New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood

New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood

Miss Ettie A Rout

Miss Rout was an Australian born, New Zealand bred, anti venereal disease campaigner who in 1915 formed the New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood. During the war she also ran several soldier's clubs in Egypt, England and France.

She would inspect brothels in the company of Army medical officers and on behalf of the Sisterhood issue a statement in the form "..we are all convinced that at the present time it makes safe and suitable provision for the sexual needs of the troops"-see AWM private record 3DRL/6487 item 55.

In 1919 and 1920 she ran a Red Cross depot in Villers-Bretonneux and was awarded a French decoration for this work.

Ettie Annie Rout
ALSO KNOWN AS Ettie Hornibrook
24 February 1877 - 17 September 1936

PLACE OF BIRTH - Launceston Tasmania Australia

Mentioned in Despatches (MiD)
MiD. London Gazette 6th July 1917, page 6774 "Hon. Sec. N.Z. Volunteer Nursing Sisters". The entire 6th July 1917 London Gazette Supplement Despatch is written by A.J. Murray, General, Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force and relates to the Egyptian Campaign.

New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood

Died of Sickness
Cause of Death : Overdose of quinine

Cook Islands Christian Church (London Missionary Society Church)
Cook Islands

above information & photo from Auckland War memorial

Tasmanian Womans Roll of Honour entry on her,_Ettie_Annie

Celebrating Ettie Rout Sexual Health Pioneer (PDF)

The New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood ( NZVS ) 

New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood. Ettie Rout with her Volunteer Sisterhood. 
S P Andrew Ltd :Portrait negatives. 
Ref: 1/1-014727-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Photo Taken by Stanley Polkinghorne Andrew in October 1915.

A formal portrait of Ettie Rout (in the middle without a hat) and the first group of her New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood to go overseas. Their uniforms were long blue-print dresses with white aprons and panama hats. 
Eileen Neilson is at the far right, back row. 
Marion Higgens and Agnes Kerr (with glasses) are on either side of Ettie Rout. 
Dora Murch is at right, front row. Emily Leggatt is behind Ettie Rout, third from left, back row. Ada Ballintine is third from right, back row. 

Research by Barry O'Sullivan in to the NZVS

A special Thank you to Barry O'Sullivan for sharing and allowing his Research into History of NZVS and the List of Names that he has complied to be put up on this website ( 19th Sept 2016

The New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood

Much more that Ettie and Venereal Diseases

by Barry O’Sullivan

The New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood Much more that Ettie and Venereal Diseases by Barry O’Sullivan

Please click on the Doc to see it fully 

Full List of Names of Women who served in the NZVS 
- Research by Barry O'Sullivan

Names of the NZVS by Barry O'Sullivan

Please click on the Doc to see it fully 

The Old List as it was know by Jennifer Baker - prior to Barry O'Sullivan research 
1 Australian Woman
7 New Zealand Women

 Ettie Annie Rout New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood 
 Miss R. Mildred Stephens New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood 
Miss R. Mildred Stephens - New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood

Digitised record available

 Eileen Neilson New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood 
 Marion Higgens New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood 
Miss Marion Higgens - Voluntary Aid Detachment

Digitised record available

 Agnes Kerr New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood 
 Dora Murch  New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood 
 Emily Leggatt  New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood 
 Ada Ballintine  New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood 


In July 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign, Ettie Rout set up the New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood and invited women between the ages of 30 and 50 to go to Egypt to care for New Zealand soldiers. In spite of government opposition, she sent the first batch of 12 volunteers to Cairo that October.

Ettie Rout arrived in Egypt in February 1916 and immediately noticed the soldiers' high venereal disease rate. She saw this as a medical, not a moral, problem and one that should be approached like any other disease – with all available preventive measures. She recommended the issue of prophylactic kits and the establishment of inspected brothels, and she tried to persuade the New Zealand Medical Corps officers to this view, with no success.

Believing that the army was not looking after the men well enough, she opened the Tel El Kebir Soldiers' Club, and later a canteen at El Qantara, to provide better rest and recreation facilities and better food. For this work she was mentioned in dispatches and in the Australian official war history.

In June 1917 the venereal disease problem was still very bad, so she went to London to push the New Zealand Medical Corps into adopting prophylactic measures. She combined the work of several researchers to produce her own prophylactic kit, containing calomel ointment, condoms and Condy's crystals (potassium permanganate). She sold these at the New Zealand Medical Soldiers Club, which she set up at Hornchurch near the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital.

At the end of 1917 the New Zealand Expeditionary Force adopted her kit and made it a free and compulsory distribution to soldiers going on leave. Ettie Rout received no credit for her role in the kit's development and adoption, and for the duration of the war the Cabinet banned her from New Zealand newspapers under the War Regulations. Mention of her brought a potential £100 fine after one of her letters, suggesting kits and hygienic brothels, had been published in the New Zealand Times. Ironically, this letter had been instrumental in the decision of the minister of defence, James Allen, to approve the issue of the kit. Others, particularly women's groups, accused her of trying to make vice safe. Lady Stout led a deputation of women to ask the prime minister, William Massey, to put an end to Rout's Hornchurch club.  ( AWMM)

Villers-Bretonneux, France 

AWM Photo - H03654
Paris, France. 1918-09. Soldiers from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with Ettie Rout of the New Zealand Volunteer Service relaxing on leave during a card game.

AWM Photo - E05468
France: Picardie, Somme, Amiens Harbonnieres Area, Villers-Bretonneux Area, Villers-Bretonneux
25 July 1919
An informal group portrait of unidentified members of the Australian Graves Detachment, French civilians, a New Zealand staff sergeant, a French soldier and Miss Ettie A Rout, gathered in front of building ruins. Miss Rout ran the YMCA club in the village which was used by troops stationed in the Villers-Bretonneux area.

AWM Photo E05447
France: Picardie, Somme, Amiens Harbonnieres Area, Villers-Bretonneux Area, Villers-Bretonneux
3 August 1919
An outdoors group portrait of unidentified Australian, New Zealand, British and French servicemen and women outside the soldiers club on the occasion of its opening by Lieutenant Colonel J E Mott MC, 48th Battalion (second row, centre). The servicewomen are members of Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. This club was managed by Miss Ettie A Rout (the woman in the centre) and used by troops stationed in the Villers-Bretonneux area.


Jane Tolerton. 'Rout, Ettie Annie', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 28-Jan-2014

Obit. Evening Post. 18 Sept. 1936: 11

Rout, E. A. Two years in Paris. London, 1923

Tolerton, J. Ettie. Auckland, 1992