WW1 Catherine Amelia Williams

Catherine Amelia Williams and soldiers

Catherine Amelia Williams was born on 28 August 1885 in Auckland, and her name appears on the memorial gates of Remuera Primary School.

Her parents, James and Amelia Williams lived at 107 (was 77) Orakei Road, Remuera, where her father was a stonemason and member of the Remuera Roads Board and Auckland City Council. Catherine trained as a nurse in Auckland in 1915 to 1918. Her medical notes describe her as being 5 foot 3 inches tall with brown hair, hazel eyes and of a fair complexion.

Her brother William Henry Williams who lived in Russell (now Benson) Road, Remuera, was killed in action at Ypres in the Battle for Passchendaele  in Belgium on 12 October 1917, leading Catherine to enlist in the NZ Army Nursing Service (22/513). She was posted as a Staff Nurse/Masseuse on the Marama, HM Hospital Ship No. 2, on its 6th voyage from NZ, departing from Wellington on 1 June 1918, returning on 27 September 1918 and again on the 7th voyage, departing Wellington in October 1918 and returning in January 1919.

The masseuses, who were the forerunner of modern physiotherapists, performed valuable work in aiding the recovery and restoration of the men to normal life. The Massage Corps was a branch of the Army Nursing Service, which was established when the need for such treatment was demonstrated. There were thirty-one masseuses among the 579 members of the Nursing Service.

In 1919 Catherine was posted to the Taumaru convalescent home for soldiers at Lowry Bay in Wellington until 1 February 1920. She later qualified as a midwife in 1926. Her medals included the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Catherine died in 1960 aged 74.