Veterans Services - Military History
Concord Repatriation General Hospital has a proud history of service to the military and veteran communities.
Even before Concord’s foundation as a military hospital during World War II, the site on the banks of the Parramatta River was synonymous with care for returning soldiers. It was while staying at Yaralla in July 1914 that the Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson was notified formally by the British Government that war with Germany appeared inevitable.
A year later, as wounded Australian soldiers returned from the battlefields, Dame Eadith Walker offered Yaralla as a home to tubercular servicemen who had been housed at the North Head Quarantine Station. In 1917 she established a camp in the grounds of Yaralla, personally financing the treatment of these soldiers. After Dame Eadith’s death in 1937, the trustees of her estate proposed a memorial hospital be built as a convalescent centre for men, and for ex-servicemen in particular.
When World War II erupted in 1939 the Army Department identified the site as ideal for building a hospital for the 2nd Military Division and construction of the first wards for the 113th Australian General Hospital began in November 1940. Dr William Wood, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, was appointed the first Commanding Officer and took up residence in early 1941, by which time a work force of more than 2000 was employed on site.
The first patients were admitted on March 7 1941 and the 113th AGH was opened officially the following month. Throughout the war years Concord cared for a continuous stream of battlefield casualties, not only from Australia’s forces, but also Americans, Filipinos and even Japanese prisoners of war. Dedicated staff treated men with severe wounds and burns, tropical diseases and suffering starvation. Concord was also a significant training ground for hundreds of nurses and medical staff, many of whom were to risk their own lives, serving overseas.
The sinking of the hospital ship Centaur was met with anguish at Concord as the nurses and medical teams on board were known to many staff at the hospital, who had trained alongside them.
By May 1947 when it became the Repatriation General Hospital Concord, the hospital was the largest in the southern hemisphere, providing more than 2000 beds. The Repatriation Commission then administered the hospital until 1993, and in that period Concord achieved outstanding results in caring for veterans.