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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Croll, Hope (1901–1982)

by Kathryn Spurling

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Hope Croll (1901-1982), army and hospital matron, was born on 17 March 1901 at Bungwahl, New South Wales, fourth child of James Croll, sawmill proprietor, and his wife Jessie Sarah, née Souter, both born in New South Wales. Raised in the Anglican faith and educated privately, Hope held a long-cherished ambition to become a nurse. She completed her general nursing training at Marrickville District Hospital, Sydney, in 1927 and obtained her midwifery certificate at the Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington, in 1930. Having gained experience at the Forbes and Maitland hospitals, she became matron at Moree District Hospital in 1935. Five years later she moved to the Armidale and New England Hospital.

On 1 February 1941 Croll was appointed matron, Australian Army Nursing Service, and posted to the 113th Australian General Hospital, Concord. She took charge of the new hospital’s nursing staff, which eventually numbered more than two hundred. Five ft 5¾ ins (167 cm) tall, with grey eyes and brown hair, Matron Croll was described as `forthright’, `very professional’ and `imposing’. She was appointed major, Australian Imperial Force, in March 1943.

In April 1944 Croll was made matron of the 2/9th AGH, then at Tamworth. Promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel in April 1945 (substantive in September), she arrived on Morotai Island, Netherlands East Indies, with her nurses in June. By early July the hospital held some 770 patients. Tropical campaigns meant that patients suffering from diseases such as dysentery, dengue fever and malaria outnumbered the wounded. On Morotai the lives of the nursing staff were very restricted. Owing to the enemy presence on the island, nurses were permitted to leave the hospital only in groups of six or more, accompanied by armed escorts. There were other challenges too—rain, mud, insects and floods which brought snakes into sleeping quarters. The nurses themselves were not immune to the tropical diseases that ravaged their patients. For the professionalism she exhibited at Morotai, Croll was awarded the United States’ Bronze Star in 1945. She returned to Sydney in March 1946 and transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 2 October. In March 1947 she was awarded the Royal Red Cross for her `example and inspiring leadership’ at Morotai.

Miss Croll’s dedication to the nursing profession continued into peacetime. She was matron of the Rankin Park chest unit of the (Royal) Newcastle Hospital in 1947-51 and of Maitland Hospital in 1951-55. As matron of the Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay, in 1955-66, she played an important part in its development as a teaching hospital. There she was seen as an `intelligent, hard working, competent administrator’ who was `approachable and enthusiastic but never familiar’. A foundation fellow (1952) of the New South Wales College of Nursing, she was president of the college in 1956-58. At various times she also presided over the Australasian Trained Nurses’ Association, the Institute of Hospital Matrons of New South Wales and the Maitland branch of the Australian Red Cross Society. In 1959 she was appointed MBE. Retiring to her home at Mosman in 1966, she spent much of her leisure time supporting returned nurses’ organisations. Her favourite hobby was gardening. She died on 7 March 1982 at Hornsby and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Crouch, A Special Kind of Service (1986)
  • R. Goodman, Our War Nurses (1988)
  • M. Cordia, Nurses at Little Bay (1990)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, `Women’s Section’, 10 Mar 1966, p 8
  • series B883, item NX138748 (National Archives of Australia).

Citation details

Kathryn Spurling, 'Croll, Hope (1901–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 2 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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