Mysterious World War One relic found in Biloela shed

Kilburnie Homestead is a fascinating place: the property near Biloela is a National Trust-listed historic site, a working cattle station, a museum, and a venue for arts and music events.

Current owner and custodian of the property’s long family history Fiona Heyward found something unexpected while exploring the storage shed, which houses ancestral treasures from two branches of the family.

Beryl Campbell’s mysterious suitcase. Photo courtesy  Kilburnie Homestead on Facebook.

Beryl Campbell’s mysterious suitcase. Photo courtesy Kilburnie Homestead on Facebook.

It’s a World War One-era surgical supplies box, which would have originally held essential medical supplies like bandages, soap and sutures to treat soldiers wounded in battle. Enough of the original markings are visible to show this box originally belonged to the Number Three Canadian General Hospital, which was set up near Boulogne-Sur-Mer in France.

It was brought home by Beryl Campbell, Fiona’s ancestor… who didn’t work at that hospital, or even serve in France.

A Matron with the Australian Army Nursing Service, Beryl was stationed first in Cairo, Egypt, and later in Salonica, Greece.

Fiona’s theory is that Beryl acquired the box after the war ended, and used it as a “spare suitcase” in her travels.

Writing on Kilburnie’s Facebook page, Fiona explained No.3 CGH was a very famous military hospital with its own claims to fame.

“The author of iconic WWI poem In Flanders Fields, Lt.Col.JohnMcCrae, was at one point in command of No.3 CGH,” Fiona says.

“I wonder if he ever opened the box we now find here at Kilburnie, 101 years after his death in 1918?

“Did he and Beryl ever meet one another?”

Open Arms Veterans & Families Counselling Service (formerly VVCS) provides free, confidential counselling and support for current and former ADF members and their families. You can call them 24/7 on 1800 011 046 or visit their website.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs provides immediate help and treatment for any veteran with a mental health condition, whether it relates to service or not. To find out more or seek help for yourself or someone you know, call Open Arms on 1800 011 046 or DVA on 1800 555 254, or visit the DVA website.