The Adelaide Show Podcast putting South Australian passion on centre stage

371 – Not For Glory – Australian Women At War With Susan Neuhaus

371 - Not For Glory - Australian Women At War With Susan Neuhaus

A pre-Anzac Day reflection on a century of service by medical woman to the Australian Army and its allies

STOP PRESS – PRIZES TO WIN: Susan Neuhaus has given us five codes to giveaway for streaming this audiobook on Spotify. If you would like one, simply share the link to this episode on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter (and tag The Adelaide Show so we know you’ve done it) before Anzac Day 2023. We’ll be watching and will reply to the first five people who do this. Of course, this is a truly important episode, so please consider sharing it anyway. 

From the trenches of the Western Front to the ricefields and jungles of South-east Asia, Australian women have served as doctors and medical specialists from World War I until the present day. Not For Glory is a book that tells their stories of adventure, courage, sacrifice and determination as they fought to serve their country… and won. Co-author, Susan Neuhaus joins us to share some of those stories ahead of Anzac Day.

And in the Musical Pilgrimage, we hear a small snippet from South Australia’s 2022 Dawn Service, lest we forget.

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Running Sheet: Not For Glory – Australian Women At War With Susan Neuhaus

00:00:00 Intro


00:00:00 SA Drink Of The Week

No SA drink segment this week.

00:03:22 Susan Neuhaus

As we approach Anzac Day 2023, I’m reminded of a review I wrote about the play, Hallowed Ground in 2019. In the play we get to meet a number of women who have served Australia, our allies, and humanity in various locations and situations in response to a deep calling to “do their part”, do their service.

The production by The Shift Theatre, was adapted from the book, Not For Glory, by South Australian army veteran and surgeon, Colonel Susan Neuhaus CSC (Retd) and Dr Sharon Mascall-Dare.

I wrote back then that in light of this production and this book, I will certainly be recalling these women’s stories as part of my emotional and historical journey every Anzac Day.

And to prepare myself for this Anzac Day, and to share some extra insights with you, I have Susan Neuhaus with me now.

This simplest link for finding Not For Glory is here: Australian Women At War bookshelf page.

Susan, you spent 20 year5s in the military in both the Australian Regular Army and the Army Reserve as a clinician and a commander. You served in Cambodia, Bougainville and Afghanistan, and in 2009, you were awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross, followed in 2020 by being admitted as a Member of the Order of Australia for services to medicine.

What compelled you to serve Australia in what is referred to as conflict medicine?

How does medical work in the field differ from back in normal practice?

In small business mentoring, I have found that often I end up playing the role of confidant and counsellor. Surely that must happen in the field to a much greater degree. Can you share an example?

Are there any disciplines or procedures you learn in the military that make civilian life better (or worse)?

I want to reflect on your awards because it connects directly to the title of your book, Not For Glory. When you and so many other service people join the military to “answer a call”, how does one hold the notion of medals and awards, when that was not a part of one’s motivation?

What is so important about these women’s stories, that has propelled you to go on the gruelling pathway of crafting a book?

What impact would you like this book to have on readers and on the military itself?

Can we look at some stories?

Through what lens do you reflect on the current situation in Ukraine?

00:48:27 Musical Pilgrimage

The most fitting music for this episode has been drawn from the 2022 Dawn Service at the South Australian War Memorial.

Here’s this week’s preview video

There was no preview video for this episode.

SFX: Throughout the podcast we use free SFX from for the harp, the visa stamp, the silent movie music, the stylus, the radio signal SFX, the wine pouring and cork pulling SFX, and the swooshes around Siri.

An AI generated transcript – there will be errors. Check quotes against the actual audio (if you would like to volunteer as an editor, let Steve know)

Steve Davis: [00:00:00] Hello, Steve Davis here and welcome to episode 371 of the Adelaide Show Podcast. This particular episode we are producing. In preparation for Anzac Day 2023, and as we approach Anzac Day this year, I’m reminded of a review that I wrote about a play hallowed ground in 2019. In the play, we get to meet a number of women who have served Australia.

