Joanne Ryan MP
Federal Member for Lalor
Joanne Ryan MP

Centenary of ANZAC memorial unveiling-Little River Historical Society

I want to congratulate the Little River Historical Society for their successful delivery of a wonderful memorial to First World War nurses.

This Centenary of ANZAC grant of over $50,000 has resulted in a memorial to two First World War local nurses, Sister Catherine (Kit) McNaughton and Sister Sarah (Sadie) McIntosh.

These strong women were cousins, both born and raised in Little River. The memorial honours their role and the contribution made by local serving women during the Great War. The unveiling on Friday July 17th 2015 coincides with the centenary of the departure of Sister McNaughton from Station Pier in Port Melbourne to her war time duties on 17 July 1915.

Kit McNaughton's service was mentioned in dispatches by Winston Churchill. After the war, she was awarded the Royal Red Cross First Class, a British award presented by the then Prince of Wales—who became King Edward VII—on his visit to Australia in 1920.

Kit McNaughton's story was shared with the broader Australian public the ABC documentary series, The War That Changed Us.

On behalf of my community, I would like to thank Dr Janet Butler for her curiosity about the nurses from our region and her pursuit of family history for her research.

Through that research, she found the diaries written by Kit during her war service and kept by her family to write Kitty's War: The Remarkable Wartime Experiences of Kit McNaughton, published in 2013.

Janet was awarded the New South Wales Premier's History Award for 2013 for this work.

From the diaries of Kit McNaughton, Janet traced many of the nurses who served with her and heard their stories. Through letters and diaries and stories, Janet was able to trace not just their service but their relationships and their lives after the war. Janet's work has informed the ABC documentary. I also acknowledge the work of Clare Wright, our most recent recipient of the Stella Award, for her work on the documentary.

I, of course have a special connection to this memorial, as Kit McNaughton was my grandmother. The family is pleased Kit’s story is now widely known. We need for more stories like Kit’s to be highlighted. I would like to note this application for a Centenary of ANZAC grant was made prior to becoming the Member for Lalor!

My family look forward to Kit and Sadie having a permanent memorial in the town they grew up in, and in the region they returned to, where Kit married and raised her family.


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