Kate Evelyn Luard was born in 1872, into a large family1 2, and spent her earliest years in Aveley, where her father, Rev. Bixby Luard, was the Vicar3 4. Later the family moved to Birch where they lived in Birch Rectory5.

Birch Rectory

Kate’s siblings:

  • Frederick Bramston Luard, born 3rd November 1861
  • Hugh Bixby Luard, born 13th October 1862
  • Alexander Trant Luard, born in 1863
  • Frank William Luard, born 15th January 1865
  • Clara Georgina Luard, born 28th February 1866
  • Amy Charlotte Luard, born 1867 (died in infancy)
  • Annette Jane Luard, born 29th August 1868
  • Edwin Percy Luard, born 13th October 1869
  • Helen Lucy Luard, born 17th July 1871
  • Katherine (Kate) Evelyn Luard, born 29th June 1872
  • Trant Bramston Luard, born 5th November 1873
  • Rose Mary Luard, born 22nd April 1876
  • Margaret Annie Luard, born 10th March 1880

Kate went to the Croydon High School for Girls6, one of the original schools that formed part of the Girls Public Day School Trust. Here she met one of what was to be many military influences in her life. The headmistress, Miss Dorinda Neligan, was the daughter of an Army officer. She had served with the Red Cross in the Franco-Prussian war (1870), including the battle of Metz. Miss Neligan was also active in the suffragette movement7. Kate then had a number of posts as a governess8.

Nurse Training

Kate then went to King’s College Hospital, London to train as a nurse. The Matron of King’s College Hospital at this time was Katherine Monk, a pioneer of nurse education. Miss Monk was also a keen supporter of military nursing, and was one of two civil matrons on the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service (QAIMNS) Advisory Board for the Improvement and Reorganisation of Military Hospitals at the end of the Boer War9.

Kate held the positions of Out-Patient Sister at the Evelina Hospital and Night Superintendent at the Charing Cross Hospital10.

Joining the Army

Kate came from a very military family. Her uncle was Admiral Sir William Luard KCB, and her great grandfather was General Nicholas Trant (who served in the Portuguese Army) during the Peninsular War11.

Frederick, Hugh and Frank Luard in uniform (picture with permission of the Luard family)

Her brother Alexander joined the Royal Navy as a Midshipman, but died in an accident when he fell from aloft on HMS Temeraire at Villa Franca in 188012. Frank joined the Royal Marines in 1884 and was Adjutant of the Portsmouth Division at the time of the Boer War13. Frederick had gone to the Royal Military College and had then been commissioned into the 1st West India Regiment in 188714, and was serving with them at the time of the Boer War15. Hugh had trained as a surgeon at St Thomas’ Hospital before being commissioned into the Indian Medical Services in 1890. At the time of the Boer War he was serving in India, retiring because of ill-health in 190116. Her brother Trant joined the Marines as Second Lieutenant in 1893, and was Assistant Instructor of musketry, Chatham Division in 1899. He was promoted to Captain in 1900, and served on HMS Blenheim in China in 190117.

On the 31st March, 1900, Kate enrolled into the Princess Christian’s Army Nursing Service (Reserve), volunteering for service in South Africa.