Helen Cattanach

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Helen S. Cattanach
Born (1920-06-21)June 21, 1920
Knockando, Morayshire, Scotland, UK
Died May 4, 1994(1994-05-04) (aged 73)
Nationality British
Occupation Director of British Army Nursing Services

Brigadier Helen S. Cattanach, CB, RRC (21 June 1920 – 4 May 1994) was Director of British Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief of QARANC.[1] She received a number of awards and medals including the Royal Red Cross and her portrait appears at the National Portrait Gallery.


Born to Francis and Marjory (née Grant) Cattanach in Knockando, Morayshire, Scotland in 1920, Helen Cattanach attended the Elgin Academy before travelling to Aberdeen to study nursing at Woodend Hospital. Having completed her training as a State Registered Nurse, her military career began during the hostilities of World War II when she joined the Civil Nursing Reserve.[1] She became a regular Nursing Sister in the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) in 1946, having spent the period from June 1945 as a reserve in the corps.[2]

From 1958 she was posted to the War Office, initially as a Staff Officer with the Army Medical Directorate, and then, in 1961, as the first officer from the Queen Alexandra's Corps to serve in the recruiting branch.[2] After fulfilling the recruitment role "with great enthusiasm",[2] she returned to nursing as a ward sister in Hong Kong.

In 1972, after being promoted to Matron at British Military Hospital in Münster in 1968 and the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot, in 1969, she was promoted to Brigadier and appointed as the Matron-in-Chief and Director of Army Nursing Services.[1] This was the highest rank available to women in the British Army.[2]

The National Portrait Gallery, London includes seven photographic portraits of Helen Cattanach taken by Bassano on 31 December 1976.[3]

Awards and honours[edit]


Brigadier Cattanach retired to Woking, Surrey, where she was engaged in charity work.[2]



She died on 4 May 1994, aged 73, from undisclosed causes. Her obituary appeared in the Gazette of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Association, vol. 10, #11.


  1. ^ a b c "Director Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief (Army)". Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Deaths: Brigadier Helen S. Cattanach". Creag Dhubh (47): 13–14. 1995. ISSN 0967-6538. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  3. ^ "Helen Cattanach". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  4. ^ Profile in Creag Dhubh, vol. 25 (1973), p. 553

External links[edit]