Isla Victoria Murphy

17 July 1913
St Kilda, Victoria, Australia
4 January 1967
Toorak, Victoria, Australia
Army officer, Lawyer and Women's advocacy
Alternative Names
  • Wimpole, Isla Victoria (married name)

Isla Victoria Murphy was born on 17 July 1913 at St Kilda. After graduating as dux from the Presentation convent school, she attended the University of Melbourne. In 1933, Isla completed her Bachelor of Arts (Hons). She completed her Bachelor of Laws in 1934 and her Masters the following year. Isla was admitted to the Bar on 1 May 1936. She practised with her uncle's firm and was described as 'the best man in the office'. During this time, she also served on the Victorian committee of the St Joan's Social and Political Alliance, an international organization committed to an active role in society for lay Catholic women.

Isla joined the Australian Women's Army Service on 21 November 1941, where she attended the first A.W.A.S. officers' course and became captain. In 1943 she was promoted to major and appointed deputy assistant adjutant-general (women's services) at Land Headquarters. In September 1944 she became assistant adjutant-general (women's services) and was made temporary lieutenant colonel. Murphy assisted with the rehabilitation of servicewomen before transferring to the Reserve of Officers on 7 September 1946.

With the intention of resuming her legal career, she attended a refresher course at the University of Melbourne, where she met solicitor Horace Arthur Wimpole, who had also served in the Australian Imperial Force, and been a prisoner of war. They were married on 16 September 1947, and Isla did not recommence her practice. In 1957-60 Isla was vice-president of the Lyceum Club. She died on 4 January 1967.

Sources used to compile this entry: Adam-Smith, Patsy, Australian women at war, Nelson, Melbourne, 1984, 386 pp; Gillison, Joan M, A History of the Lyceum Club Melbourne, The Lyceum Club, Melbourne, 1975, 118 pp; Reid, Maree, 'Murphy, Isla Victoria (1913-1967)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,

Prepared by Nicola Silbert