Our allies and humanity itself in various locations and situations in response to a deep calling to do their part, to do their service in providing medical work or conflict medicine. The production was by the Shift Theatre and it was adapted from a book, not for Glory, by South Australian Army Veteran and surgeon, Colonel Susan Neuhaus and Dr Sharon Mascall-Dare. And I wrote back, right back then in 2019 that in light of that [00:01:00] production and the book, I’ll certainly be recalling these women’s stories as part of my own. Emotional and historical journey on every subsequent Anza day. And so to prepare myself for this one and also to share some insights with you in this episode, we will be having an extended chat with Susan Neuhaus particularly with the release now of not only the, the physical book, Not For Glory, but also the audio book version, if that’s more your cup of tea. So I hope you enjoy this episode and we have something a little bit special in the musical pilgrimage at the end.[00:02:00]

Caitlin Davis: In the spirit of reconciliation, the Adelaide Show Podcast acknowledges the traditional custodians of country throughout South Australia and their connections to land, sea, and community. Repair respects to their elders past and present, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

Helen Hopkins: At present, my mind is a confusion of [00:03:00] military etiquette and rules, unusual methods for arrangements for operating, et cetera, a fury and turmoil in my brain against this dreadful war causing this inexorable suffering. I’m not at all keen on military surgery, but I suppose I will get used. And do it better than at present, but I think it is horrible.

Steve Davis: They are some rather haunting words written by Vera from World War I, as featured in the book, Not For Glory by Susan Neuhaus and Dr. Sharon Mascall-Dare. As I alluded to at the beginning of this episode, Susan Neuhaus is our guest. Welcome to the Adelaide Show.

Susan Neuhaus: Thanks, Steve. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Steve Davis: There is so much to talk about here when we. Women, doctors and, and women in various medical roles in, in war. But I just wanna reflect on Vera’s words because that was not the classic text that you [00:04:00] would expect for a book of this focus. What, what is the importance of her work in, in the book that you’ve put together Not for Glory?

Susan Neuhaus: For me. Vera is an amazing character. She was only 20. At the outbreak of war, she was already a doctor and she decided like so many other Australian women doctors who were unable to serve with the Australian army, that she would find a way to go and serve. Anyway, so she went across to London and she served with the most remarkable hospital called the End Street Monetary Hospital, which was fully funded by the war office, paid for by the war office.

They had uniforms and rank, but was comprised entirely of. So it was set up by some very intrepid doctors, Anderson and Murray, and they treated about 29,000 military casualties during the time that it was opened, and very few people know about it, but this little 28 year old [00:05:00] went over and became a surgeon and had to deal with war injuries.

And she’s probably, she’s probably one of my favorites because I. The same age as her when I first deployed overseas. And having spent my life as a surgeon, I can see there are some real echoes and resonances in her just coming to terms with life, coming to terms with the realities of military surgery.

And I think that quote that you just played as, that’s got a real resonance for me,

Steve Davis: My intuition from what she’s written, everything in me would want to flee from that scenario. And there she was of her own volition, putting herself in harm’s way to carry out her medical work. I find it hard to comprehend that, but I’m guessing from your experience, you’ve met many people who have that makeup.

Susan Neuhaus: Look, it’s interesting, Steve, I, she has 19 volumes of diary notes, which are held in the archives of the [00:06:00] University of Melbourne. And what they really show is her journey from this very naive young surgeon to someone who becomes professionally and personally far more accomplished over the war years. And I think just reading I find it staggering as she’s had to deal with these things for the first time with amputations for the first time with injuries that really no one had seen on that scale. And she has the most extraordinary drawings there of, for example, a gunshot wound to a scapula, to a shoulder blade where she’s tried a number of techniques.

She’s tried various traction. She’s tried bits and pieces, and they’ve all failed. And my favorite drawing is a beautiful line drawing, which is actually in the book, which is described as being her sixth attempt at trying to get it right Oh, to, to fix this, this soldier’s shoulder in a position where it will be able to heal.[00:07:00]

And it’s, it’s that sort of need for innovation, that need for persistence, that dealing with stuff that you’ve just never seen before. I find it absolutely amazing.

Steve Davis: Necessity is the mother of invention. I suppose it’s exactly what you’re describing there. Susan, you spent 20 years, if I’m right in, in the military, in both the Australian regular Army and also the Army Reserve as a clinician and a commander you served in Cambodia, Boganville, and Afghanistan.

In 2009, you awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross, and then in 2020 admitted as a member of the order of Australia for services to medicine. What was your motivation? To move into this area of service with your particular skills and your background and your experience, because I imagine there’s, the story is different for many people, but what’s yours?

Susan Neuhaus: I’m not sure that it was a conscious [00:08:00] choice at that level, to be honest. It. I decided to join the Army when I was a young medical undergraduate, and it was very much a case for me that my journey has been shaped by the opportunities that came in front of me. I think I’ve been really privileged to have.

Chances to deploy, chances to go to places that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. And in each of those roles, you learn things that then can prepare you for the next thing. But have I actually done that through a conscious choice that this was what I would do or that that was a mapped out career path?

