Kathleen Barnes MBE

1925 Collegian | Deceased 1981

Kathleen Barnes MBE: right

Nurse Kathleen Hope Barnes' calling took her from the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of New Guinea.

Her skills in what must have often been grim and demanding conditions earned her awards and accolades.

After leaving school Kathleen began her nursing training at the Children's Hospital in 1928 and gained experience in private and country hospital nursing.

When war was declared in 1939, Kathleen joined the Australian Army Nursing Service.

She was posted to the 2/2nd Australian General Hospital as a staff nurse and embarked for the Middle East in 1940, where she served at Gaza Ridge and Nazareth, Palestine, doing duty with a Bristish Hospital. She rejoined the 2/2nd in Egypt and nursed casualties from Greece, Crete and North Africa.

After a few months with the 2/4th Field Ambulance at Tripolia, Syria, Kathleen returned to Australia. In October 1942 she was sent to Port Moresby, rising through the ranks to Captain in August 1943.

In February 1945 she was among the first white women to return to New Britain following the Japanese invasion in 1942, where she was put in charge of the nurses staffing an Australian casualty clearing station at Jacquinot Bay.

Back in Australia, Kathleen worked at the 110th Military Hospital, Perth. In 1947 she was awarded the Associate of the Royal Red Cross for her "outstanding devotion to duty and solicitude for soldiers." She was also mentioned in despatches for gallant action in the face of the enemy.

Shortly after being demobilised Kathleen worked as a district nurse in the Midland area for the Silver Chain District and Bush Nursing Association. Her outstanding ability was soon noted and in 1950 she became supervisor of the Alfred Carson Hosptial and Cottage Homes. In 1955 she was appointed metropolitan nursing superintendent.

From 1958 until her death she was treasurer of the War Nurses' Memorial Association.

In 1963 she was appointed an MBE for her "outstanding and meritoirous service in the nursing profession, both in wartime and in peace" and was made a fellow of the College of Nursing, Australia. She resigned from her position with Silver Chain in 1965.

Before her death in 1981 Kathleen was involved in establishing the War Nurses' Gallery in the Army Museum of Western Australia.