World War Two nurse dies aged 100

By Christine McKay -
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World War II nurse,  Beatrice (Betty) Erica Wakely (Regiment No. 811713)  and her son Dennis wearing his father's World War II medals, at this year’s Anzac Day civic service at the Dannevirke Cenotaph.
World War II nurse, Beatrice (Betty) Erica Wakely (Regiment No. 811713) and her son Dennis wearing his father's World War II medals, at this year’s Anzac Day civic service at the Dannevirke Cenotaph.

Beatrice (Betty) Erica Wakely, the last surviving female member of the RSA in Dannevirke who served overseas during WWII, has passed away in her 100th year.

Mrs Wakely was born and raised in Dannevirke, began her nursing career in 1939 at Waipukurau and went on to become a registered nurse and midwife.

Asked to serve as a nurse in the army Betty, 23, left Wellington Harbour aboard a hospital ship heading to the Middle East, where she served in Egypt, North Africa and Italy.

She served in the Middle East at No 5 New Zealand General Hospital (NZGH) in Helwan, south of Cairo.

The camp was originally a summer camp for wealthy British until it was commissioned as a field hospital.

Betty met Sergeant William James Wakely during the war.They  married in Cairo on November 22, 1945, and returned  home in 1946.
Betty met Sergeant William James Wakely during the war.They married in Cairo on November 22, 1945, and returned home in 1946.

Mrs Wakely also spent a great deal of time in a small town on the outskirts of Naples, Italy, tending to the troops there.

Working in a field hospital, she met Sergeant William (Bill) James Wakely (Regiment No. 36120), who was in charge of hygiene with the 8th infantry.

Mr Wakely had spent more than three years as a prisoner of war in Campo 52 on the northern Italian border under the Swiss Alps.

On November 22, 1945, the couple married in Cairo, eventually moving back to Dannevirke and on to the Wakely family sheep and beef farm at Mangatoro, where they had six children.

Mrs Wakely was a familiar face at Dannevirke Anzac Day services, placing a wreath on the Cenotaph on behalf of the Prisoner of War Association, in memory of her husband Bill.

Her life will be celebrated at a service today at the Chapel of Tararua Funeral Services at 2pm.

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