Sister D B Millard

Sister DB Millard

On Friday 29 June 1928, the West Coast Sentinel reported the terrible drowning fatality and death of Sister Millard with the following details.

On Saturday afternoon a motoring party set out from Streaky Bay to visit the caves at Talia. They were Mr and Mrs JB Hastings, Mr and Mrs WH Brownrigg and Sister Doris Millard. (Sister Millard was trained in the Broken Hill Hospital about five years previously. She was a sister of Alderman Millard, Mr Claude Millard and Mrs AE Roper, all of Broken Hill.)

They were a happy party and arrived at Talia where they stayed for the night. The Sunday morning was bright and beautiful. Mrs Brownrigg and Sister Millard went for a walk before breakfast and after that Sister Millard, full of health and good spirits, suggested a walk toward the sea cliffs to take some photographs.

Accompanied by Mr Brownrigg they reached a narrow ledge skirting the cliff overhanging a deep fissure or narrow funnel-like arm of the sea. Mr Brownrigg on going round the ledge advised Sister Millard not to attempt the ledge, but she said ‘If you can go there, I can’. Mr Brownrigg went a few steps when he heard a noise behind him. Turning around he was horrified to see that Sister Millard had fallen some 30 feet into the raging waters in the fissure.

He did not see the actual fall but only saw the poor Sister struggling in the turbid waters. How he got down he does not know, but he found himself astride the flume. He could see Sister Millard fighting for her life, the sea rushing her relentlessly backwards and forwards. She was at times only a few feet away from him and he called directions to her, which she, poor woman, with almost unnatural calmness and bravery, tried to obey.

Sometimes she was swept by the waves in their narrow confines high up out of reach as they came into the cleft and on their receding she would be dashed along at a lower level. Mr Brownrigg did all that was humanly possible to be done, but Sister Millard, having heroically and fearlessly fought for some fifteen minutes, was at last compelled to succumb and sunk to rise no more.

The agony of mind of her would-be rescuer may be when he saw the lady's sad end which he was powerless to prevent. He could see the poor dead body carried out to sea and so ended the life of a good woman, beloved by all, who even in the presence of death retained that calm which was one of her much loved characteristics when living.

Words cannot tell of the grief and sufferings of the dead lady's friends, and the effect and shock to one who so gallantly tried to save, will take long to forget and will scarce ever be healed. The kindness, thoughtfulness and solicitude of those living in the vicinity, to the grief stricken friends of the drowned lady will not readily be forgotten.

The Elliston police told Mr Brownrigg that had he attempted to go into the water or had Mr Hastings tried to assist by venturing too far, a triple tragedy would have been recorded. The beach is being patrolled, but up to the time of writing the body had not been recovered.

Sister Doris Belle Millard was born in Broken Hill and had been charge nurse at the Streaky Bay Hospital since early in November last. She was a general favourite. Friends got into communication with her mother at Prahran, Melbourne, and the sad news was broken. We extend to her, and all that knew Sister Millard, our heartfelt sympathy.

A service was organised by Stan Emery the police officer on Wednesday afternoon. About fifty people attended and the service was conducted by the Revs. Arthur (Methodist) and Lane (Anglican) and was most impressive. Emery also took the report of the accident and notified Sister Millard's parents in Melbourne.

The West Coast Sentinel later published a list of subscriptions totalling some £33 for a memorial to Sister Millard at the scene of the accident, which would also serve as a warning to people visiting that dangerous part of the coast. In addition to the subscriptions, Mr W Poole of Colton, promised to erect the monument free of cost with the assistance of local residents. This was done and the unveiling ceremony took place on 25 November 1928.


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