HUGHES, Catherine Josephine

NAME: Catherine Josephine HUGHES             





UNIT: Australian Army Nursing Service

EMBARKED: 12 June 1917


FATE: Returned to Australia – 18 April 1919

Catherine Hughes was born at Dunkeld in 1883, a daughter of William Hughes and Ann Branston.  William was a stationmaster and the family moved around Victoria for his work. They spent time in Ararat, Wodonga and Melbourne. Her parents finally settled at Elsternwick.

Catherine took up nursing at thirty-one at the Hamilton Hospital in 1914. She passed her exams in December 1916. The following year she followed other nurses from the hospital and enlisted with the Australian Army Nursing Service.

In June 1917, was preparing to leave for Salonika, Greece.  She is among the nurses photographed below in Adelaide before their departure.  With her were Margaret Delahenty, Norma Scott, and Edith Malcolm, also from Hamilton Hospital.

Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

They left Australia on 12 June 1917 on RMS Mooltan (below). They went first to Alexandria then on to Salonkia, arriving on 19 July 1917.

ONBOARD THE RMS MOOLTAN. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Once at Salonika, the nurses were dispersed to British and Canadian hospitals  There was some disappointment among the nurses who enlisted to nurse Australian men who instead found themselves nursing British soldiers. Catherine was with the 42nd, 43rd and 52nd General Hospitals during her time there.

She also spent some time at the British Red Cross rest home, and was there when the photo below was taken on 17 June 1918.


NURSES AT THE BRITISH RED CROSS REST HOME, SALONIKA. 17 JUNE 1918. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

Catherine returned to Australia on 19 April 1918. After her discharge, she worked at the Bendigo Hospital.

Bendigo hospital

BENDIGO HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

In June 1922, she leased Sister Browne’s private hospital at Wodonga. By the 1930s, due to their being no official baby health services in Wodonga, Catherine assisted nursing women and their babies in a “honourary capacity”.

In Catherine’s spare time she enjoyed tennis and golf and she was on the committee of both clubs in Wodonga.  In 1933, she was presented with a golf club for “ recognition of her untiring zeal end energy in the interest of game and the club”.

In 1934, Catherine announced she was leaving Wodonga. She was given a large send off at the Wodonga Masonic Hall on 4 August prior to her departure, thought to be Sydney.  However, Catherine wasn’t away long, By 1935, she was back in Wodonga and busy in the community. In July 1935, she was the Matron of Honour at the Convent Carnival Ball.

Catherine became a well-respected member of the Wodonga community. She became involved with local emergency management and during WW2, a member of the local Air Raid Precautions (ARP) group. Catherine set up a Casualty Clearance Station at the Wodonga Soldiers Rest Rooms in 1942. It was shown to Mr Woodward from ARP headquarters during a visit to Wodonga and he remarked there was nothing like it outside of Melbourne.

Catherine operated her hospital until 1945. She continued playing golf in her retirement. By the 1950s, Catherine was living in Sydney and died there in 1972 at the age of eighty-eight.


Australian War Memorial – WW1 Embarkation Roll – Catherine Josephine Hughes

Discovering Anzacs – WW1 Service Record – Catherine Josephine Hughes

Newspaper Articles from Trove – Catherine Josephine Hughes

The AIF Project – Catherine Josephine Hughes