Written by: Melanie Wong
This year marks the centenary anniversary of the end of World War I or the Great War, which Australia and a host of another nations participated in. The story of the ANZAC soldiers is one that is well-known, but there is another side of the narrative; more than 3000 Australian women served in World War I as nurses, yet their story has often been forgotten.*
Many Australian women served with the Australian Army Nursing Service or similar allied institutions such as Red Cross, posted in Gallipoli, the Western Front at France and Belgium and in Egypt and Lemnos Island, Greece. Nurses had to deal with horrifying environments to treat the injured, from poor weather to gas attacks and the traumas of artillery bombardments. Faced with decreasing morale and the multitude of injuries that thousands of soldiers endured, these nurses are the quiet, unsung heroes of the ANZAC legend.
While ANZAC Day commemorates the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who were part of the Gallipoli expedition, it has come to recognise all Australian and New Zealand soldiers who have served and given their lives to conflicts such as World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. Nurses were exposed to harsh, battlefield environments, as well as being prisoners of war and suffering from a variety of health problems upon returning home.
We will never forget the sacrifices of the nurses in the military, the incredible women who were willing to risk their lives to save others’. We thank them for service and continue to remember them.
Lest We Forget.
*Note: We absolutely acknowledge the wonderful male nurses who also served however as is known, the majority of nurses during this time were female.