• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE0406

Deasey, Maude (Kathleen)

(1909 – 1968) Major Kathleen Deasey
  • Born 26 May, 1909, Collingwood Victoria Australia
  • Died 6 September, 1968, Prahran Victoria Australia
  • Occupation Administrator, Servicewoman, Teacher


Kathleen Deasey was appointed assistant-controller Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS), Southern Command in November 1941. Prior to joining the AWAS, Deasey was lady superintendent at Melbourne’s Ladies College, Melbourne. Following World War II, Deasey worked with the Department of Immigration, after which she studied at the Sorbonne, Paris. Later Deasey returned to teaching and was a senior tutor in education at the University of Melbourne and then became Principal of St Ann’s College, University of Adelaide.


The second of six children to Anglican clergyman, Rev. Denis Murrell and Maude Williamson (née Watt) Deasey, Kathleen was educated at Geelong Church of England Girls’ Grammar School. She obtained a BA (1931), MA (1933) and DipEd (1935) from the University of Melbourne, and a BA (1937) and MA (1946) from Newham College, Cambridge. She taught at Frensham, Mittagong, NSW and became lady superintendent at Methodist Ladies College (Melbourne).

In November 1941 Deasey was appointed assistant-controller, Southern Command and was promoted to Major on 28 January 1942. Initially she established the service’s structure in Victoria and then supervised the enlistment and training of recruits. In May 1943 she was transferred to First Army Headquarters, Toowoomba, Queensland as assistant-controller and later to the Australian Army Chaplains’ Department, Land Headquarters, Melbourne.

In 1944 the Chaplains’ Department published, Readings and Prayers for Members of the Army Women’s Services, a booklet that Deasey compiled. After the war she represented the Australian Women’s Army Service at the Victory march in London (1946) and then returned to Australia and drafted a history of the Service.

After being discharged from the army Deasey worked with the Department of Immigration, spent time studying at the Sorbonne, Paris, followed by administering an agency sponsorship scheme for the World Council of Churches. From 1960 to 1961 she was a senior tutor in education at the University of Melbourne and then became Principal of St Ann’s College, University of Adelaide, until 1966. Returning to Melbourne in 1967, she joined the staff of Larnook Domestic Arts Teachers’ College, Armadale.

Kathleen Deasey, who never married, died on 6 September 1968 and was buried in Boroondara cemetery, Kew.


Published resources

Archival resources

  • National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office
    • Deasey, M K Maj - appointment as LC between AA Ch D and Australian Army women's services
  • National Archives of Australia, National Office, Canberra
    • DEASEY MAUDE KATHLEEN : Service Number - V345001 : Date of birth - 26 May 1909 : Place of birth - MELBOURNE : Place of enlistment - MELBOURNE VIC : Next of Kin - DEASEY D
  • National Library of Australia
    • [Biographical cuttings on M. Kathleen Deasey, college principal, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
  • Australian War Memorial, Research Centre
    • Honours and Awards - Recommendations for New Year Honours List 1946
    • General Sir Thomas Blamey inspects units of the Australian Women's Army Service at their headquarters
    • Major Deasey sewing on a victory contingent colour patch for Private Frank John Partridge VC, on board HMAS Shropshire
    • Major M. K. Deasey, Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS)
    • Portrait of Major Kathleen Deasey who in November 1941 was appointed Assistant Controller in Victoria of the Australian Womens' Army Service.

Digital resources

Related entries

  • Related Organisations
    • Methodist Ladies' College (MLC), Melbourne (1882 - )
    • Frensham School (1913 - )
    • Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) (1941 - 1947)