Adela Catherine Letitia ANDERSON (known as Catherine) was born on September 18, 1864 in Bloomsbury, Middlesex1. She was trained at the Children’s Hospital, Nottingham, and served for a considerable time as staff nurse’ at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital2. She joined the Army Nursing Service on April 20, 18913, served at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley2, and was serving at the Military Hospital Rochester Row, at the start of the Boer War4, 5.

Nursing Service in the Boer War

Sister Anderson went South Africa in the Braemar Castle, as one of the first group of nurses to go5. She served in the Boer War at No. 1 General Hospital, Wynberg6; No. 4 General Hospital, Mooi River; No. 16 General Hospital, Bloemfontein7;and, at No. 15 General Hospital, Elandsfontein8. She was Mentioned in Dispatches by Lord Kitchener in 19029, 10. She had a letter published in The Nursing Record & Hospital World:

No. 1 General Hospital, Wynberg, S. Africa.

Dec 11th, 1899.

We had a great reception at the Cape when we arrived. The people cheered and our troops cheered back, and it was wonderful altogether. We landed next day and were sent out here, only about nine miles from Cape Town, where the huts were ready for us. Such a lovely place it is, with that wondrous Table Mountain at the back, and Simon’s Bay in the distance in front. A pine wood surrounds us – and it is summer! The Camp is now one huge hospital all up the hill and in the wood. There are 620 beds, and already 500 have been filled. The men from Belmont were brought in on the 26th, such a number and such terrible cases. I never saw anything so awful and sad as some of them, and they are so patient and good. Many had to have operations at once. It is a grand place for them, so fresh and nice, and a large number are doing well. I have net a good many old patients from the Guards already, so awfully altered I scarcely knew them … One realises now what war means and the utter horror of it; and this they say is only the beginning. I am very glad to be here, and can do a great deal to make them more comfortable, poor brave fellows, but there is so much that we can’t do. The rush of work for the first few days after the wounded arrive is tremendous. I just long for several pairs of hands and feet, to run a few different ways at once! No words can describe how heart-rending it is to see them coming in on stretchers, one after another, many of them such utter wrecks. There is one Gordon Highlander in one of my wards with spinal wounds, paralysed all but his arms, and he is as cheery as if he were well, and with such a store of quaint humour. All are wonderfully patient. People are very good in sending fruit, jellies, and all sorts of nice things for them, and they do appreciate them … We have four Canadian nurses who came over with the Canadian troops, they are helping us and are most charming women … We are all hoping to get up country in the hospital train by turns; two have to go each journey to collect the wounded from the Field Hospitals and bring them here … A.C.L.A11.

She returned home on the Bavarian, arriving back in Southampton on September 8, 190212.

After the Boer War

She was appointed to Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) as Sister 17th February 190313. By the 1911 Census she had married Ewan McPherson, an Army Chaplain, and had two children14.


  1. The England Census 1871 RG 12/ 237/ 95/ 27
  2. Evening Post, Volume LVIII, Issue 132, 12 January 1899, Page 2 (Wellington, New Zealand)
  3. War Office (1900) The Army List for March 1900
  4. War Office (1898) The Army List for September 1898
  5. An Aerial Steamship. (1899). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (Western Australia) December 28, 1899, p. 24
  6. The National Archives: War Office WO 100/229 Queen’s South Africa Medal Roll p11 created at No1 General Hospital, Wynberg; dated July 14, 1901
  7. The National Archives: War Office WO 100/229 Queen’s South Africa Medal Roll p41 created at No4 General Hospital, Mooi River; dated October 10, 1901
  8. The National Archives: War Office WO 100/229 Queen’s South Africa Medal Roll p85 created at No15 General Hospital, Elandsfontein; dated September 23, 1901
  9. The London Gazette, July 29, 1902, page 4853
  10. London Standard, July 30, 1902, page 8
  11. The Nursing Record & Hospital World, January 13, 1900, p.34
  12. British Journal of Nursing, August 30th, 1902: p178
  13. The London Gazette, May 26 1903, p3365
  14. The England Census RG14 34996 11