KATHLEEN WALKER AN AWAS
LATER KNOWN AS OODGEROO NOONUCCAL
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 


Photo:- AWM ID Number P01688.001

AWAS L/Cpl Kathleen Walker (QF267190)

 

Twenty one year old Kathleen Jean Mary Ruska (QF267190), enlisted in the AWAS on 5 December 1942. She later married Bruce Raymond Walker of Buranda, in December 1942 and became Lance Corporal Kathleen Walker.

Kath Walker attended the AWAS Training School at "Coorabel" at Graham Street, Indooroopilly in Brisbane on 7 December 1942. She marched out for duty with No. 1 Company, Queensland L of C Sigs on 2 January 1943 and trained as a switchboard operator at Camp Chermside in Brisbane.

She was detached for duty to D.F.O. on 26 March 1943. She was interviewed in the 1990's and said she had worked in Army Headquarters in Ann Street, in what she called the DFO. The District Finance Officer was part of the Queensland L of C Area District Accounts Office which operated from Ann Street, Brisbane where this office managed the accounting, pay and audit functions throughout Queensland and New Guinea. This is probably what she referred to as DFO.

Kath Walker's attachment to District Accounts Office (DOA) was temporary on 26 March 43 and all her service record entries until June 1943 originated from Qld L of C Sigs. She returned from that detachment on 17 May 1943 and on 1 June 1943 she became a member of 63 Switchboard Operating Section which was formed within 1 Company Qld L of C Sigs at that time. On 24 June 1943, Lance Corporal Kath Walker transferred permanently from Queensland L of C Sigs to the District Accounts Office (DOA).

Kath was promoted to Lance Corporal on 8 April 1943.

Kath went AWOL from 2359 hours on 30 May 1943 until 2215 hours on 31 May 1943 and was severely reprimanded by her commanding officer and forfeited one days pay.

On 30 September 1943 she was admitted to No. 2 Australian Women's Hospital and was discharged on 12 October 1943 and taken back on strength at District Accounts Office on 18 October 1943. She was evacuated again to 2 Australian Women's Hospital on 29 October 1943 and was taken back on strength at DOA on 30 November 1943.

Kath Walker attended dances at the Dr Carver Club at South Brisbane, during WWII.

On 19 January 1944 she was attached to 68 AWAS Barracks and discharged from the AWAS on medical grounds. She had gingivitis and a serious ear infection which led to a partial hearing loss. Kath was living at 19 Myrtle Street, Buranda at that time. Her husband Bruce was in reserved occupation as a welder at the Evans Deakins shipyards, so was unable to enlist in the military.

Kath and Bruce Walker had a son Denis but they had separated by the time he was born. Kath became a domestic servant for Sir Raphael and Lady Phyllis Cilento. In 1953 Kath had a second son called Vivian. The father was Raphael Cilento Junior, the son of Sir Raphael and Lady Phyllis Cilento.

Kath and Bruce Walker were divorced in 1954.

Kath Walker's two brothers Edward "Eddie" Allan Ruska (QX18716) and Eric Victor Ruska (QX19695) were both in the 2/26th Australian Infantry Battalion. They were both captured at Singapore, the day after they arrived by boat.

Kath participated in the Army's post war rehabilitation program and received training in secretarial work and book-keeping.

Kath Walker went on to became a respected Australian poet and involved herself in political activities. Kath was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) MBE for services to the community in 1970. She returned her MBE in 1987 in protest against the upcoming Australian Bicentenary celebrations in 1988. She also adopted the Aboriginal name Oodgeroo Noonuccal at that time as well.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Queensland History Journal, The Royal Historical Society of Queensland, May 2016, Vol. 23, No. 1

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Karen Nunan and Graham McKenzie-Smith for their assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 27 August 2016

This page last updated 31 December 2016