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Catherine Tully

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Catherine Tully was awarded the Royal Red Cross (First Class) and the 1914 Star (Mons Ribbon), for outstanding devotion to duty, compassion and exceptional acts of bravery. She was one of only 20 nurses awarded the 1914 star. Kitty Tully wrote the following letter in 1915 describing the act of bravery that she and other nurses experienced when they were trapped in Antwerp with 130 wounded soldiers all of them under fire from the enemy and in great danger:

We arranged, if a bombardment began to remove our wounded into the cellars - three dirty little caves under our kitchen. At midnight on Wednesday the bombardment began. We were roused by a rushing, fluttering sound through the air that seemed to go burr-bump. One shot came into the house next to us and ripped the roof clear off. The house on the other side caught fire. Another shot made a hole 6 feet deep near the main door of our hospital. Another fell in the road just outside; another 10 yards beyond...Slight frail nurses carried heavy men on their shoulders - the men's arms around their necks. Shells were bursting all round but never once did I see anyone taking the slightest notice of them. The nurses coolness was marvellous. In half an hour all our 130 patients were packed in the cellars.[1]

In addition to their courageous act in saving their patients these nurses were the last to leave Antwerp as it burned under fire from the Germans. Their escape was described by one of the nurses:

We were the last women to leave Antwerp, she said,' and we had a Belgian officer on the back step of our bus all the way to Ostead', directing the driver. 'I shall never forget that journey. All along the way whenever we were stopped, 'Belges blesse' (wounded) cleared the road for us, and we got through'...Here are the names of the nurses: Sister Bailey, Nurse Kennedy, Nurse Thompson, Nurse Clifton, Nurse Willis, Nurse Wilson, Nurse Lund, Nurse Tully, Nurse Trestraill, Nurse Finch, and Nurse Gregson.[2]

Nurse training and war service[edit]

Catherine 'Kitty' Tully trained at Goulburn District Hospital September 1900 to September 1904. She registered with the Australasian Trained Nurses Association (ATNA) in 1906. Before her war service Kitty had worked as Matron at Raleigh District Hospital, Bellingen from 1906 to 1907, and was Head Nurse at Tumut Cottage Hospital from 1907 to 1908. She was the Matron at Macleay District Hospital until 1913 when she resigned to travel to England.

Kitty was in London when war broke out in August 1914 and she joined the British Nursing Corp, later the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, (QAIMNS). She served in Belgium, Egypt, East Africa and France ad was posted to several English Military hospital until she was repatriated back to Australia in late 1919. Although Kitty believed that she was serving in the QAIMNS as an Australian nurse after the war she found that neither the British nor the Australian defence department would recognise her and she was left with a severe injury leading to the loss of a finger.[3]

Kitty Tully was awarded the Royal Red Cross (First Class) for her outstanding devotion to nursing duty. She was one of only 20 nurses awarded the 1914 Star, (sometimes referred to as the Mons Ribbon0, the star was a clasp warded in 1919. After returning to Australis Kitty worked as a Matron until 1924 when she returned to her home district in the Central West of NSW. Kitty was at Junee when she was welcomed into the sub-branch of the Returned Sailor's Soldier's Airmen's Imperial League of Australia. She died in 1957.[4]


  1. "Nurses Under Fire at Antwerp". Macleay Argus. 1915-02-05. Retrieved 2023-07-24.
  2. "Heroic Nurses". Burrowa News. 1915-01-22. p. 3. Retrieved 2023-07-25.
  3. Tully, Catherine. "National Archives KEW". National Archives Kew. Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  4. "JUNEE R.S.S.A.I.L.A. HAS NEW MEMBER". Cootamundra Herald. 1941-09-08. Retrieved 2023-07-25.

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