had plenty of time off work as she and colleagues visited nearby Spanish towns such as Algeciras and La Línea as well as others further afield - Tarifa, Ronda, and Granada - all of which were faithfully recorded by her camera. 
This British War Medal was awarded to all members of the imperial military forces who had completed 28 days mobilised service during the First World War. It was medal she was more than entitled to.

Louisa Augusta Hookes's Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Medal - 1914 - 1918

She returned to Australia in 1921 and never nursed again. The electoral roll of 1937 registered Louise with her maiden name and suggests that she remained unmarried. She died in Sydney the following year. She was 65.

Her first photograph album - supposedly either sent to her mother as a New Year present or donated to her colleagues - contains photos taken from 1914 onwards mostly in Gibraltar but several from Algeciras, Ronda, Tarifa and Granada.

Louisa's parents - Luisa Barbara and Augustus Hook

The snap-shots in the second album are unlabelled. It includes readily identifiable later photographs of Gibraltar - including several repeats from the first album - and others of different places in Spain. The last few pages are mostly made up of photos taken in Malta. The photos of both albums referring to Gibraltar can be viewed on the following links:

Album 1
Album 2