Dame Maud McCarthy was one of the most highly decorated women’s leaders of the First World War.
The Matron-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from 1914 to 1919, McCarthy sailed on the first troop ship to leave England.
She arrived in France on 12 August 1914 and proved to be not only an inspiring and indefatigable leader, but also an undaunted and highly-skilled administrator.
She remained in charge for the entire war and became known as the nurses’ general, but what many do not know is that McCarthy was Australian.
“She was an outstanding woman of her time,” her great-niece Kate Sevier said.
“She took on enormous challenges under difficult conditions, and was an outstanding leader, a great role model and a pioneer in the field of nursing and military leadership.
“[She] dedicated her life to military nursing services.”
Kate Sevier first heard about her great-aunt when her mother, Nell McCarthy, read a passage from Martin Boyd’s Day of my delight. The book made reference to his mother’s cousin, Maud McCarthy, who had become a nurse and held the “highest administrative position in the 1914 war”.