Absolutely not. But the corollary of that, I suppose, is getting to the end or almost to the end of that, and looking back and just realizing. How much of an opportunity and a privilege I’ve had to be able to do the things that I’ve done. And the reflection on that is also around who’s opened those doors of opportunity.[00:09:00]

How is it that I’ve been able to do that sometimes without even realizing quite hard, difficult, it has been for the people that have gone before. And I suppose it’s really that that started me on this journey, which is to. That so much groundwork has been done by so many absolutely amazing women over literally more than a century.

That has led to the opportunities that I’ve had. And you know, I’m sorry to say, I’ve often taken for granted. Mm-hmm.

Steve Davis: Your story, I mean, in benefiting, you know, standing on the shoulders of others. But then you’ve got Vera who had to fund her own episode to go over and work for the British. What is it about us blokes seriously, that were so pigheaded to us not allow women, to partake in this aspect of service. Surely we’re cutting off our noses despite our faces there from, from my [00:10:00] gender’s perspective.

Susan Neuhaus: Look, we obviously all live in a very different world today than existed in World War I or even existed prior to that. And today, of course, every role in the military is open to women, including including the combat roles.

But they were very different times and people did think differently. And it is interesting when you look back at the enormous number of contradictions that existed in the way that the world worked for men and for women. So it was perfectly acceptable for nurses to deploy to war, and yet it wasn’t acceptable for women doctors.

Women doctors had received rank and pay equivalent to the men funded by the war office, but they didn’t receive commissions. And as a result of not receiving commissions, they didn’t receive veterans entitlements as a result of not receiving commissions. They didn’t receive honors and awards in the same way that our men could be recognized.

And that’s one of the reasons why their [00:11:00] stories have been. Largely written out of the official narrative because so much of their status was ambiguous, both in the first World War, but also in the Second World War.

Steve Davis: I want to just reflect. On, you mentioned they were then precluded from awards, et cetera, and this is probably going to be the single most awkward question in our whole interview, but I hope you can shine a light in this field for us because I hear from you, I hear from Vera story and others, it’s not for glory.

But then we hear when awards are awarded, we see the medals. Those of us who are civilians, we see them on special days, like Anza Day. How do they sit psychologically? There must be a, an ill at ease aspect to it because that wasn’t the reason, but also, There must be some sense of satisfaction to have that work acknowledged.

Can you [00:12:00] just take us into the, that psychological position that such things must have?

Susan Neuhaus: That’s a challenging question, Steve. Thank you for that. Look, I think it’s true there. There is an ambiguity there. I mean, I, not a historical revisionist. So if I look back at these women I think we should all be immensely proud of what they’ve achieved and we should recognize that more.

Should we be go back and change the recognition system for them? No, I don’t think we should, but I do think we have to have an honest conversation about why they weren’t recognized so many of the women. Of the more than, more than a dozen Australian women doctors who went overseas. Many of them received awards from foreign countries, but not from Australia.

We’ve had women like women who’ve Phoebe Chapel from Adelaide, of course, who was awarded a military medal. People argued at the time, it should have been a military cross, but a military cross. [00:13:00] She wasn’t eligible for. Does that diminish the recognition of her gallantry? Does that diminish what she did?

No, but it has to stand alongside the fact that they were the times in which people lived. Mm-hmm. So I think from my perspective, there’s an onus on us to tell two stories. One is the story of the gallantry and the service, and the other is the story of the context in which that service happened and why it was that women potentially weren’t recognized to the same level as, as, as.

Steve Davis: So what does it mean to wear your medals?

Susan Neuhaus: So for me it’s complicated. I feel immeasurable pride. But I also feel an awkwardness because I don’t compare my service to theirs. If I think, for example, about the women who worked on the Eastern front in [00:14:00] Serbia, the Australian women who ran a tented hospital under canvas, under the most horrific conditions, there is nothing I have ever done in my service that could.

Be a patch on that. Even in Afghanistan, I worked in a beautiful air conditioned, ballistically protected operating theater that had everything you could possibly imagine. I could evacuate my patients to Germany within 72 hours. But for these women, the conditions under which they worked were absolutely horrific.

There’s an excellent quote within the book that describes Dr. Cooper’s experiences on the Eastern front up in do Ravini dressing station, which was open just a week before Christmas in 1916. That I think describes the conditions under which they worked extremely well. Let’s have a listen.

Helen Hopkins: Conditions were appalling by anyone’s standard.

They made their own mess house from petrol cans. The kitchen [00:15:00] was made by piling stones up in the fashion of the dry stone walls of Scotland, the roof being hammered out cartridge cases. The wards and staff quarters were tense. Temperatures were sub-zero. Wood was brought by mules from our mountain, some kilometers away.

