Ethel was born to James and Johanna Watkins at Inverell in 1893. Her nursing training was completed in Sydney at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Shortly after passing her final exams in June 1916 she enlisted and sailed from Australia on HMAT Ulysses in May 1917.
After arriving in England she was attached to the Croydon War Hospital then at 3AA Hospital Dartford before being sent to France in July 1918. She nursed soldiers suffering from nerves, ear diseases, joint and jaw injuries. At the end of the War Ethel returned to England and was admitted to hospital with influenza.
Ethel’s two brothers, Beach and Jack, also served during the War. Ethel returned home in 1919 and was given a Welcome Home at the Gilgai Hall where a special presentation was made to her.
For some years after the War she worked as a nurse at Inverell until moving to Sydney. During 1934 Ethel married Francis Madden. She died in 1980 at Chatswood, Sydney.