Muriel enlisted on 21st November 1914 in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) for overseas duty during the First World War. She was described on enlistment as 178cm (5'10") tall, 57kgs (126lbs), fair complexion, gray eyes and brown hair. She was allocated to the 2nd Australian General Hospital, with the 'rank' of Sister, with whom she embarked from Sydney within days on HMAT Kyarra A55. She was discharged on 28th June 1916.
As Muriel kept a diary from the beginning of her service, she has become a key link in knowing just what life was like throughout that horrific war. Aboard the Gascon, anchored off ANZAC Cove at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, Muriel noted: "The wounded came down to the shore in an endless stream. Accommodation on the hospital ship Gascon soon gave out. After that occurred there seemed to be no one in charge directing wounded men to any one ship in particular. It was utter chaos on the beach. Soldiers, stores mules and wounded men on stretchers struggled to find vacant space."
Although the nurses were warned that fraternising with the officers was forbidden, she fell in love with the tall and handsome British Royal Navy Lieutenant, Ray Sargeant. The romance was omitted from her diary and was kept a secret on ship as it would have resulted in trouble for both of them. Muriel resigned from the AANS on 27th June 1916 and married Ray the next day in St Mary & St Joseph Catholic Church, Poplar, East London. They visited Wollongong in October 1916 to introduce the Catholic Ray to her Protestant parents. Oh, there is never rest from war!
Muriel and Ray lived in Kenya for a time as Ray was a harbour master at Mombasa. Later, they returned to London, England where Muriel lived for remainder of her life. She returned to Australia on one occasion with her son so that he could see her mother and the rest of the family. Whilst in Australia on that occasion, Muriel petitioned Canberra for her war medals, which were ultimately forwarded to her.
She passed away, aged 77 years, on 6th June 1965 at Worthing, West Sussex, England and is buried in Durrington Cemetery, Durrington, West Sussex. She was survived by her son and daughter.
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