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April 25, 2017
ANZAC Day is a special day for Sr Carla Curran, a senior Sister in Western Australia.
The eldest of seven children, Carla was educated by the Sisters of St Joseph at the convent school at South Perth, in the buildings where she now lives.
During World War II, while still at school, Carla joined the Women’s Air Training Corps (WATC) which met one afternoon a week and on Saturday afternoons. The girls wore a smart navy skirt, white blouse and a beret. Carla had an ambition to learn to fly an aeroplane and was in the running to receive a scholarship. However, one Saturday morning she wore the WATC uniform to school. The Sisters were not impressed and said it was more important for her to get a good education. When she told her mother the Sisters had disapproved, Carla was forced to leave the WATC.
Carla still remembers the song the girls sang as they marched. Sung to the tune of the “Shores of Tripoli” it went:
From all the parts of the Commonwealth to the shores of WA
We have found recruits and we know they will obey
Whether cooks or signalers
Proficient they will be
Because they’re the members of the WATC.
Carla left school before she completed her Leaving. She had a number of jobs around Perth and then worked and traveled around the eastern states, always keeping in touch with the Sisters of St Joseph.
In 1951 Carla applied to join the Navy – part of the attraction being the uniform the women wore. She served in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service Group 8 with responsibility for codes and ciphers communicated by Morse code and teleprinters. Carla was based first at Flinders Naval Depot on the Mornington Peninsula, and then at Harman Naval Wireless station in Canberra. She progressed to become a Leading WRAN Telegraphist before leaving in 1955.
After much thought Carla entered the Sisters of St Joseph in 1957.
Carla marched for the first time in an ANZAC Parade in the late 1970s, at a time when she was still wearing a habit. In the mid-1990s, when she came to live permanently in South Perth, she began marching regularly in the Perth ANZAC Parade. In recent years she has been collected by car and driven in the parade. Carla hopes to attend the march again this year.