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Audrey Abbie (née Simpson) 
Correspondence and personal memorabilia

MSS 0211


Audrey Katherine Allen Abbie (nee Simpson) was born in 1917, and was one of 6 children born to Alfred Allen Simpson and Janet Doris Hübbe.

Audrey was educated at two schools, the first run by her maternal grandmother, Edith Hübbe, who had been widowed in the Boer War. The two remained close until Mrs. Hübbe died in 1942. Her second school was Creveen, in North Adelaide, where she went from 1926 until 1934.

After a tour of Europe with her mother and sister in 1936, Audrey returned to Australia and resume her education, studying physiotherapy, eventually becoming a fully qualified masseuse, (then the term for physiotherapists). She started working at the Royal Adelaide Hospital at the start of the war, before enlisting in August of 1941.

She served for a total of 1678 days, of which 542 counted as “Overseas Qualifying Service.” Less than a month after enlisting she found herself on the “Wanganella” en route to Singapore, where she was attached to 2/13 Army General Hospital. Upon returning to Australia she had two years in Alice Springs, where the strangeness soon wore off, some months in Brisbane, and then took part in the liberation of Borneo. She was demobilized in 1946, and resumed her career as a physiotherapist.

In 1947 she sailed for London, where she studied at the Brompton and Harefield hospitals, where pioneering work was done in chest surgery. A big role for physiotherapists was to promote useful patterns of breathing, both before and after lung surgery, to avoid chest deformities. Audrey became adept at this, and when back in Adelaide, she joined D’Arcy Sutherland’s team at the Royal Adelaide hospital, and accompanied them twice to Papua New Guinea. As well, she had her private practice, and was much involved in the institutional side of her profession, for instance the founding of the Physiotherapy Society of South Australia, and was also associated with the Australian Physiotherapy Society for many years.

Another family interest Audrey involved herself in was the Travellers’ Aid Society. In the 1950s she took over from her Aunt Katie as the Unitarian Church’s delegate, eventually becoming president, a position she held until about 1984, and only resigned from the Society in 2005. She presided over the Society’s transition from a body that offered refuge to one that offers travellers assistance, as government gradually took over protection and accommodation.

In 1967 she married Professor Andrew Abbie, Elder Professor of Anatomy and Histology at the University of Adelaide. Their marriage was short lived, with Andrew dying in 1976.

Audrey continued to travel around the world in the years leading up to her death in 2014.

Adapted from the eulogy written by John Mayo.

Related Papers:

Resources and further information:


Series 1: Biographical and Family

1.1: Biographical

  • Audrey’s Girl Guides Patrol Roll and Subscription booklet, accompanied by separate booklet of official Girl Guides campfire songs and hymns
  • Note for Audrey regarding official medal sent to her to be worn in commemoration of Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee.

1.2: Certificates and Awards

  • Certificate of appointment to Lieutenant (housed in oversize)
  • Diploma in Massage, Medical Electricity and Medical Gymnastics (1940) (housed in oversize)
  • Aust. Military forces Certificate of Service of an officer. Lieutenant Audrey Katherine Allen Simpson. 2/4 Australian General Hospital in the Australian Army
  • Medical Women’s Service from 22nd Aug 1941 to 20th Feb 1946.
  • Australian Military Forces certificate of studies by correspondence. Interior Decoration (25 March 1946)
  • Life member of the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. (1949)
  • Australian Physiotherapy Association Certificate of Membership (1955)
  • Certificate of Membership – Australian Red Cross Benefactors Club
  • Honorary Life Membership to the Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide Inc.
  • 50 year membership - Royal Geographical Society of South Australia.

