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Title: Eileen Mary Neenan
Date of Death: 1989-04-01
Date of Birth: 1905-03-18
Place of Birth: Williamstown (Vic.)
Place of Death: Melbourne (Vic.)
Place of Burial: Melbourne (Vic.)
Cultural heritage: Irish
Occupation: Nurse
Business Woman
Biographical notes: Eileen was the eldest of five children born to parents Hilda Mary nee Hodgetts and Timothy Patrick Neenan (aka Tom) in 1904 in Williamstown, Victoria, where her father worked for Victoria Railways. Eileen's mother died in 1918 from complications of an appendectomy and her youngest brother died later in the same year. The remaining four children were cared for by Eileen's fathers' close knit family as he never remarried. The children attended St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception parish school. Eileen never attended secondary school but both she and her sister Hilda went on to be trained as nurses. Eileen started her training at the Austin Hospital. She was then assigned to various other hospitals over the next four and half years as she progressed through her training. On the completion of her training at the Austin Hospital, Eileen then joined the staff at the Women's Hospital in Melbourne. In early 1940 Eileen accepted a position with the Commonwealth Government Department of Health to superintend on the bush nursing circuit in the Northern Territory. The position was based in Alice Springs but Eileen also worked in the Tennant Creek and Darwin Hospitals. Eileen was working at the new Darwin Hospital in Lambell Terrace which had opened on 2 February 1942 when it was bombed just 17 days after opening. It came under Army control in March 1942 and remained so until June 1946 when civilian administration was resumed. The hospital itself was bombed despite a large red cross painted on the roof and became one of the receiving points for the many injuries as a result of the raids. Eileen met Harold Victor Elcock at some point during her time in Darwin. Eileen was eventually evacuated back to Melbourne in 1943 but as she had agreed to marry Harold, she managed to get a flight to Alice Springs where Harold was based and was married on the evening of 14 April 1943. Eileen was nominated for an M.B.E. (Civil Division) for her 'Brave conduct in face of extreme danger from enemy bombing' in March 1943. Eileen heard the announcement on the radio in her home in Alice Springs before she received the official telegram later in the day on 31 July 1943. Eileen was presented with her award after the war by His Honour, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, Mr. A. R. Driver at a reception for the Chief of Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery at the Darwin Oval on 30 June 1947 in front of a large crowd of over 300 people. Lord Montgomery, who was the first to congratulate Eileen on her award, had just flown in from Singapore. In 1946 Eileen opened the 'Kay Garland' cosmetic shop in Mitchell Street opposite the Hotel Darwin bar. She later branched out into women's fashions including corsetry and travelled interstate sourcing products suitable for sale in her refurbished shop. Eileen was very active in the local community. She adjudicated in Dancing Championships, was often ‘Matron of Honour' at Debutant Balls held at the Catholic Palais, and would act as compere at Mannequin Parades held by the CWA. She was, at various times, president of the Darwin branches of the Australian Red Cross, the Country Women's Association and the Ladies' Golf Club and was involved in establishing an ex-nurses association in Darwin. Eileen also participated in the activities of the CWA while living in Alice Springs. Eileen relinquished ownership of her ‘Kay Garland' shop by holding a farewell party on 19 October 1951. By this time her husband, Harold Elcock had established his company Elcock Constructions in Alice Springs but due to a lack of work in the Territory, successfully tendered for construction work in Millicent, South Australia where he eventually moved his company. In 1955 Harold and Eileen bought 1750 acres at Robe, which they named Goodearth. Harold developed the property using his earthmoving equipment and eventually established commercial herds of cattle and sheep on the property. Eileen continued her association with both the CWA and the Red Cross in Robe. Eileen and Harold never had any children. Eileen died 1 April, 1989 in Melbourne, Victoria.
Honours and Awards: The Order of the British Empire - Member (Civil) 1943.
Related link: The Order of the British Empire - Member (Civil) 1943
Eileen Elcock Trove book list
Central Chancery to the Orders of Knighthood. London Gazette Supplement, 16 July 1943: p. 3214.
Australian War Memorial
Transcript of interview with Eileen Elcock, MBE. 1986.
Related Materials: Manuscript 83 Harold Victor Elcock Manuscript Collection. Northern Territory Library.
Subject: Women
Northern Territory
Bombing, Aerial
Northern Territory
Northern Territory
Northern Territory
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Appears in Collections:Territory Women

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