A five hour trip in each direct. One sister recorded that often her hands were too cold to write and the tea froze in the cup if they were slow at drinking. The wounded were transported to the dressing station by mules. Usually two casualties were carried by each mule seated in makeshift seats on either.

It was a rough journey with no pain relief. Each step jolting a fracture or jarring a chest injury. The more seriously injured were brought down by stretcher. [00:16:00] Veni was a dangerous place located less than 10 kilometers from the frontline positions of the enemy, and within range of the guns. The only means of retreat was by foot, a walk of 20 kilometers down the mountain.

Lillian and the other women were in constant danger and overworked air raids were common as German bombers searched for Serbian infantry formations in the mountains. The dressing station comprised 40 beds under canvas tents and a makeshift operating theater in a shed. The patients slept on modified pallets made of straw and blankets stretched over iron frames to elevate them off the ground.

For sicker patients, the beds were elevated on empty shell cases to make tending casualties less backbreaking here, 5,000 feet up mount cash maclan [00:17:00] overlooking the mints of mansia and the snow clad mountains behind Dr. Cooper performed operations day after day in the harshest of conditions. Clearly happy.

Lillian saw this as the culmination of her life’s work. She was performing real surgery and making a real difference. Despite the strain of long hours, she performed multiple amputations, removed shell fragments, bullets, and other shrapnel from men’s bodies ravaged by war through life and limb saving surgery.

Patients were stabilized and then transported by ambulance to the main hospital at Otro. Countless lives were saved in this way. From mid-January to the beginning of March, a period of six weeks, the ambulances brought down 1,840 patients from the dressing station over the next seven weeks. A [00:18:00] further 523 casualties were admitted of whom 60 died from their wound.

During her eight month period at the 40 bed dressing station, only 16 of the 144 patients Dr. Cooper operated on died.

Steve Davis: Susan, I was really hoping that our interview today would set me up to deepen my experience and understanding of military service in in the context of Ansec Day that. Just takes us behind the scenes behind even the best Hollywood approaches to get realism to just the, the brutal reality of human conflict.

That is staggering.

Susan Neuhaus: It is, and I think it, it’s also very telling that. In their reflections, the women are thinking about their personal hardship, but they’re not actually thinking about their [00:19:00] personal danger because DO Ravini was a very dangerous place. It was located within 10 kilometers of the frontline positions and within range of the guns.

The only way that those women. Could get away was by a walk of some 20 kilometers down the mountain. They were subject to air raids. They were working day and night 5,000 feet up in the mountains, and every day they were doing battlefield surgery. It’s amazing. When Dr. Cooper looked back, she described that as actually being the highlight of her life.

Doing surgery every day, saving lives, saving limbs, and over a period of only about six weeks, they brought down some 1800 patients from that dressing station who were all battlefield casualties. And what I find absolutely astounding as a surgeon is that her death, [00:20:00] Almost really low. I mean, it was impressively better than perhaps anything I’ve seen, even in, you know, major current conflict.

It was quite staggering. And these women’s service as a. Entirely run by women Hospital, in fact, largely an Anzac hospital, interestingly enough, because quite a number of Australian New Zealand women were serving in that particular location, and they were recognized by the Serbs. They were each awarded medals by the Serbs, but their services not been recognized by Australia because it wasn’t within the confines of the Australian military system at the.

Steve Davis: At one level then how clarifying in the discipline and practice of medicine to be right on the cutting edge where every single thing counts all the time with no safety net it, there must be some vast differences [00:21:00] between practicing in a, in a lovely building in, in North Adelaide or in Melbourne or wherever it might be, versus under canvas.

Right in range of, of artillery that welds apart, just from a medical perspective, do you do, do you see, what, what sort of contrast do you see there? How do you describe the, the discipline of doing medicine in those different contexts?

Susan Neuhaus: I think it’s really fascinating if you go back through history War is unfortunately a time of particularly surgical innovation, but enormous medical innovation in just about every war.

Whether that’s the impetus for penicillin to become a reality, whether that’s the invention of Thomas splints, there are so many inventions and progressive. Ways of managing patients that have moved forward only because of the impetus of war. [00:22:00] So it’s a time when there is a requirement for an enormous amount of creativity, and that does come through in some of the women’s experience.

It’s not just that one on the Eastern front. If we look back toward World War ii, We had some amazing work that was done by Josephine Mcca in the field of malaria research. Malaria, of course, was absolutely paralyzing troops right around the Pacific particularly, and she did some extraordinary work in growing HILs mosquitoes and running the early trials that showed that at Abri could actually be used successfully to treat malaria.

