Pratt was born near Heywood, Victoria. Rachael Pratt was the ninth child of farmers William and Phoebe, both originally from England.
Always an independent spirit, Pratt decided, in 1909, to begin nursing
training at Ballarat Hospital. She lowered her age from 35 to 31.
She received her certificate of competency in August 1912 and just two months later was employed at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.
With the onset of the First World War, Rachael made the decision to serve
her country. Aged 41 at the time, she enlisted as a staff nurse in the AANS
in May 1915 and was posted to the 3rd Australian General Hospital; she
embarked for Britain aboard RMS Moolton.
Rachael was transferred to the Greek island of Lemnos,
where equipment was in short supply.
Pratt went on to work, for a short time, in Egypt, before being posted to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station (1ACCS) in France
In the early hours of 4 July 1915, 1ACCS was attacked from the air. Pratt was busy nursing a patient when the shrapnel from a bomb burst through the tent, puncturing her lung and tearing through her back and shoulder. Despite her injuries, she remained calm, and when the attack ended resumed treating her patients. Soon, however, the pain of her injuries and the loss of blood caught up with her, and she collapsed.
For “conspicuous gallantry displayed in the performance of her duties” Pratt was promoted to sister and was awarded the Military Medal.
After spending time in a hospital in England, Rachael returned to duty and nursed until the end of the war. In October 1918, she returned home to Melbourne
Rachael was discharged from the AIF in April 1919.
With shrapnel still in her lung, Rachael suffered from chronic bronchitis until her death on 23 March 1954, aged 79. She never married