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APPLEFORD, Sydney Theodore (1891-1959)

APPLEFORD, Dr Sydney Theodore (1891-1959)

Sydney Theodore Appleford (Annual Report, 1907).

Sydney Theodore Appleford
(Annual Report, 1907).

Medical Practitioner, Sydney Appleford, served in both World War I and World War II as well as operating his own hospital between the wars.

Born on 29 August, 1891, the son of works contractor, John Appleford (1858-1943) and Mary Louisa nee Knight (1862-1944), he was recorded at enrolment at Verner Street, Geelong. He was the second of four chidren, the others being: Leslie Oswald Appleford (1889-1990); Effie Mabel Appleford (1893-1972) and Sylvia Grace Appleford (1897-?).

He was admitted to Geelong College from 1904 to 1908 where he distinguished himself as Dux in 1907 and a member of the 1st Cricket XI in 1908. His academic performance had been outstanding. In 1904, he had been 1st in the Upper 4th Form in Arithmetic, Euclid (Middle 4th Form), Geography and History. In 1905, in the University Form A he had been 2nd in English and again 1st in History. In 1907, he was 1st in Algebra, 2nd in Geometry, 2nd in Chemistry, 2nd in Physics, and 1st in Triginometry in his respective classes and in 1908, 1st in Chemistry and Physics in the Honour 6th Form. He entered Ormond College after having been awarded the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) exit scholarship. At the University of Melbourne, he graduated MBBS, with Exhibitions in Chemistry and Natural Philosophy.

Dr Sydney Theodore Appleford

Dr Sydney Theodore Appleford

He enlisted as Captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps, AIF on 23 December 1916, embarking that day on RMS Orontes. He served in Egypt and France, in the 2nd Australian General Hospital (AGH), 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance, No 1 AGH, 15th Field Ambulance and 5th Divisional Train. According to his enlistment papers he had previous service in the AIF from October 1915.

Robin Corfield’s Hold Hard, Cobbers quoted Tom Kerr’s diary of June 1918:
'Syd Appleford and J Pearce came to dinner. Tom pretty blotto. MacRoberts, J P (Pearce) and SA (Appleford) and self played Bridge. Major T and Web called, both pretty who’s this! 9 June (Sunday) Church parade in morning. Col on parade. Bde affair. Pomp there. Col, Adj and self fixed up Nucleus in afternoon. Good Boxing on Stadium at night. 10 June. Bde Sports at wood near Allonville. 60 marched over from Cardonette. 59 from Frechencourt. 60th won cup 27 pts, 59th second 21pts, 58th 3rd and 57th last. J T Burns won Platoon competition. Hibbert 440 and mile. Good day. Gen. Stewart, Col. Marshall, Cameron and others there. Keith Doig and I had dinner with 15 Field Ambulance with Jim Pearce and Syd Appleford. Raining.'

Theodore returned to Australia on 14 January 1919, disembarking in April 1919. Shortly after his return he married Alice (Alys) Ross-King (c1887-1968) on 20 (21?) August 1919 at Wesley Church, Melbourne. Alice is believed to have been born at Ballarat on 5 August, 1887 though there seems some debate about her birth date and her father, the phantom, Archibald Ross. There does not seem to be any evidence that her mother married an Archibald Ross. Her birth registration lists her birth name as Alice Ross Ward (Reg 16681) after her mother, Henrietta Christina Ward. There is a suggestion that she was baptised 'Alys' rather than Alice and her first name seems to have often been interchanged. Alice trained as a nurse in Melbourne and served with the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) during World War I. She was depicted as the lead character in the ABC television series 'The Anzacs' . Theodore and Alice had four children and they operated a private hospital at Lang Lang, South Gippsland between the wars.

About six months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Sydney Theodore again enlisted (No V83531) on 12 April 1940, to serve as Lt-Col S T Appleford at Headquarters Southern Command. He was discharged on 5 January 1949.

They moved to 255 Buckley St, Moonee Ponds by about 1940 where they lived until Sydney's death on 20 September 1959. Alice later moved to Sydney, NSW and died at Cronulla NSW on 17 August 1968. Both Sydney, listed as age 69, and Alice, listed as Alys Ross Appleford, age 78, were interred at Fawkner Cemetery Presbyterian Section (4501), Melbourne. There is also a Memorial Listing in Sydney, NSW for Alys Ross Appleford, age 81 years.

During World War II, Alice had rejoined the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD) which later became the Australian Army Women's Medical Service (AAWMS). She was commissioned a Major in the AAWMS.

'The Victorian Honour Roll of Women 2008' described Alice (Alys) and Sydney's service before and during the Second World War: ‘(On returning home, she and Sydney Appleford) settled in South Gippsland. During this time, they established a medical practice and Major (Alice) Appleford trained Volunteer Aid Detachments (VAD), who were medically trained but not fully qualified nurses. By 1940, the family had moved back to Melbourne where Major Appleford's husband enlisted for the Army at the outbreak of World War II. Alys (Alice) undertook full time duties with the VAD and was commissioned as a Major in 1945. Once again she was recognised for her outstanding work, being awarded the Royal Red Cross and the Florence Nightingale Medals. After World War II, Alys (Alice) remained devoted to community service through her committment to the Australian Red Cross and war service charities, support for war widows and children, and through her concern for the wellbeing of the Australian Army Women's Medical Service (AAWMS) members. Major Appleford died on 17 August 1968, but her memory lives on in the Alice Appleford Memorial Award, presented annually to an outstanding member of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps.’

Alice '(Alys) King was educated first at the Academy of Mary Immaculate (Convent of Mercy) Fitzroy, and later at Presbyterian Ladies' College. Before World War I, Alice King was a theatre sister and had been in charge of a private hospital in Collins Street. She enlisted as a staff nurse in the AANS, AIF, on 5 November 1914; her surname was hyphenated to Ross-King to distinguish her from another Alice King in the AANS. She embarked from Brisbane on 21 November, 1914 with the 1st Australian General Hospital, bound for Egypt. Her appointment as sister, AANS, was effective from that date.

Sister, Alice Ross King had previously been engaged in 1916 to a 53rd Battalion soldier, Lt Harry Lowry Moffitt, the son of George Lowry and Rebecca Moffitt, of Gisborne. Alice had nursed him during the Gallipoli campaign, and they met again in France where they became engaged; he was killed at Fromelles on 19 July 1916, however, and buried by the Germans in the mass grave at Fromelles which was excavated in 2009.

The Australian War Memorial holds in its collection, diaries, letters and photographs relating to Alys Ross-King.'

Sources: Geelong Collegians at the Great World War compiled by James Affleck. p133 (citing The University of Melbourne: Record of Active Service of Teachers, Graduates, Undergraduates, Officers and Servants (1926); Geelong Collegians at the Second World War compiled by James Affleck. pp107-108 ( citing Pegasus; Australian War Memorial; National Archives; Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition Alys (Ross-King) Appleford; Victorian Honour Roll of Women: Inspirational Women from All Walks of Life; Photo Mark Appleford.); Robin Corfield, Hold Hard, Cobbers Volume One 1912-1930: The Story of the 57th and 60th and 57/60th Australian Infantry Battalions 1912-1990; National Archives.); Pegasus, 1909 p6, p31, p34; Sydney Morning Herald 19 Aug 1968; ADB Vol 11, 1988 'Alice Ross-King (1891-1968)' by Lorna M Finnie
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