And her work was so extraordinary that in the King’s Honors list, the end of war honors list, she was nominated three times and the citation reads, and bear with me cause I possibly don’t have it quite right, but basically the citation reads that no woman could have made a greater [00:23:00] contribution to the Allied War effort in the Pacific.

And yet Josephine Mcca did not receive. Honors. And if you go back to the original documentation, it struck out in the draft because women were not entitled to receive the same honors as men. So these are the, you know, these are the examples of women who have been incredibly creative, who’ve made a real effort, who’ve done extraordinary things.

And of course in the Second World War, women were taking on all sorts of roles. They were working in munitions factories, they were doing all sorts of things. Mm-hmm. One of the other stories. In the book is also around a very interesting young last called Jean Kahn, who was a scientist with the Australian Blood and Serum Unit in, she was pivotal in setting up the blood service in Western Australia, which at that stage you can imagine was on the other side of the country, was a very long way to be transporting blood.[00:24:00]

So it was important that they set up their own, their own unit there and the sorts of innovations that went. With setting up and establishing a blood transfusion service are quite frankly worthy of their own, their own book. They used, for example, a Laal cream separator to separate the red components of the blood from the plasma.

I mean, who would think of such a thing? It’s just extraordinary.

Steve Davis: Wow. I wonder what the Medicare item list would’ve been.

Susan Neuhaus: I’m not sure, but if you’d like to try it. The original Laar separator still sits in Perth. I’ve actually been and had a look at it, but I’m not sure it would perhaps stand up to today’s sophisticated blood transfusion requirements.


Steve Davis: Should we have a listen to another sample of audio from the book? What would you recommend we listen to next? Susan?

Susan Neuhaus: I think it’d be worth listening to Elsie Dalio’s description. The Somme, the, the, the words, the worst [00:25:00] week on the Somme during the great push. Elsie was there between May and October of 1916, working on gas Grand green anti serum, which was also another amazing innovation that came out of the First World War.

Helen Hopkins: The incessant, thunder and boom of the great guns had never been silent for days. This day at dawn, the thunder had swelled to an orgy of terrific sound that made the whole earth shiver. Then a few hours later had ceased and we could hear once more. The isolated reports of individual cannon trains were arriving from the Psalm in one long stream.

The drivers never ceased, journeying backwards and forwards all afternoon and all that night. And the three women and the man who drove our four ambulances carried over a hundred cases over the first 24 hours of that night, less week [00:26:00] during the first 20 days of the great push, there were always some of our cars at the clearing station day and night.

Their wounds were terrible. Many of these men were wounded dangerously in 2, 3, 4, and five places. That great enemy of the surgeon who would conserve life and limb gas gang green, was already at work in 90% of cases, hence the need for immediate operation, often immediate amputation. The surgeon did not stop to search for shrapnel in pieces of metal.

Their one aim was to open up and clean up the wound. Or to cut off the mortifying limb. Before the dreaded gang green had tracked its way into the vital parts of the body. The stench was very bad. Most of the poor fellows were too far gone to say much. During this time, [00:27:00] Elsie worked daily in the laboratory, but as one of the doctors, she was also expected to help in the operating theater where she gave Ether anesthetics.

Her recollections of those first few days during the push are recorded in the letter to the Sydney Telegraph. These have been simply awful days and nights. I hear the poor people in the operating theater cleaning up madly. A swab of every wound is taken immediately after admission and sent instantly to the laboratory.

I examine them on the. Did 180 in three days, and a bacteriological report was dispatched within about half an hour. All the gas gang cases were sorted out by this means, and the incipient cases was spotted at once and operated according to the severity of the infection as notified by me. [00:28:00] By that means we saved lots of limbs as they were spotted early and opened up in.

So many of the cases I insisted on immediate operation proved to have early gas formation at the bottom of a deep narrow shell wound that it would certainly be fatal to leave them. They would probably have lost a limb, if not life. So far we have had only five deaths and we did 112 bad cases of gas gang green without stopping.

As I did the bacteriological work in batches of 20, I was able to take a hand in the theater and plied between the lab and the operating table without ceasing day or night.

Steve Davis: It, it is boy, it’s just sobering, Susan. Mm. To hear that unrelenting. Grind, if you like, of injured person after injured [00:29:00] person and just having to get through.

I think that’s, there is a dominant theme that’s coming through what that focus is like in the theater of war and applying medicine.

Susan Neuhaus: It comes out actually, interestingly, very strongly in the writings of one of the physiotherapists in the Second World War who worked in Palestine and she. Her diaries are very brief, but they capture that.

