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    Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) officers, 2 April 1966, courtesy of Australian War Memorial.
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Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) (1951 - 1985)

From
April 1951
To
31 January 1985
Occupations
Armed services organisation
Alternative Names
  • Womens Australian Army Corps (WAAC) (former name)
Website
http://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/structure/awas.htm

Summary

The Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) was established in April 1951 to help overcome a manpower shortage. During the late 1970s female soldiers began to be integrated into the Army at large and in early 1985, the WRAAC was disbanded. The last Officers' Cadet School parade (6 December 1984) on the WRAAC School parade ground saw the Officer Cadets and the WRAAC Contingent marching to the strains of "Soldiers of the Queen". Prior to the formal closing of the gates the WRAAC School flag was ceremoniously lowered and slow marched "off", to be folded and handed over to the Chief Instructor of the WRAAC School for safe keeping. The gates, which had been repainted for the occasion, were then closed by Major Diane McVicker of the WRAAC School and Mrs Gwen Ellis - sister of Colonel Best.

The WRAAC Prayer was also included in the ceremony:

Almighty God, we ask you to reveal yourself in the fullness of your love to all who reach out to you. Help us to recognise ourselves as your children. Let the day soon dawn when we will allow your love to right every wrong.

Give us the courage and self control to play our part as members of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps to help your kingdom come on earcth. Lead us in the pathway of life as your own wisdom and love see best: we are anxious only to do your will.

We ask you to give us the grace to rise above temptation, to be patient when tired, to be kind and helpful towards others.

To all members of our Army grant the special blessing that we need. Preserve us from selfishness. Bless every member of our Corps, our families and friends.

We come to you as children to our Father, asking these and all other blessing, in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
Amen.

Details

Events

25 March 1950
Submission made to the Military Board, with consideration being given for the reintroduction of women into the Australian Regular Army (ARA) and Citizens Military Forces (CMF)
15 July 1950
Cabinet approved the reintroduction of the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS). The Service was to be raised as an entirely separate unit, and not integrated with the male CMF.
1 December 1950
Approval given for the enlistment of 250 personnel.
February 1951
Decision made to discontinue AAMWS as a separate Service.
12 February 1951 - 15 November 1957
Lieutenant Colonel Kathleen Best, a former matron of the AANS, commenced duty as the first Director at AHO.
23 April 1951
Major Lucy Crane appointed Assistant Director of the WAAC.
23 April 1951
WO Pat Rawlings became the first Chief Instructor for the recruit training course.
23 April 1951 - 23 April 1961
Colonel Sybil Irving appointed as first Honorary Colonel of WAAC.
June 1951
The prefix 'Royal' granted by His Majestry King George VI, in recognition of the AWAS wartime service, thereby becoming Womens Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC).
June 1951
Approval given for defining two Corps of the women's side of the ARA. 1. RAANC and 2. WAAC.
6 December 1951
Approval given for the introduction of the WRAAC in to the Citizens Military Forces (CMF).
1952
Major Crane appointed Chief Instructor for the Officer Refresher Course. Later appointed as Chief Instructor for the Officer's Qualifying Course held for Non-Commissioned Officers who had previously been servicewomen.
September 1952
Announcement that the period of engagement (3 or 6 years) and training for women would be brought in line with their male counterparts.
September 1952
Lieutenant-Colonel Best was promoted to Colonel.
1 January 1953 - 1985
Her Royal Highness, The Princess Margaret, C.I., G.C.V.O. appointed by Her Majesty The Queen as Colonel-in-Chief of the WRAAC.
1954
Queen Elizabeth 11 visited Australia. WRAAC personnel participated in events around the country.
5 December 1955 - 2 December 1957
Colonel Dawn Jackson appointed deputy director of WRAAC
February 1956
An alliance between the WRAAC and the Womens Royal Army Corps (WRAC), approved by Her Majestry the Queen.
26 April 1956
Colonel Irving reappointed as Honorary Colonel
October 1956
WRAAC and RAANC personnel participated as usherettes etc. at the Melbourne Olympic Games.
15 November 1957
Colonel Best died aged 47 years.
2 December 1957 - February 1972
Colonel Dawn Jackson appointed director of WRAAC
August 1958
Approval given for the adoption by the WRAAC of a Corps flag.
1959
The main gates at WRAAC School were designed and named in honour of Colonel Best - "the Kathleen Best Memorial Gateway".
18 May 1959
The Corps recognised as a permanent part of the Defence structure.
14 December 1959
Members of the WRAAC became eligible to contribute to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefit Fund.
23 April 1961
Colonel Irving retires as Honorary Colonel.
26 April 1961 - April 1966
Lieutenant Colonel May Douglas appointed Honorary Colonel.
3 February 1967 - 1 June 1985
Lady Helen Cutler appointed Honorary Colonel.
November 1967
First detachment of WRAAC on overseas duty to Singapore. Seven WRAAC posted for 12 months service with 121 Signals Squadron.
23 February 1972 - 4 July 1977
Colonel Kathleen Fowler appointed Director of Corps.
24 March 1973
Honorary Colonel Sybil H Irving dies.
1974
Married women with children under 16 years are permitted to serve.
5 July 1977 - 14 Mar. 1979
Colonel Barbara Maxwell appointed Director
1979
Posting of Director abolished.
March 1979 - 1981
Colonel Dulcie Verinder appointed Head of Corps.
1980
Graduates are no longer allocated to WRAAC, but rather to the corps in which they are to serve.
1981 - 12 November 1982
Colonel Pam Smith replaces Colonel Verinder
12 November 1982
Lieutenant Colonel Pam Smith appointed Service Women's Advisor to CGS.
12 November 1982
Colonel Margaret Fleming appointed to replace Colonel Smith.
1983
WRAAC members swap their buttons and badges for those of the Corps in which they served.
5 December 1984
Final course of Recruits and Officer Cadets march out of WRAAC School.
31 January 1985
WRAAC School disbanded. Female officer cadets attend OCS Portsea.
13 May 1985
The only member of the WRAAC to serve through the entire life of the Corps was WO2 Joyce Cole (Hogan) who retired aged 60 years. WO2 was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and the Defence Force Service Medal and Bar
1986
Female cadets are trained at the Royal Military College Duntroon or the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA).

