Sister Katherine ‘Kitty’ McArthur was the only woman from the old Shire of Karkarooc ‘known to have served in the war theatre in the First World War’ (Philip Taylor). Her name is recorded on the new war memorial in the main street of Turriff, on the site of the original Soldier’s Memorial Hall. Above her name are those of three of her brothers. Curiously, all of them have the initial ‘A’ for their Christian names: Alexander, Angus (George Angus) and Archibald (Archibald George).
Sister Katherine enlisted ‘for service abroad’ in April 1917, aged 29. Prior to this she spent time as a nurse at the Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, followed by service at No. 11 Australian General Hospital in Caulfield, again in Melbourne.
After enlisting at Caulfield, Kitty sailed for Europe to take up nursing duties with the Imperial Hospital in England. In July 1917 she moved to the 25th General Hospital in France, remaining there for the rest of war.
In March 1919 she returned to Australia on the City of Poona, receiving the British War Medal and the Victory Medal to mark her service. It is not known if she returned to nursing, but by 1922 she had married and moved to New South Wales. At her welcome home – a customary celebration in most Australian communities – the people of Turriff presented her with a silver tea service.
Kitty’s brothers Alexander and Angus died in the war. Alexander was wounded and became a prisoner of war, dying of his wounds in Germany shortly after his capture. Angus was killed in action on 16 April 1918 and buried at Hénencourt, near Albert in France.
The original Turriff Roll of Honour was probably moved soon after 2007, when the hall was removed. The new memorial was unveiled on the site in 2008.
Karkarook: A Mallee Shire History 1896–1995, Phil Taylor, Yarriambiack Shire Council, Warracknabeal, 1996.
Discussions with Phil Taylor, who in turn liaised with the McArthur and Carter families, resulted in his being given access to historian Don Carter’s notes and the data he had collected concerning the McArthur family.