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Wing Officer Doris Carter OBE (1912 – 1999)
April 28, 2019
Olympic champion and decorated military officer Doris Carter may not be remembered by people currently living at OCAV’s Rushall Park, but the former resident’s name is carved into many history books, both in Australia and in England.
According to the Australian Olympic Committee: “In competing in the high jump at Berlin 1936, Doris Carter from Victoria was the first Australian woman to compete in an Olympic field event. Highly fancied as a medal contender going into Berlin, she was hampered by an ankle injury and finished equal sixth.”
Doris, who was born on 5 January 1912, also competed in the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney. She won five National Championships at high jump (1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1940) and two at discus throw (1936, 1940) in her career. She remained in the sport after retiring from competition and at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Doris was one of the Assistant Managers of the Australian Team.
As well as being a class athlete Doris forged a successful military career that began when she served in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force(WAAAF) from January 1942 to October 1945 and led the WAAAF contingent in the Victory March in London.
Doris was with the Department of Post-War Reconstruction from 1946-48 and at the time of her appointment was in charge of the Child and Youth Migration Section of the Department of Immigration. Before returning to Australia, Doris spent a month studying WRAF organisation and establishments in Britain.
On 11 April 1951 Doris was appointed Director of the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force (WRAAF) with the rank of Wing Officer. In 1957 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire. The Citation was as follows:
“Wing Officer Carter served with the WAAAF during the 1939-45 War and was later recalled to represent the WAAAF in the Victory Contingent which visited the United Kingdom in 1946.
During the war years this officer showed outstanding ability as an organiser and leader and when it was decided to reconstitute the Women’s Branch of the RAAF, she was again recalled and appointed Director of WRAAF in April 1951.
In the appointment Wing Officer Carter, by outstanding leadership and tireless effort, has moulded the WRAAF into a most effective force. Her ability to establish and maintain a perfect balance between womanly aspects and service requirements, and her genuine interest in the welfare of all airwomen have won for her the confidence and respect of all members of the Service.
Her organising abilities and outstanding personal qualities were recognised by her appointment as Manager of the Australian Women’s Olympic Team in the recent Olympic Games and the manner in which she performed this task brought international recognition and added prestige to the WRAAF, and the RAAF as a whole.”
With a successful career behind her, Doris arrived at Rushall Park in 1986 and lived there until 1999.
Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."