Lives of the First World War includes the stories of men and women who served with Australian and New Zealand Forces in the First World War. Here are the stories of Australian couple Nellie Alfreda Pike and Charles George Laffin, who both served their country in wartime.
- The story behind the photograph
Nellie was born in 1893 in Wellington, New South Wales and enlisted on 3 July 1915 as a trained nurse. She embarked from Sydney as a Staff Nurse on RMS Orontes on 31 July 1915. She served on Lemnos with 3 Australian General Hospital during the Gallipoli campaign, and then at the Bulkley Rest Home in Abassia.
“We were all glad to be taking part in the great adventure. They were grim and tragic, but somehow inspiring days” – Staff Nurse Nellie Pike
George was born in 1894 in Fitzroy, Melbourne in Victoria. Before the war he worked as a shop assistant. He enlisted on 2 May 1915 with 3 Australian General Hospital. Like Nellie, he served with this unit in the Mediterranean and so it is likely that this is when they met.
On 5 October 1916 Nellie arrived in England and served at the Kitchener War Hospital in Brighton. On 23 March 1917 she was detached to duty at the No 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield, then on 9 September 1917 to duty at the Australian Nurses Home in St Albans.
By this time, George was serving in France. George and Nellie were married in St Albans on 28 September 1917, and Nellie resigned her post. Shortly after the wedding George undertook officer training in Cambridge and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 1 April 1918. He returned to Australia on 24 August 1918.
Nellie and George had a son, John, who was born in 1922. The family travelled to the former battlefields, which inspired John to later become a military historian. John served in the Second World War and also married a nurse. George died in 1948, and Nellie in 1980.