It’s just the incessant nature of every day of listening to the guns, of doing your work, of seeing the men arrive, the constantly of the injuries, the ancy of knowing that people. We’re fighting out there for your freedom, but at the same time, you were an important part of that whole piece of keeping the men alive getting them home back to their [00:30:00] families.

I think it was that, but we often, we often underestimate the duration of time that many of these people were away from home. And we forget that women, some women. Some very severe and long-term consequences, and some even died as the consequence of their service. I think most of your listeners would know about the fate of the nurses following the fall of Singapore with the sinking of the Viner Brook, the nurses who drowned, and those who were massacred on Raji Beach alongside the nurses who became prisoners of.

And some of whom tragically staffed a death during their time as prisoners. So it’s important that we remember their service and their [00:31:00] sacrifice too, because it’s just as valid as anyone else’s.

Steve Davis: Yes. And the other thing which I try to apply some rules in my thinking to is World War ii. Particularly we know 1939 to 1945, we know when it ends there living in it.

And the same with the Great War and other wars. We have no idea when the. Would’ve been, they would be there in perpetuity until they had either lost their lives or victory had one and no one would. And that to me is also a backdrop that we don’t get the full tasting of because we know the fude within which they’re working.

That’s that’s one aspect of it. The other one is, yes, we’ve got the frenetic. Working through the, the injuries, the victims of of war. However, there would be [00:32:00] quiet moments there when the nurses, the doctors, would be listening to the, the confessions, the pain of the people there. Working with, I know just in my normal life as a small business consultant and marketer, sometimes you become confessor and counselor as people get share their burden.

That would’ve been a real thing for these women you are focusing on in your books as well, they’re also carrying the emotional story load of the men in particular that they’re treating, would they.

Susan Neuhaus: Absolutely. I think there’s two very good points there for those 24 survivors of the prisoner of war camps.

It must, it must, I mean, it’s impossible for us to imagine what that would’ve been like, even right down to towards the tail end of the [00:33:00] war, realizing that something was going to happen, but not knowing until liberation, that you’d actually been freed. I mean, their stories alone are just absolutely horrific.

But yeah, ab, that’s true there. There are moments of immense boredom. And boredom is of course a very dangerous thing because it allows you to think and to ruminate. So that can be constructive, but it can also be very devastating in its own way and leave its own scars. So sometimes, and interestingly, the diaries of a lot of these women reflect that, that they were happiest when they were busy, when they were not busy.

Life became a little more challenging in different ways.

Steve Davis: Interesting. Yeah, because I do remember hearing someone, right. You probably know more about it than I do. The, that war is often nine parts, boredom and one part action because you’re waiting your maneuvering, et cetera. I know we’ve got a little bit [00:34:00] more audio to listen.

From the book, and I know you did say at the beginning that in, in your deployments you had the benefits of our better technology and situations these days, but I, I am curious to know, are there things, disciplines, and checklists that you need to abide by when administering medicine in the field that spill over and actually make your life more organized and better?

Back in civilian.


Susan Neuhaus: I think the reality is that being in a conflict zone, whether that’s humanitarian operations, whether that’s conflict, does provide a different perspective on the world and on the magnitude of. The [00:35:00] world’s problems and on the magnitude of things that come in front of you. So I think what I would say to that is that there’s a clarity about what’s important, a clarity about what you can change and what you can’t change.

That I think has been beneficial for me in my practice, in understanding my own limitations, in understanding the pieces that I can change and the pieces that I can’t change. If I put that into the lens of a career as a cancer surgeon, I would say that I understand I can’t change what’s written in the starts.

Mm. But what I can change is the journey and what that feels like and potentially create an environment where that is as best as it can be [00:36:00] without taking away the pieces that can’t be changed.

Steve Davis: I think there’s something very, almost borrowing from stoicism to a degree of accepting those things we can’t change.

I think. Much of our angst in modern life is the regret and the the angst at things not being how we want them to be. There’s, wow, who would’ve thought that? Sometimes it’s exposure to the human animal at its most base, where we get to see the truth of how things are, that some things cannot be changed and therefore, We either go mad or we accept it and regroup around what we can change.

I think there’s something out of this that hopefully some time on Anzac Day can be spent reflecting on, which is something I’d never, an angle I’d never thought of. Susan.

Susan Neuhaus: It is interesting, isn’t it? People [00:37:00] often ask, how can you reconcile being a doctor and being in the military? Hmm. The reality is that wars have been with us since time eternal, and.