1.3: Family

  • Folder containing:
    • article about the death of Alfred Moxon Simpson from ‘The Australian’ 2002.
    • Funeral service booklet for Jean Bethune Loudan Cook (1991)
  • 2 handwritten notebooks belonging to Harriet Marjorie Caw (formerly Hübbe) – Audrey’s Aunt.
  • Incomplete yearbook, contains several pages on notes regarding family history.
  • Box of Simpson family Christmas cards. 1921-1938 (years 1923-1925 not included)
  • Sermon delivered by Rev. J. Crawford Woods, B.A. on Mrs. Macnee. Adelaide April 24th 1887.
  • Publication: ‘Australia’s Place in the World Affairs’ 1952 Lecture Series. Includes an article written by A. Moxon Simpson. “Australia and International Trade

  • Folder containing Family history related to several branches of the family. Includes: 
    • Letter addressed to Miss Cook (15 December 1981) and copies of handwritten notes for the Biographical index of South Australians. 1836-1885 on the Hübbe, Cook, Macnee, Herford, Wright and Clarke families, collated by Mary Hutchinson.23p. 
    • 2 Family trees. pencil ms. 2p.
    • Handwritten notes on Macnee, Dixon and Dowell families. 4p.
    • Handwritten notes on Dowell and Moxon families. 4p (blue paper)
    • Brief handwritten notes on Dowell and Moxon families. 2p.
    • Brief handwritten notes by Katherine Cook on family history. 2p. 
    • Misc notes on family history. 2p.  

Series 2: Correspondence

All of the correspondence in Series 2.1 was professionally transcribed prior to donation. Electronic copies are available upon request.

Lists of correspondents being complied. Listing will be updated once completed.

2.1. 9 boxes of correspondence,
Correspondence split into “batches”. Each batch can include correspondence dated from 1890-1995. Batches A-S are primarily correspondence to Audrey Simpson, with some additional letters to other family members including Audrey’s mother, Janet Doris Simpson.

2.2. 1 box of correspondence to Alfred Moxon Simpson from various correspondents.
List of correspondents being compiled, listing will be updated once complete.

2.3. Folder of correspondence that was not transcribed, some incomplete or illegible.

Series 3: Personal Papers

3.1. Writing and exercise books

  • Black notebook of short stories and draft letters. Some loose leaf pages including photographs of the Allen premises on Hindley Street, a paper cut design.
  • Travel journal ‘Bombay to London by bus’ dated 1960.
  • Exercise book dated 1930. Class IV A. ‘Scribbles’ 9p. Loose
  • Red marble bound book titled ‘A. Simpson. Essays’ 167p.
  • Black notebook ‘Leaving Physiology Practical Book.’ Undated
  • Premier exercise book ‘A. Simpson. Extracts’ 1932.
  • 2 coverless notebooks of notes and scribbles.
  • Small incomplete diary with navy blue cover. Undated, entries related to one of Audrey’s overseas visit.

3.2 Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

  • Letters and documentation regarding donations given by Audrey to various projects and sponsorships at the Adelaide Botoanic Gardens
  • Book of notes taken by Audrey regarding the Adelaide Botanic Gardens (entries dated from 1983 to 1997)

3.2: Other

  • Folder of material related to the Unitarian Church. Includes transcripts of interviews with church members done by Audrey in 1985.
  • 3 pages of hand painted illustrations signed by ‘Janet’ 19/20.
  • Folder of notes and letters regarding the Abbie Simpson Clinical Fellowship and the Abbie Memorial lecture. Also includes a copy of an article written by Andrew Arthur Abbie published in ‘Mankind’ 1949.

Series 4: World War 2

109 Australian General Hospital

4.1. Personal 

  • 3 small personal notebooks containing quotes, lists, and brief notes (possibly of servicemen seen by Audrey in her role as a masseuse). Dated 1942, 1944 and 1 undated.
  • Envelope addressed to Audrey containing:
    • Australian Military Forces, Final statement of account of pay received by Discharged Member (1946)
    • Entitlement to War gratuity
  • Envelope addressed to Audrey containing:
    • Publication: Despatch regarding War Debts (1922)
    • Publication: Mr. Lansing’s address to American Soldiers. (1917)

4.2. Women’s Voluntary Services

Small folder of material related to the W.V.S. Audrey’s cousin Alice Elaine Scott OBE (“Snowy”) was very involved in the organisation. Includes:

