Helen Glenmire ("Glennie") Davidson (1923-1951)


Line of Descent

Helen Glenmire Davidson

William  Davidson

John Davidson

David Johnstone Davidson

James Henry Davidson

Helen Glenmire Davidson

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Davidson Family Tree


22 February, 1923, Glen Innes, NSW

Marriage:  to Geoffrey Alfred Boddy, 7 June, 1947, Glen Innes Presbyterian Church, NSW
Death:  11 April, 1951, Newcastle Infectious Diseases Hospital, NSW
Father:   James Henry ("Harry") Davidson
Mother:  Isabella Jane ("Jennie") Martin

Children: son (1948 - )
Allan Geoffrey (1949 - 1953)

Linwood school near Glen Innes, attended by the Davidson children in the 1930s.


By the time Helen was born in the New England town of Glen Innes in 1923, her parents James and Isabella Davidson (known as Harry and Jenny) already had three sons.  The four children, with the addition of second sister Jean, probably had a close relationship, with only four and a half years between all five children (a sixth child came along more than five years later).

Their farm at Lambs Valley, known as Coonil, which Harry leased, was only 10 kilometres or so from the Glen Innes township, but Glennie, as she was known from her middle name, first went to the small Linwood public school before going to High School in Glen Innes. This would have involved riding on horseback, or more likely the group was carried on a horse and sulky, possibly driven by one of the boys when they were old enough.

above: Glen Innes Public School

right: Glennie's first year of high school at Glen Innes.  She is second from the left, in the second top row.


In 1937, the family's life charnged radically, and probably unexpectedly.  Her father's uncle, Alfred Davidson, who had been a  blacksmith on Western Australia's gold fields, died in Perth.  With no children of his own, Alfred left numerous bequests to his family back in New South Wales - the key one being, in addition to a one thousand pound gratituity, he left all of the residual property, after other bequests, to Helen's father.  This good fortune enabled Harry to buy  Wattle Farm, a property of 365 acres (150 hectares) at Red Range, just a little further out from Glen Innes, and for the whole family to move into a farmhouse which would have been more than comfortable for that time.

left: Glennie, ready for tennis on the court the family built at Wattle Farm.

Glennie completed her Intermediate certificate at Glen Innes High school,  and then worked as a housemaid until she was old enough to start training to be a nurse (right).  The frequent handwashing required for nurses took its toll on the skin on her hands (she may have been allergic to some chemical) and she had to give up the nursing ambition, just as the Second World War, which was to prove so crucial in her life, was underway in Europe. On her enlistment papers for the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) as a 19 year old in 1942 she said she had 10 months experience as trainee nurse in a public hospital (presumably Glen Innes public hospital), and three months in a private hospital, otherwise she was occupied with "home duties" which would have covered a multitude of tasks around the new  farm as well as working as a housemaid.

Her nursing experience, limited though it was, meant she was first assigned to duty as a "nursing orderley" at the RAAF hospital at Bradfield Park, (now Lindfield) in Sydney's north, but within eight months, she was reassigned as a signals clerk and sent to Townsville, in far north Queensland. 

Her service record shows that one of her superiors described Glennie as "A good responsible type, quiet spoken, neat and clean". Another wrote: "Anatomy, physiology, medical nursing good. Good type.  Keen, suitable S.Q.A". (According to the Australian War Memorial website, SQA means 'Sick Quarter Attendant').  At one point in the war, Glennie and three of her servicemen brothers were able to reunite in Townsville (below).

Sometime in her war service years, Glennie met Geoff Boddy, from Newcastle. Geoff had two daughters, was divorced and at the time, aged in his early to mid thirties. He had enlisted in the Army, and spent most of the war driving trucks and supplies, so where and when they met can only be speculation. 

 In 1947,  Geoff and Glennie married in Glen Innes Presbyterian Church.  They then set out on a driving honeymoon through northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.

above: Helen on her wedding day
right: and with her father after the ceremony

above: Ready to set out on their honeymoon - note Glennie's bike strapped to the back of the car.



Geoff took Glennie back to his home at Fennell Bay, a house he had helped his father Alf build at Lake Macquarie south of Newcastle.  By this time, Geoff was working for the NSW Railways, as a locomotive fireman, one of the steps towards his aim of becoming a engine driver.  He and Glennie started their family with the births, in 1948 and 1949, of two sons.

Life would have been pleasant enough at Fennell Bay - photographs which have survived show Glennie enjoying the nearby waters of Lake Macquarie and relaxing with her husband and  father-in-law and her babies. 

left: Helen and Geoff with one of their newborn sons outside their Fennell Bay house..

But that peaceful life wasn't to last.  A vicious polio epidemic was raging around Australia in the Fifties.  1951 was the peak year for deaths from this insidious disease, and in February, 1951, Glennie, while pregnant with her third child, contracted the virus, dying in Newcastle's Infectious Diseases Hospital at Waratah in April, when her younger son Allan was only 20 months old. (Allan himself died only two years later, of that killer childhood disease, leukemia).