My job as a doctor is not to change that necessarily. Be nice if nice, if you could. Mm-hmm. But it is, it is to recognize that everyone who’s involved in that by choice, by not choice, by din of circumstance, by fate, by geography, they’re all human. And at the end of the day, we all want the same things.

If I could give you an example of. It would be in Afghanistan where most of the patients that I operated on were, were fairly young and many of them came with their fathers. They accompanied them to the facility. We spoke through translators. [00:38:00] Remember a particular young man. Dealing with his father through an interpreter and thinking to myself at the time in those causes between the translation, you know, what on earth does he think of us?

What? What does he think of these strange people in this very weird, sophisticated facility that suddenly appeared in the middle of the desert of what does he think of? Me a woman and infidel someone who’s about to entrust the life of his only son to. And what does that say about what our society thinks about women, about our willingness to send women to zones?

What does it say or what did it say about. As a mother with two children tucked up at [00:39:00] home in Australia, very safe in their environment when I’m about to operate on his son. And so there’s a whole malmstrom of different questions that need to be unpacked, but at the end of it, He was a father of a son, no different to any other father of any other son, and all he wanted was the best outcome that was possible for his little boy.

And I think that’s what it all distills down to at the end. We all have the same hopes and fears, and it doesn’t matter what religion we believe in or what uniform we wear. We all care fundamentally about those that are closest to us. Who are the people we love and we want the best for?

Steve Davis: Reminds me of a Leonard Cohen quote [00:40:00] in which he said, in the particular, we find the universal.

Indeed. Mm-hmm. We will come up to one last audio snippet and I know it’s gonna be a hard choice to try and choose cause I know there’s a, a plethora we can choose from. But just while you were pondering that father’s perspective of being in a modern Western field hospital can I ask you, When you are looking at reports of the war in Ukraine at the moment, what lens do you see that through?

Or how does dual lens as as a, as a surgeon, as someone who has practiced medicine in the field, in military, what do you see that we might not see? What do you think about that we might not think about?

Susan Neuhaus: I’m not sure that I see anything that you wouldn’t be seeing or thinking about. Just watching. It play out on our daily news [00:41:00] bulletins.

I suppose that in itself gives you a very different perspective. It becomes

it. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the television set in a way, and to be watching something unfolding without being on the ground where. The reality is that you have a problem, you fix the problem, you move to the next problem, you move to the next problem. So I’m not sure I’m really in a position to make much of an observation about that.

Steve Davis: Hmm, that’s interesting. Just by itself. Susan, can I ask you to select a final snippet of audio from this book? And by the way let’s just mention the narrator of this book. Who did you choose?

Susan Neuhaus: I chose Helen Hopkins, who was, as you would remember, brilliantly cast as one of the World War I characters in the play.

And she had just the perfect [00:42:00] voice for these women. So she did a marvelous, marvelous job with it, and I’m very grateful to her.

Steve Davis: And we should also mention that this book is available. You can buy it through all the various online bookstores, but also the audio book is available through just about every audio service out there known to humankind.

We’ll put links to all of this in the show notes. All going well technically, Susan, we have a few giveaway codes to share with people as.

Susan Neuhaus: Yes, Steve, you’d be most welcome to them.

Steve Davis: So let’s see if that happens. But either way, I hope it’s something that you are intrigued to buy and listen to or read. And before we hear our last snippet, Susan Neuhaus, what do you hope the impact of Not for Glory is on individuals, but also within the military and government establishment?[00:43:00]

Susan Neuhaus: That’s a very broad audience, Steve. Hmm.

Steve Davis: I’d like to finish with a light question.

Susan Neuhaus: A light question. Look, I think from my perspective and certainly my co-author, Sharon, the purpose of Not For Glory has very much been about sharing the stories. It’s been about gathering these stories of amazing women who’ve done amazing things.

And sharing them, throwing them out into the ethos so that people can learn more, that they can understand what’s happened, that what women have done, and. Hopefully they will. Hopefully they’ll just get a slither of an idea that there are so many other stories out there that need to be told and shared, and these women are just the most extraordinary role models and to migrate shame.

I didn’t know many of their stories when I was serving. I wish I had, but I [00:44:00] do now and I know that there’s many more that we’ve yet to discover.

Steve Davis: I think on that note, the, the analogy for me is I was at the optometrist for my annual checkup last week, and they have this thing you, you look through and then they try different lenses and suddenly you see things that you didn’t see before that are clearer than they were before.

And I think the, the beautiful thing about the book that you’ve co-authored, Is that it applies those lenses to our understanding of war, of the various roles and calls that people answered to be part of that in our society as a whole. So on behalf of all of us, thank you for, for making this a thing.

