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Women In Service

The Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service was formed as a direct result of a shortage of telegraphists. At the end of the Second World War it was disbanded, but manpower shortages in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) led to the service being re-constituted in 1951. Those in the WRANS were made a permanent part of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in December 1959.

By the end of World War II the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) had recruited more than 24,000 women. The AWAS was the only non-medical women’s service to send personnel overseas during the war when in 1944, and in 1945 AWAS personnel served in both Dutch and Australian New Guinea.

AWAS who arrived in Lae from Australia







Photo: AWAS who arrived in Lae from Australia, wait for the trucks to transport them to the AWAS barracks at Butibum Road, New Guinea, 1945.






After 1947, women were not as involved in the services as they had been during World War II and by 30 June 1947, all members of the AWAS, WAAAF and WRANS had been demobilised. Thirty-three nurses deployed overseas during the Malayan Emergency and Australian service-women worked in British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) hospitals in Japan and Korea during the Korean War.

The Vietnam War involved forty-three members of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC). Australian women civilians also deployed to Vietnam serving as journalists, entertainers, Red Cross support and civilian medical teams.