Chief Wren Catherine (Joan) Matthews joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service in July 1942, she was the fourth WREN to be recruited. After six months of basic training in the shore establishment HMNZS PHILOMEL she was posted to the shore establishment HMNZS COOK in Wellington as a driver. Chief Wren Matthews was for a time the driver for the Chief of Naval Staff, Commodore Sir Atwell Lake. She developed eye sight problems and became a clerk in the Regulating Office at the Hinemoa Street Depot in Wellington. In early 1944 she spent a short period in the shore establishment HMNZS TASMAN in Lyttleton. In mid 1944 Matthews returned to HMNZS COOK and the Regulating Office.
In May 1945 Chief Wren Matthews was posted to the Drafting Office in HMNZS PHILOMEL. She proceeded to the United Kingdom in 1946 to be part of the Victory Parade and talks of this in some detail. On her return to New Zealand in September 1946 she left the Womens Royal New Zealand Naval Service. Matthews rejoined the WRNZNS in May 1947, staying for a period of less than a year.
Catherine (Joan) Matthews retired from the Womens Royal New Zealand Naval Service in February 1948 having attained the rank of Chief Wren.