Photo Gallery




Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Nurse / Sister / Masseuse 30 Nov 1879 36y11m 1914 24 Dec 1920 1

Sister Una Noble Davidson (1879-1957)  


Family background

Una Noble Davidson, the third child of John Davidson, Chemist & Druggist, and Elizabeth Alice (nee Noble) was born on 30 November 1879 in Stanthorpe.    An 1872 photograph of her father’s business premises, with possibly her father in the foreground, is shown in the photo gallery.

Training and service

The British Red Cross WW1 Service records for Sister Davidson show that she was in service as a Trained Nurse from November 1914 until June 1916. During that period, she served from February 1915 until July 1915 as a Trained Nurse in France and in Serbian Relief in Serbia. In April 1917, she joined the Army Massage Service and was appointed as a Masseuse in May 1917. She would continue in this profession for the rest of her life.

Enlistment for overseas duty with the AIF

One year later, in April 1918, she enlisted for overseas duty with the AIF, Army Massage Services Corps and embarked on 18 October 1918 from Sydney on the SS Pakeha. She arrived and disembarked at Suez on 22 November 1918.  She served in the AANS (Australian Army Nursing Service) in Egypt from November 1918 until August 1919.  

Sister Una Davidson was one of 26 female and 16 male masseuses who served overseas.  Australian Masseuses, both men and women, served in a number of units overseas.  Generally one masseuse was allocated to each Australian Hospital ship. There were also 175 masseuses who served in hospitals in Australia at the time.

Return to Brisbane

In the Social Pages of The Brisbane Courier in August 1919, it was reported that Sister Davidson had returned from Egypt aboard the Dunluce Castle on 31 August 1919.  She was discharged as medically unfit, suffering from anaemia, in December 1919.

After her return to Brisbane in 1919, Sister Davidson lived and worked at the Rosemount Hospital as a masseuse.    A photgraph of the Massage Ward where Sister Davidson would have worked is shown in the gallery.

Occupation after the war

In 1921 it appears that Sister Davidson subsequently opened a private Convalescent and Rest Home called Idar on Gregory Terrace as it was reported in The Brisbane Courier of 27 September as follows:

Idar - The Brisbane Courier 27 Sept 1921

“Miss U N Davidson draws attention by advertisement to her newly-established convalescent and rest home – Idar, Gregory Terrace. Miss Davidson, who holds the certificates of the ATNA and AMA saw active service in Egypt with the AIF and in France and Serbia with the British Nursing Units.”

This establishment, still called Idar, was later to become a Boarding House and was described in many advertisements in The Brisbane Courier in 1931 as having -

 “A beautiful position overlooking Victoria Park and the golf links with running water and large open rooms with balconies.”

Una Davidson was recorded in Electoral Rolls as living at Gregory Terrace until 1925, but a subsequent entry in the Advertising Section of The Brisbane Courier on 22 March 1928, shows her operating a business as a Masseuse at Claminda, Riverton Street, Clayfield.    Her address in the Electoral Rolls of 1936 is 33 Winifred Street, Clayfield and her occupation was listed as Masseuse.    


Una lived at Winifred Street in Clayfield until 1954 and she died on 15 November 1957 at the age of 77 years.  Sister Una Davidson never married but had a sister, Mrs Maud Alice Gibson, living at Ormiston in Brisbane.

Select Bibliography
• AIF archived records 
• WW1 Australian Women Services Units – Masseuses website 
• Australian War Memorial 
• Saint Andrew's Uniting Church Archives
• Digitised newspapers and photographs, Trove, National Library of Australia 
• Queensland War Memorial Register 
• Department of Environment & Heritage Protection, Queensland Government website 
• State Library of Queensland 
• British Red Cross WW1 Service Records website

Researched and written by Miriam King, February 1915 ©



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