Catherine McManus ADAWAY

ADAWAY, Catherine McManus

Service Number: Staff Nurse
Enlisted: 8 October 1915, Sydney, NSW
Last Rank: Staff Nurse
Last Unit: 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF
Born: Quirindi, NSW, 1883
Home Town: Quirindi, Liverpool Plains, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Nurse
Died: Colma, California, USA, 19 April 1921, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Colma, California
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World War 1 Service

8 Oct 1915: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, SN Staff Nurse, Australian Army Nursing Service, Sydney, NSW
10 Nov 1915: Involvement 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF
10 Nov 1915: Embarked 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF, HMAT Orsova, Sydney
18 Mar 1918: Discharged Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, 2nd Australian General Hospital: AIF

Life after the War

Obtaining discharge from the AIF 18 March 1918 then went to America to nurse in various hospitals - Vancouver (Military Hospital nursing patients from the US Army), Seattle, Portland (Oregon) Chicago and New York. Returned to California where she took up private engagements.
Died 19 April 1921
Buried Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Colma, California

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Catherine McManus Adaway was born in Quirindi, New South Wales, in 1883. She was one of many children born to Mr. Thomas Adaway and his wife, Mrs. Mary Ann (née McManus) Adaway. Thomas was of Quirindi himself, and Mary, of Glennie’s creek in Singleton, New South Wales. Thomas was of British descent, as could be surmised through his surname. Mary was probably of Celtic origin, considering her daughter Catherine’s traits (red hair, gray eyes, pale complexion), archetypal surname and family crest. It is more plausible to consider that she was of Irish descent, considering that Catholicism was her religious denomination.

No information was found regarding Catherine’s adolescent years.

Catherine was 32 when she enlisted for the Australian Army Nursing Service (abbr. A.A.N.S). Lack of experience certainly didn’t help, but she was single and of a relatively young age. This enabled an easy entry into the service. She was appointed a Staff Nurse to the No. 2 Australian General Hospital, as part of the Special Reinforcements on 21st October 1915.

Catherine embarked on the H.M.A.T Orsova (A67), which left Sydney Harbour on the 10th of November. Her name was mentioned in the Nominal Roll for the no.2 Australian General Hospital.

The ship arrived in Egypt around a month later. Initially, Catherine was to commence her service at the Mena House in Cairo, however, the casualties that poured in from the Gallipoli campaign were increasing by the day. In desperation, the Ghezireh Palace was turned into a hospital, and Nurses were directed there. Catherine was among those who served in Ghezireh.

The Gallipoli campaign ended in January 1916. The remainder of troops assembled and progressed onwards to the Western Front, where the nursing staff followed. Catherine embarked upon the hospital ship, HMHS Braemar Castle. It left Alexandria, sailing across the dangerous Mediterranean waters, before landing at the port of Marseilles, France. From here, Catherine journeyed through France, before reaching her destination; Boulogne-sur-Mer.

The regions of Normandie, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie were the main locations for the Australian and British army hospitals, facilities and casualty clearing stations. The no. 1 Australian General hospital was based in Rouen. Other smaller hospitals were centered around the towns of Amiens, Corbie, and Boulogne-sur-Mer. The Nurses were not far from the front line themselves. In her time there, Catherine worked in many casualty stations located in Wimereux, Dannes and Camiers, each within a 16-mile radius of Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Conditions in hospitals were substandard. With the war’s devastating impact, one could hardly pay attention to hygiene. It was a growing challenge, considering the numbers of casualties and lack of disinfectants. Inoculations were constantly held at hospitals. Nurses were vulnerable to many life-threatening infections, conditions, and diseases due to their exposure to patients. It was after the typhoid inoculation that Catherine contracted early symptoms of Pleurisy, a condition which involves tissues lining the lungs becoming inflamed.

After many weeks, Catherine showed minimal signs of recovery. Papers and letters were exchanged.
Meanwhile, Catherine was transferred to the no.3 Australian General Hospital at Dartford, England. Here she was tended to for a brief period. Authentication was given by the Australian Imperial Force. Catherine was to return to Australia per the H.M.A.T Ulysses A38, on 16th November 1917.

The war was like a film that had come to life. After seeing so much reality, life in Australia would have been quite ordinary for Catherine. She never recovered fully. She nursed at the Liverpool Camp in New South Wales for a short period, before proceeding to North America, where she nursed patients from the U.S. Army. Working her way around hospitals in Vancouver, Oregon, and Seattle, Catherine applied for her pension and ribbons, all earned from the Great War. Eventually, she settled down in California, where she took up private engagements. This was before her death on 19th April 1921 (approx. aged 38).
Catherine’s life encourages the ANZAC spirit in many aspects. Being the only child from her family to enlist for service in the war meant that she was brave, dedicated and committed to her country. We can also assume that she was an outgoing and adventurous person. She wanted to see the world.

Catherine served in the war until she fell ill. This shows us her passion for her country. She never stopped because she was afraid. She never gave up. Thank you, Catherine, for what you did. The privileges we have in our world today is at the cost of many lives like yours.