A leading nurse in World War One: Dame Maud McCarthy

Linda Shields, Deborah Magee

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Dame Maud McCarthy was born in Sydney, Australia in 1859, the first child in a large, wealthy family. In 1889 she travelled to London, where, giving her age as a year younger than she really was, she entered the probationer’s programme at The London Hospital and trained as a nurse. She joined the military nursing establishment and served in the South African War and then as matron of several military hospitals in the United Kingdom. With the outbreak of World War One, she was made Matron-in-Chief, France and Flanders, in which position she was in charge of all the nurses from British Empire countries and the United States of America. McCarthy introduced innovations such as anaesthetic nurses, and was one of the first to recognise what was known as “shell shock”. She facilitated special nursing for men suffering from this. After the war, she became Matron-in-Chief of the Territorial Army Nursing Service. McCarthy was awarded many honours, and was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1918. She died in 1949 and was buried in London. Her influence on nursing as a profession was profound.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalWorking Papers in the Health Sciences
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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