In May 1915 Anne was one of the first nurses from South Australia to offer to work as a nursing sister for the Australian Army Nursing Services, accepted into the new unit No. 3 Australian General Hospital. A dedicated nurse, of 39 years of age when she left Australia from the docks of Fremantle on the SS Mooltan, Anne felt terribly lonely and strange.
Anne travelled extensively with her nursing work to Colombo, Bombay, Marseilles, England, Lemnos, Alexandria, Cairo, Calais, and London before returning to Australia.
Whilst in England, King George V awarded Anne the British Campaign and Service Medals, and the British Victory Medal. Anne returned to the shores of her beloved Australia on February 28th 1919.
Anne became the Matron-in-Charge of the Anzac Hostel in Glenelg, Adelaide, a home and hostel for disabled veterans and homeless ANZACS.
Anne resigned from Glenelg Anzac Hostel to accompany Mr LW Walker, a disabled ex-serviceman on a trip to Colombo as his companion/nurse. He had been given the trip by the Adelaide Red Cross. Anne helped to stretcher him on and off the ship.
Anne travelled with two other South Australian nurses to train in New Zealand to work under the tutelage of Dr Truby King, the NZ Director of Child Welfare who specialised in mothercraft work, and in particular in infant nutrition. These nurses were keen to bring his new ideas to Australia.
Anne Donnell is recorded as relieving Sister Dorothea Beaumont at the Mothercraft Home on Dutton Terrace in the Adelaide suburb of Medindie.
After Mr Walker passed away, Anne moved to Western Australia to run the Goldfields Infant Welfare Centre in Kalgoorlie.
Still at the Goldfields Infant Welfare Centre, Anne became guardian and adopted a baby girl Yvonne Suzanne Annear who she raised as her own. She had moved to 72 Ward Street. In August 1939 Anne returned to South Australia with a now toddler, Yvonne.
In her mid 60’s during WWII Anne did voluntary work for the Australian Red Cross.
In 1954 Anne decided after a lifetime of service to humanity to retire and lived at 24 James Street, North Perth. Anne was quite poor, and with no family around to look after her, a dear Red Cross friend took Anne into her home at North Beach in Perth where she lived in a small flat under the house. Sadly, Anne Donnell passed away alone in Perth on 23 September 1956 at aged 80. After dedicating her life to nursing and caring for others it is a tragedy this quiet humble hero was totally unknown.
Anne is now buried and resting peacefully at the Karrakatta Cemetery Crematorium, Rose Garden (site S, position 1), in the Perth suburb of Nedlands.