Rear Admiral William James Carr

CAPT (later RADM) William James Carr

William James Carr was born on 30 January 1883 at Thornton-in-Craven, Yorkshire, England. He was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge, and did the clinical training for his medical degree at the London Hospital in 1908. He remained at the hospital as a resident medical officer in 1909-10, was medical officer on a tramp-steamer in 1911, and a locum tenens in London and Kent in 1912.

Carr joined the Royal Australian Navy, in London, on 9 December 1912 and was posted to the cruiser HMAS Melbourne with the rank of Surgeon. He remained aboard Melbourne until late 1917, seeing war service in the Pacific, North Atlantic, West Indies and the North Sea. His experiences in the West Indies led to a paper on tropical bubo, delivered to the Australasian Medical Congress in 1923. In October 1917 he was transferred to HMAS Australia, then in March 1918 to HMAS Sydney. He was promoted Surgeon Lieutenant Commander that December and the following year, on 5 August, married Leonora Constance Eddington in Toorak, Melbourne. He was Medical Officer at the Royal Australian Naval College in Jervis Bay from August 1920 to March 1923 and was then appointed to the naval wing of the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick, Sydney. He was promoted Surgeon Commander in June 1924. In 1925 he went on an exchange posting to the Royal Naval Hospital at Haslar near Portsmouth, England, and on his return in June 1927 joined the hospital staff at Flinders Naval Depot, Victoria.

In December 1932 Carr was appointed Director of Naval Medical Services and held this post until his retirement in 1946. He was appointed Honorary Physician to His Excellency the Governor-General initially for a period of three years from 1 March 1933; an appointment which was extended until 7 November 1940 after which he was made Honorary Physician to His Majesty the King. He was promoted Surgeon Captain in December 1934. During World War II his administrative ability was directed to the medical problems of the much enlarged RAN which expanded from 5300 personnel in 1939 to almost 40,000 in 1945. The medical supply system which he developed stood the test of war and his pre-war emphasis on reserve training bore fruit in the numbers of competent doctors who chose to serve in the Navy: by 1945 the service had 110 medical officers, most of whom were reservists. Carr oversaw the formation of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Nursing Service in 1942.

Carr retired on 8 March 1946 as Surgeon Rear Admiral, the first RAN officer to attain this rank. He was appointed CBE in 1937 and became a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1943. In retirement at Frankston, Victoria, he took an active interest in Liberal Party politics and was a keen follower of many sports. Survived by his wife, a son and two daughters, he died on 16 May 1966.