Sister Katherine (Kate) Evelyn Luard
Kate was born in Averley Essex on the 29th June 1872, the daughter of the vicar and the tenth of thirteen children. Her childhood was spent at Aveley Vicarage and then Birch Rectory near Colchester. Between 1887 and 1890 she attended Croydon High School for Girls. Her headmistress and school founder, Dorinda Neligan, had been a nurse in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/1, as well as being a suffragette and campaigner for women’s rights. She may well have been the inspiration for Katherine’s desire to go into nursing.
On leaving school Kate took various jobs to earn money to train as a nurse. This she did at Kings College Hospital in London. In 1900 she served with the Army Nursing Service for two years in South Africa during the 2nd Boer War of 1899-1902. Following nursing work at home, on the 6th August 1914, aged 42, Kate enlisted in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. Kate served in France until 1918, firstly on ambulance trains then at Casualty Clearing Stations. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross and Bar, and was twice mentioned in dispatches for gallant and distinguished service in the field.
Her various letters to her family at home were published in two books: ‘Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914-15’, published anonymously in 1915, and ‘Unknown Warriors: The Letters of Kate Luard RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914-1918’ first published in 1930.
Kate never married and remained in nursing for the rest of her working life. She died on the 16th August 1962.
Researched by John Mills.
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