Dr. (Attracta) Genevieve Rewcastle qualified M.B, B.Ch., BAO. at the National University of Ireland. From 1931 to 1939 she was in private practice, and 1935-6 she was the President of the Catholic Women's League, for which service she was awarded a gold Papal Medal, the highest honour bestowed by the Vatican on the laity. In the 1930s she was also personal clinical assistant to Dr. Donald Paterson at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street.
In 1939, she was appointed Medical Superintendent of the WRNS and in 1940 was commissioned in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), thereby having the distinction of being the first woman to be appointed to the Royal Navy. She was promoted surgeon lieutenant-commander in 1945, being the only woman to hold this rank. Rewcastle played an important part in maintaining an effecient medical service for the women in the Navy and was awarded an OBE in recognition of her wartime services. After the war, Rewcastle returned to Great Ormond Street and took the DCH and then went to work as a maternity and child-welfare officer in South-East London. She also ran for Parliament in the 1950 General Election, as the Conservative candidate for Willesden West, losing to Labour incumbent Samuel Viant. She had been selected to run in the more 'winnable' seat of Coventry in the next election, but died of Oesophageal Cancer in 1951.
The collection contains certificates and commissioners; letters to and from Rewcastle; leaflets concerning her political career, material on the loss of her son who was in HMS AFFRAY that malfunctioned in 1951 and also two of her obituaries.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Rewcastle, Attracta Genevieve, Doctor (1897-1951) (REW)