What is the final audio snippet that we are going to listen to? Steve,

Susan Neuhaus: I struggled to find a final one. There were so many good choices, but given that it is the lead up to Anzac Day is about recognizing and acknowledging the service and the [00:45:00] sacrifice of those that have served in our uniform, I thought long and hard about a snippet.

In relation to Dr. Susan Phelps, who was serving in the Western Sahara in 1993, the same year that I was in Cambodia, Sue and I were colleagues, and Sue was killed in July of that year in the Western Sahara, the first woman to die since. The second World War on Army operations, but I’ve actually landed with a slightly different one, which is another se story of sacrifice that I think Australians are sometimes not all that aware of, which is around the bombing of Darwin.

Lieutenant Jean Somerville, who was a 25 year old physiotherapist, along with one of her closest friends, sister Metra, the board, the hospital ship Menand. When the Japanese zeroes approached in cross the [00:46:00] team Ori, it was a tragedy in so many ways. Joan was critically injured. Her uniform hangs in the Australian War Memorial, and I think it is an important story that reminds us that no one serves with the intent of becoming a casualty.

But those echoes are very powerful and they’re the people that in the dawn of Banza Day, we should remember

Steve Davis: Susan Neuhaus. Thank you for joining that late show.

Steve Davis: Thank you, Steve.

Helen Hopkins: The sky darkened with the dense wall of black smoke rising from the. Surrounded by burning ships and listing herself as a result of a near miss aimed at the adjacent U S S pii.

The decks of the menand were sprayed with shrapnel killing four people. The menand was the second largest ship in harbor and clearly marked as a hospital chip. [00:47:00] Despite her visible red crosses, a single zero. Flew in at low altitude with its bombays. Dropping a well aimed inn into the aft hatch. The bomb went through the skylight of a lounge that was used as a music room on B deck, and turned the room into a mass of twisted debris.

All that remained of a grand piano were a few strands of twisted wire, and the steel bulkheads and deck were buckled as though made of. By this time, fire had broken out the medical and nursing staff quarters being totally destroyed. Men were flung overboard by the explosion, and some of the lifeboats were manned by the hospital crew to rescue injured men from the water.

Not satisfied. The pilot returned strafing the deck with machine gunfire and shr. 11 members of the [00:48:00] ship’s crew were killed on the menand and 18 seriously wounded. There were also many other minor wounds. Joan was critically injured. She sustained multiple shrapnel wounds that tore through her working dress.

Her 26 year old friend sister Margaret Demetri, who had served with Joan in Egypt was not so for. Hit in the back by Srap. Margaret died of her wounds two hours later,

Steve Davis: and now

it’s time for the musical pilgrimage. A slightly different. Musical pilgrimage to finish this episode, and it is a snippet from the 2022 Anzac dawn service from the South Australian War Memorial, [00:49:00] and it features lest we forget, and the last Post

Anzac Service: Your Excellence. See you ladies and gentlemen. I now invite Uncle Frank Lampard to recite the OD of Remembrance.

As I’ve mentioned, uncle Frank is co-chair of Aboriginal Veterans sa. He was conscripted for National Service in 1966 and served with the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps until 1969. His younger brother Lawrence, followed in his footsteps and voluntarily en enlisted in the Army, serving in Vietnam as platoon medic with the Sixth Battalion Royal Australian Regiment on its second tour of Vietnam in 19 69, 19.

After the ode, you are requested to remove non-military headdress and stand fast. While the last post is sounded. The last post will be followed by two minute silence and the sounding of ravelli.

Uncle Frank Lampard OAM: They shall not grow old as we that are left. [00:50:00] Grow old age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn at the going down of the sun.

And in the morning we will remember them

lest [00:51:00] we [00:52:00] forget.

Steve Davis: The [00:53:00] last [00:54:00] post brings this episode to a close. Until next time, it’s goodnight for me, Steve Davis. Goodnight Dawn. Lest we forget,

Caitlin Davis: the Adelaide Show Podcast is produced by my dad, Steve Davis. If you want to start a podcast or get some help [00:55:00] producing creative content, talk to him. Visit steve au.

Thanks, aj. I’m Caitlin Davis and I agree with everything my. But there’s one more thing to say. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please leave a rating or a review cuz that will make my dad really happy. Oh, and one more thing. If you really, really liked it, please help a friend put the Adelaide Show on their phone.

Thanks for listening.


2 Responses

  1. Wow Stephen it looks like a brilliant and moving episode. When I’m feeling better, I will read and listen to what you have put together. Pity we couldn’t find your poem.

  2. What an incredible podcast Steve. So much information beautifully put. I will read the text next.

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