Dec 292015
Possible photo of Sister Mary Sumner

Possible photo of Sister Mary Sumner. Source:


14 June 1876 – Born Mary Katherine Curtain in Tasmania, Australia to David Donal Curtin and Maria Agnes McGuire

1915 (early) – Mary enlisted with the Aust Army Nursing Service in Tasmania along with 3 of her sisters and sailed from Tasmania and was attached to the 1st Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis, Egypt. Sister Curtain was later attached to the British Base Hospital at Rouon, France. 1 Mr. Robb was quoted in the Gosford Times as Mary enlisting in early 1914 but it is most likely that this should have been 1914 as the war only started in the second half of 1914 – Read the complete newspaper article here 2 Australian Nurses in World War 1 claims that Mary enlisted on 05 May 1915 3

1918 – Returned to Australia in 1918 as medically unfit 4 and appointed Matron of the T.B. Soldiers’ Sanatorium, Launceston, Tasmania. 5

1918 (end of) to 1926 – Mary was on the nursing staff at Namanula Hospital, Rabaul New Guinea. Prior to her resignation to marry Mr. Ronald H. Sumner, she was acting Matron. 6

< June 1929 – Mary and Ron Sumner have ‘temporarily’ relocated from the Admiralty Islands to Brisbane Waters in the Gosford district.

Oct 1932 [Date TBC] – Living at Terrigal near Gosford until the time of her death in Sydney in 1932. 7The funeral, which was one of the largest seen in Gosford for a long while, was conducted by the Rev. Father Donovan, and moved from Our Lady of the Rosary Church to Point Clare cemetery. The mortuary arrangements were carried out by Mr. R. H. Creighton. 8At the time of Mary’s passing Two sisters of the late Mrs. Sumner were residents in Hobart, Mrs. Tyler, Short Street, Glebe, and Mrs. Dalco, 87 Argyle Street. 9

19th March 1933 – A small stone tablet with the cut inscription “Tree planted in memory of Katherine Sumner, ex-nursing sister A.A.N.S., by fellow members of the C.W.A.” was erected honouring Sister Mary Katherine (Kate) Curtain (Mrs Ronald Sumner) and an accompanying Grievilla Banksia tree (commonly known as a ‘torch tree’) in the Memorial Park in Mann St Gosford. The hymn ‘Lead, Kindly Light’ was sung at the ceremony. The Gosford Times newspaper reported on the ceremony, you can read it here. 10 For photographs of the memorial in the Gosford Memorial Park see, Gosford Memorial Park – Sister Sumner Memorial.