In July 1916 Kate, now calling herself Katherine, applied for entry to the U.K. from Canada. She sailed from Toronto to Liverpool on the S/S Grampian, arriving on July 17th under the name of Kitty Barnard ‘with a view to offering my services for national work in connection with the war’. A few months later, Katherine began her army life in March 1917 as a civilian waitress at Scotton Camp, Catterick, North Yorkshire, home of the Royal Field Artillery. She applied to join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in March 1918; like all women she had to enrol through an Employment Exchange. Her application was processed by the Exchange in Northallerton, North Yorks.
There are a number of letters, held at the National Archives, from the War Office concerning her application together with copies of references. On the 5th May 1918, the canteen manager, Lilian Orton, wrote to the War Office saying Miss K. Barnard, 189 Canteen, ‘A’ Battery, 5th Res. R.F.A., Scotton Camp, Catterick, Yorks has my permission to volunteer for service in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and I am prepared to release her from my employ in the event of her being accepted for service in the Corps.
A letter from the Employment Exchange in Northallerton to the Divisional Office of the Army in Doncaster, dated June 6th 1918 states: I beg again forward for consideration application in respect of undermentioned applicant, who has now obtained her employer’s consent.
Three references were written to support her application. The first was from Charles Stokes, an insurance agent living at 37 Coleshill Street, Fazely, the same street in which his younger brother Lewis lived. He wrote that he had known the applicant for two years as a personal friend of the family. I know nothing of applicant’s qualities catering as Forewoman waitress but am of the opinion that she would soon become adapted to the work. The canteen manager, Lilian Orton wrote that she had worked for seven months as a coffee bar charge hand: she is a thoroughly capable waitress and in every way suitable for the position. Her work has always been satisfactory a) absolutely reliable and steady b) industrious c) perfectly honest (the reference is undated). Katherine’s uncle, police sergeant John Henry Barnard, whose reference of 5th July 1918 was cited earlier in relation to Kate’s childhood, added my impression was that she had grown into a well informed and respectable young woman. If it is of any assistance to you in forming my opinion of the value of my Kate I may say I have a 30 years character … (illegible word) and have brought up a respectable family.
Katherine was finally accepted in the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps on July 23rd 1918 at Doncaster, over a year after she had begun her application. Her service number was 41674 and military unit was 2 WAAC. Her British Empire Certificate of Identity includes the following information:
Name: Barnard, Katherine (Miss)
Date of birth: 7th April, 1894
Age 24 and 3 months (her birth certificate shows she was born 27th April 1893; she has described herself as a year younger than her actual age)
Permanent Address: 10 Midland Cottages, Rectory Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham
Physical description: height 5ft 4ins, hair brown, eyes brown, medium build, weight 127 lbs
Next of kin: mother Mrs Jennie Barnard, 14 Coleshill Street, Fazeley, Near Tamworth, Staffs.
The army provided a uniform for its members; it included outer garments but not underwear. Katherine signed for the following items: 1 hat badge, 1 felt hat, 1 coat, 1 greatcoat, 1 gaiters, 1 frock, 3 collars, 4 overalls, 2 pairs of stockings, 2 sets of shoulder titles, 1 Brassards (arm bands).