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Katharine Symonds Furse
Birth: Nov. 23, 1875
Death: Nov. 25, 1952

Social Reformer, she was a pioneer in the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachments. Born in the family of the historian, John Addington Symonds and Janet Catherine, and educated by governesses and her mother, she spent most of her early life in Switzerland and Italy. She had intended to train as a hospital nurse but after meeting the artist, Charles Wellington Furse, she changed her plans. The couple were married in 1900 but Furse died four years later leaving her with two young children. In 1909 she joined the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment that was attached to the Territorial Army. On the outbreak of the First World War she was chosen to head the first Voluntary Aid Detachment unit to be sent to France. Aware of her administrative abilities, the authorities decided to place her in charge of the VAD Department in London. By 1916 she was appointed Commander-in-Chief and the following year became one of the five women appointed Dame Grand Cross, a newly created Order of the British Empire. Although considered a great success as head of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, she was unhappy about her lack of power to introduce reforms. In November 1917, she resigned and was immediately offered the post as Director of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS). The Royal Navy was the first of the armed forces to recruit women and since 1916 the Women's Royal Naval Service took over the role of cooks, clerks, wireless telegraphists, code experts and electricians. After the war she joined the travel agency of Sir Henry Lunn. Working mainly in Switzerland, she became an expert skier and did a great deal to popularize the sport with British tourists. Her achievements were acknowledged when she became President of the Ladies' Ski Club. In 1920 formed the Association of Wrens and this led to her becoming head of the Sea Rangers and for ten years was director of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Her autobiography, Hearts and Pomegranates was published in 1940. (bio by: julia&keld) 
Family links: 
  John Addington Symonds (1840 - 1893)
  Janet Catherine North Symonds (1837 - 1913)
  Charles Wellington Furse (1868 - 1904)*
  Peter Reynolds Furse (1901 - 1970)*
*Calculated relationship
St Peters Churchyard
Surrey Heath Borough
Surrey, England
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: julia&keld
Record added: Aug 12, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 20913846
Katharine <i>Symonds</i> Furse
Added by: God Bless & R.I.P. ~ Daughter Of An Angel ~
Katharine <i>Symonds</i> Furse
Added by: Women in Technology-19th Century
Katharine <i>Symonds</i> Furse
Added by: julia&keld
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- Tom A. Hawk
 Added: Nov. 25, 2013
What an amazing woman! thank you for your service, dedication and deeply caring nature. Many people benefitted by your services. SaluteTo you! May you rest peacefully Katherine.......
- PamA.S
 Added: Mar. 23, 2013

- Lance
 Added: Dec. 2, 2012
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