Sources used to compile this entry: WRAAC Association, A Stroll down memory lane, 2001, 38 pp; Women's Royal Australian Army Corps Association, http://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/structure/awas.htm accessed 2002-11-24.

Related entries

Related Cultural Artefacts

Related Women

Archival resources

Australian War Memorial Research Centre

  • Archbishop Daniel Mannix, Catholic Chaplain General of the Australian Army, c. 1945, P03081.001; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Army Minister visits WRAAC School DPR/TV/1513, 12 July 1972, F04559; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Australian servicewomen's memorial, 1999, ART90968; Ferguson, Anne; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Bomford, Janette M.(b: 1953), 1951 - 1984, MSS1645; Bomford, Janette M; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • The canteen at the Australian Army Canteens service soldiers club, Royal Military College, Duntroon., 23 November 1953, 134946; Hunt, V; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Collar badge : Womens Royal Australian Army Corps, REL25025.002; K G Luke Australia Pty Ltd; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Employment of WRAAC, 1961 - 1970, AWM90; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • First WRAAC, Women's Royal Australian Army Corps, 1951 - 1953, F03488; Fletcher, Joan; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Hat badge : Womens Royal Australian Army Corps, 1960s, REL25025.001; K G Luke Australia Pty Ltd; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Operation clean up DPR/TV/566, February 1967, F03844; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • A pre-dinner chat for Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) officers, SMT/66/0042/EC; Smith or Smither; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Private Pam Armstrong of the Women's Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) 12 Company, works over a large oven by using a butterbox, CHA/71/0120/CC; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Two members of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC), May 1957, BEN/57/0051/HQ; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • War Establishments and Amendments - [Colleges and Schools:], 1947 - 1952, AWM54; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • WRAAC arrive in Singapore DPR/TV/743, November 1967, F03949; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • WRAAC drill at Queenscliff training company, F03492; Fletcher, Joan; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details

National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office

  • Kathleen Best Memorial Gates, 1959, MT1131/1/2; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details

National Archives of Australia, National Office

  • Accounting stocktake - officer-in-charge's schedules, 1965 - 1971, PP580/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Audit reports - general - army audit reports, 1964 - 1974, PP580/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • History of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps, 1951 - 1984, A7484/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Kathleen Best Memorial (Gates) and portrait, 1957 - 1984, A7481/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Miscellaneous historical notes etc from Women's Royal Australian Army Corps school and Women's Royal Australian Army Corps directories, 1963 - 1986, A7484/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Opening of the Kathleen Best Memorial Gates, 6 November 1959, A7483/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • RAASC - supplies - expense supplies requests, 1970 - 1975, PP580/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Representations for grant of title of "Royal" to the Women's Australian Army corps, 1951, A462/16; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Speech by Colonel Sybil H IRVING, 1959, Control Symbol 2; Irving, Sybil Howy (1897 - 1973); National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • WRAAC [Women's Royal Australian Army Corps], 1951 - 1984, A7481/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details

National Archives of Australia, Perth Office

  • Accounting stocktake - officer-in-charge's schedules, 1965 - 1971, PP580/1; National Archives of Australia, Perth Office. Details
  • Displays - General WRAAC Corps Day, 1967 - 1975, PP580/1; National Archives of Australia, Perth Office. Details
  • Establishments and strengths - general, 1965 - 1972, PP580/1; National Archives of Australia, Perth Office. Details
  • Establishments and strengths - general - CMF units, 1968 - 1972, PP580/1; National Archives of Australia, Perth Office. Details
  • Pay and allowances CMF - general - additional training, 1969 - 1975, PP580/1; National Archives of Australia, Perth Office. Details
  • Training - military - general - period of CMF training, 1967 - 1975, PP580/1; National Archives of Australia, Perth Office. Details

National Archives of Australia, Sydney Office

  • The Women's Royal Australian Army Corps, c. 1959, A7665/1; National Archives of Australia, Sydney Office. Details

Digital resources

Title
Untitled
Type
Image

Details

See also

Title
Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) officers
Type
Image
Date
2 April 1966
Control
SMT/66/0042/EC
Source
Australian War Memorial

Details

Anne Heywood

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