Australian Women’s Army Service (A.W.A.S.)

In August 1941, the Women’s National Voluntary Registry started to recruit single women between the ages of 18 and 45 to serve in an auxiliary force known as the Australian Women’s Army Service, releasing men for more forward roles. 

The Government had decreed that no female service personnel would serve outside Australia and they were assigned non-combat roles such as clerks, cooks, typists and drivers, but they were only paid two-thirds of their male equivalent’s wage.

As the need for more skilled women increased, they received training in most Army service areas, many working in ordnance, artillery, intelligence and signals.  Towards the end of WWII, women were called on to serve overseas particularly in New Guinea. The 500 women selected for posting were prepared for jungle conditions, vaccinated and given extra physical training. From 29 September 1941, when the first Controller was appointed, until the cessation of hostilities in August 1945, 24,026 women enlisted as volunteers in the Service.