The Barrett J Carr Collection of Nurses’ Medals
Barrett J. Carr, JP BSc
Barry Carr was born in Brisbane on 17 July 1934. He left primary school after obtaining the Queensland Scholarship and became an apprentice plumber and gas fitter, but in 1953 he was called up for National Service. He volunteered for Korea but his parents would not give their consent to him going as he was under 21, although he continued to serve in the Citizens Military Forces (CMF) and reached the rank of sergeant while becoming a self-employed contractor in his chosen trade.
In 1958 he joined the Royal Australian Air Force "because the food was much better than in the regular army", attending night school to further his education. Discharged in 1964, he attended the University of New South Wales and graduated with a BSc (Civil Engineering) degree before rejoining the CMF and attending 14 Course OCTU in Sydney, from which he graduated as a lieutenant in 1972 and was posted to 4 Field Squadron Royal Australian Engineers. Work commitments caused him to resign from the CMF with the rank of captain (IO) in 1979; he then joined the Public Works Department and subsequently transferred to the Housing Commission of New South Wales, retiring from a consultancy there in 2000.
As a boy growing up in Brisbane during the Second World War, where there was a large contingent of army, navy and USAAF personnel with the associated submarine base and airfield at Eagle Farm, Barry started to collect militaria. One day he noticed in a pawn shop window "a lovely medal with 4 very attractive bars on it, which I later found out was a Crimea medal." From then on he was hooked and decided to collect medals "as soon as I could afford it, which wasn't until I joined the RAAF." As a beginner he acquired all types of medals, but eventually decided to concentrate on those named to Australians, New Zealanders, Colonial units, the Royal Navy and unusual QSA Imperial groups. When these started to become difficult to find he extended his collecting areas to medals awarded to women, those for life saving "and anything I found of interest." A founder member of the New South Wales Military Historical Society and past editor of the Society's magazine Despatch, as well as a member of many medal collecting societies, including the OMRS and OMSA, he has also contributed to the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
After nearly 50 years of collecting medals, throughout which he was ably assisted by the late Donald Hall, Barry has decided that it was time he culled his holdings and hence is offering for sale the majority of his QSA collection, keeping only his medals to Australians, New Zealanders and those with an Australasian connection. Like many before him who had collected for that sort of time span, Barry has had "some very nice medals" through his hands, including those to a sergeant at Rorke's Drift, a 21st Lancer charger at Omdurman and a 1953 Coronation medal for the conquest of Everest named to a sherpa, all of which were traded in his pursuit for QSAs. Barry's interest remains undimmed and his latest area of collecting is now temperance medals.