Royal Australian Naval Service
In April 1941 the
Royal Australian Navy employed 14 Civilian Females who had been trained
privately as Wireless Telegraphists, and the first of them started work
at HMAS Harman, the RANs W/T station near Canberra,
to relieve the acute shortage of male operators caused by Australia's
involvement in WW2.
The dedication of
this willing band of women soon became obvious, so four months later
it was decided to increase the women's strength to 1000.
On 1 October 1942
the civilian status of the women telegraphists was abolished on the
formation of the Womens Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS).
The WRANS grew
to a wartime complement of 2500 women serving in more than 22 categories
of duties and numerous special postings. The last wartime WRAN was
discharged in 1948 when the WRANS were disbanded. However in 1951
the service was reconstituted.
New entry WRANS
drilling at HMAS HARMAN during WW2
categories were Telegraphist, Writer, Sick Berth Attendant, Stores
Assistant, Cook, Steward and Regulating.
In 1959 the WRANS
became part of the Permanent Naval Forces (PNF) and its members served
in all naval establishments in Australia, generally carrying out the
same duties as their male counterparts. Conditions of service and
employment oppo tunities for members of the WRANS were aligned as
closely as possible with those of naval servicemen of the day.
the conditions and employment stemmed from Government policy of the
day that service-women are not to be employed in combat duties. This
policy effectively precluded members of the WRANS from seagoing employment.
WRANS officers were allowed up to three weeks sea experience
(whilst under training) on the RANs then training ship, HMAS
Jervis Bay. WRAN officers were employed in the fields of administration,
training, recruiting, communications, supply and secretariat, medicine,
dentistry and law.
WRANS were employed
in the categories: cook, steward, writer, stores victualling, regulating,
radio operator, radar plot, motor transport driver, electronic technical
communications, dental and medical.
RAN Nursing Service (RANNS)
The RAN Nursing
Service (RANNS) was inaugurated in April 1942 and, in October 1942,
23 qualified nursing sisters began duty at RAN hospitals. By the wars
end there were 56 nursing sisters in the RANNS, working in RAN hospitals
all over Australia and at Milne Bay, Papua. The RANNS disbanded in
August 1948 but was re-established in November 1964
RAN Nursing Sisters
tending patients at Balmoral Naval Hospital, WW2.
the Royal Australian Naval Nursing Service (RANNS) must have been
registered nurses with at least 12 months experience as general trained
nurses. They enlisted in the RAN with the rank of sub-lieutenant on
probation and after undergoing training as naval officers at HMAS
Creswell then undertook familiarisation at the RAN Medical Training
School at HMAS Cerberus, after which they were posted to billets in
either the RAN Hospital, HMAS Penguin, in Sydney or the RAN hospital.
After their initial
period of service nurses could expect to be posted to Albatross, Creswell,
Nirimba, Leeuwin, Stirling or the Patrol Boat Base at Lombrum, in
Papua New Guinea. They were also responsible for medical and surgical
nursing and for on-the-job training of medical branch sailors and
Shiela McClemans -
Director of the WRANS
In The Royal Australian Navy Today
The WRANs and
the RANNS were disbanded again in 1984 when women were fully integrated
into the Royal Australian Navy. Women are now serving in almost every
area of day to day naval operations at sea on front-line warships
and also ashore.
are at present Commading RAN Ships and Establishments and female sailors
have also seen Active Service abroad.