Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

Skip to content
  • Click to view this Image

    Wing Officer Gwen Stark, Staff Officer WAAAF, c. 1945, courtesy of Australian War Memorial.
    Details

Exhibitions

  • Faith, Hope and Charity Australian Women and Imperial Honours: 1901-1989

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Woman

  • Trove

Stark, Amy Gwendoline (1910 - 1994)

OBE

Born
3 April 1910
Australia
Died
1994
Occupation
Aviator and Servicewoman
Alternative Names
  • Caldwell, Gwen (married name)

Summary

Gwen Stark gained her pilot's licence shortly before the outbreak of World War II and was one of the first women appointed to a position in the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force. She served in the first instance as assistant section officer and later as recruiting officer for New South Wales. Before the war, she was active in the Australian Women's Flying Club, which became the New South Wales branch of the Women's Air Training Corps, and was its commandant in 1940. After World War II she went to Europe and worked with the Berlin Air Lift at a Royal Air Force station in Germany for several months. In 1964 she became the federal president of the Australian Women's Pilots' Association and was appointed to the Order of the British Empire on 8 June 1968 for her services to aviation.

Details

Gwen Stark, a kindergarten teacher who played 'A' grade hockey and basketball as well as being a member of the Girl Guide movement, obtained her pilots 'A' licence (No. 3132) on 10 July 1939 from the Royal Aero Club of New South Wales. A member of the Australian Women's Flying Club, Gwen was a commander of one of the squadrons and president from 1940 until 1941.

She volunteered to enlist in the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) and was appointed as assistant section officer on probation from 10 March 1941.

Joyce Thomson writes in her book The WAAAF in Wartime Australia that after supervising the recruiting of the first airwomen enrolled in Sydney, Gwen was posted to WAAAF Training Depot to join the short administrative course given to the initial group of officers. She returned to Sydney as WAAAF staff officer, RAAF Headquarters, Central Area, Point Piper. Gwen was posted to various senior appointments, including staff officer, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Headquarters, North-Eastern Area, during Japanese air raids on Townsville.

Gwen Stark was discharged from the WAAAF on 8 August 1946 having obtained the rank of Wing Officer. In that year she helped establish the WAAAF branch of the RAAFA (NSW Division). She was the first president and from 1961 until her death in 1994 was patron of the branch.

On 8 June 1968, under the name Amy Gwendoline Caldwell, she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) for her services to aviation.

Sources used to compile this entry: Mann, Sheila, The girls were up there too; Australian women in aviation, Department of Aviation, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, ACT, 1986, 24 pp; Thomson, Joyce A, The WAAAF in Wartime Australia, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., 1992, 422 pp.

Related entries

Membership

Related Organisations

Archival resources

Australian War Memorial Research Centre

  • Air Commodore F. W. Lukes (centre), Director WAAAF, Group Officer Clare Stevenson (standing, third from left). Seated on the left Squadron Officer Gwen Stark, 1942, VIC1353; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Assistant Section Officer Gwen Stark (centre) giving last minute instructions to Miss Clarice Taylor (left) and Miss Monica Bullen (right), 20 March 1941, P03224.001; Sydney Morning Herald And The Home; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Clare Stevenson and Gwen Stark, 1944, P00691.001; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Formal group portrait of officers of the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force, c. 1943, P02390.005; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Lady Gowrie, Honorary Air Commodore, WAAAF, inspects photographs on the wall at St Anne's Barrack, 1943, NEA0179; Harrison, John T; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • [Miss Gwen Stark's flying days Camden Aerodrome 1937-1938], 1937 - 1938, F04786; Stark, Amy Gwendoline (1910 - 1994), Stark, Gwen; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Nancy Bird Walton and Gwen Stark, 1940, 044462; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Nancy Bird Walton, Margaret Wakehurst and Gwen Stark, 1940, 044624; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Nancy Bird Walton, Margaret Wakehurst and Gwen Stark, 1940, 044627; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Nancy Bird Walton, Margaret Wakehurst and Gwen Stark, 1940, 044626; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Portrait of Squadron Officer Gwen Stark, 1943, VIC0785; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Portrait of Wing Officer Gwen Stark, 1945, VIC0819; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Wing Officer Margaret Blackwood (at rear); Director WAAAF; Wing Officer Dorothy Hawthorn (front); Wing Officer Mary Rawlins; Wing Officer Gwen Stark, 1945, VIC0933; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • The Women's [Australian] Flying Club, 1940, F04677; Stark, Amy Gwendoline (1910 - 1994), Stark, Gwen; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details

National Archives of Australia, National Office

  • Stark, Amy Gwendoline, 1939 - 1948, 2002/05090863; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details

National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room

  • Biographical cuttings on Amy Starkie Caldwell, pioneer in the WAAAF; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

Digital resources

Title
Wing Officer Gwen Stark, Staff Officer WAAAF
Type
Image
Date
c. 1945
Control
VIC0819
Source
Australian War Memorial

Details

See also

Title
Australian Women's Flying Club
Type
Image
Date
1940
Control
044627
Source
Australian War Memorial

Details

Title
Group portrait of four "original" WAAAF officers with the Director WAAAF Group Officer Clare Stevenson
Type
Image
Date
c. April 1945
Control
VIC0933
Source
Australian War Memorial

Details

Rosemary Francis and Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0289b.htm

The Australian Women's Register is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124