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Kathleen Best Memorial Gates

Occupations
Commemoration
Location
Royal Military College, Duntroon

Summary

On 6 November 1959 a memorial gateway to the first director of the Womens Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) was erected at the entrance to WRAAC School, Georges Heights, Sydney and was opened by His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, Lieutenant General Sir Eric Woodward KCMG, CB, CBE, DSO.

The design chosen for the gates was submitted by an Australian Regular Army (ARA) Sergeant, Juanita Feltham BEM. The design was symbolic of the life and work of Colonel Kathleen Best. The gates were relocated to the Royal Military College, Duntroon and rededicated on 6 November 1994.

Details

Description of gates

The overall background is composed of a pattern of the Red Cross, which is symbolic of the life and work of Colonel Best's early associations with the medical professions. The main gates bear the lozenge, which is the heraldic women's emblem. The left hand gate symbolises her associations with the medical service during World War II and the right hand gate is symbolic of her service with the WRAAC. The centre of the main gates form a cruciform synomous with the Red Cross which symbolised her Christianity and humanity.

The spikes above the gates are in the form of gum leaves and represent the 47 years of her life. The gates were wrought at the Army Apprentices School, Balcombe, Victoria and hung from piers made of natural sandstone.

A commemorative panel bearing ceramic tile Command Formation signs is on the right of the gates while to the left of the main gates is a foot gate bearing the Corps badge in bronze. Moneys raised for the gates were donated from serving and ex-service women.

The last parade of the WRAAC was held on 5 December 1984. The following day the WRAAC flag was lowered and handed to the WRAAC School's last Commanding Officer, Lt-Col Robert Hennessy, following which Colonel Best's sister, Gwen Ellis, and Major Dianne McVicker ceremonially closed the Best memorial gates for the last time. Later the gates were dismantled and lay neglected until the WRAAC Association succeeded in having them relocated in the grounds of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, where they were rededicated on 6 November 1994, exactly 35 years after their official opening. [1]

[1] Soldiers of the Queen by Janette Bomford p. 120.

Sources used to compile this entry: Bomford, Janette, Soldiers of the Queen : women in the Australian Army, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Vic., 2001, 183 pp; WRAAC Association, A Stroll down memory lane, 2001, 38 pp.

Related entries

Related Women

Archival resources

National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office

  • Kathleen Best Memorial Gates, 1959, MT1131/1/2; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details

National Archives of Australia, National Office

  • Kathleen Best Memorial (Gates) and portrait, 1957 - 1984, A7481/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Opening of the Kathleen Best Memorial Gates, 6 November 1959, A7483/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Speech by Colonel Sybil H IRVING, 1959, Control Symbol 2; Irving, Sybil Howy (1897 - 1973); National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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