  • Broadcast on Under Fives. Typescript. 1 p.
  • 2 Newspaper clipping on Under Fives
    • “These “Under Fives” are Evacuees” (1940)
    • “Under escort” (1943?)
  • Photograph of a children in a bus. Bus has signs stating “W.V.S” and “Presented by Mrs. Fenno, Rowley, Masschusetts. U.S.A.”
  • Several small publications produced by the W.V.S
    • Midsummer Bulletin 1938-1943. (published 1943)
    • A Healthy Child is a Happy Child: Leaflet for the guidance of house-holders who would be receiving young children in the event of evacuation. (undated)
    • W.V.S. Bulletin, January 1943
    • A.B.C. of Under Fives. (1943)

4.3. Wartime Photographs

  • Collection of photographs from the 109 Australian General Hospital posting in Alice Springs.
  • Official group photographs. Some persons identified. 7p.
  • Personal photographs, possibly taken by Audrey of the military posting and surrounds 17p.
  • 1 envelope of photographs labelled “MV Empire Star” (rehoused). 6p.
  • 1 envelope of photographs labelled “2/4 AGH Queensland” (rehoused) 10p.
  • 1 box of photographs labelled “images from 1943 when AKAS was at Alice Springs” (rehoused) 18p. 
  • 1 metal box of photographs labelled "Alice Springs" Appear to be duplicates of above.  

4.4. Realia

  • Audrey’s military uniform
  • 2 small boxes of military insignias, pins and patches
  • ID tags
  • 3 Union Jack flags.
  • Casual clothes. 1 dress patterns with cocktails, 1 purse.  
  • Small drinking flask. Green leather and steel outside, glass inner. Engraved with “S.F.X. 14162. Lieut. A.K.A. Simpson.” Glass damaged.  
  • 2 fly swatters. Possibly made with horse hair

4.5: Maps

Maps of the pacific, Europe and North Territory published during Audrey’s years of service.

  • 3 Malay
    • 1941
    • 1941
    • undated
  • Alice Springs
    • 1941
  • Queensland
    • Undated
  • War Map of Europe
    • (1914-1918)
  • 3 Papua New Guinea
    • 1933
    • Undated
    • Gazelle Peninsula - 1944
  • 2 Pacific
    • 1936 (2 halves of same map)

Series 5: Photographs

Photographs, primarily of the Simpson Family and relations, includes some images of the family estate Undelcarra.

5.1. Albums of family photographs. (2 albums)

Includes photographs of:

  • Album 1: Audrey Katherine Abbie Simson at various ages, including studio portraits of her coming out celebrations and wedding.
    For photographs of Audrey during WW2, see Series 4.3
  • Album 2: Family photographs and studio portraits of the Simpson family, mostly as children including Audrey, her siblings Alfred Moxon, Robert Allen, Edith Janet, Derek Frederick and Donald Adrian, as well as their parents, Janet Doris and Alfred Allen.  
  • Undelcarra house and grounds. 

5.2. Albums of extended family photographs. (2 albums)

Includes photographs of extended family members and friends including:

  • Album 1:Cook, Caw, Hübbe,
  • Album 2: Other family and friends. Bathurst, and Crompton family members (includes Harriet Marjorie Caw, Hugh and Lloyd Bathurst, J. Crompton (Joseph?), Phyllis Crompton and others), Catherine Welch, Mayo Family, 

See also: Edith Hübbe (Cook) and Marjorie Caw (Hübbe) Papers 1859-1988. Series 63

5.3. Album of unidentified photographs. Includes travel photographs.

  • Primarily photographs from various tours, mostly undated and lacking captions or description.  
  • Also includes portraits and photographs of unidentified individuals, potentially extended family members. 

5.4. Oversize and unsorted photographs


Box 1:

  • Oversize photographs of Audrey and family, including some studio/professional portraits
  • Framed photographs
  • Unsorted photographs of Simpson family, Undelcarra, and vacations/travel (still housed in original photo wallets 
  • 1 daguerreotype (colour tinted) of Hübbe family members in velvet lined box
  • 1 album of photographs, possibly owned by Rica Hübbe of Hübbe family properties in South Australia and Western Australia 

Box 2:

  • Official presentation studio portraits of Edith Janet Allen Simpson and Audrey Katherine Allen Simpson.

Listed by Marie Larsen
May 2020

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