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Women In Service

 In the First World War, nurses served as an integral part of the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF), being deployed to Egypt and Lemnos during the Gallipoli campaign, in England, France and Belgium in support of the fighting on the Western front, and in Greece, Palestine, Mesopotamia and India.

Arrival of the first detachment of nurses on Lemnos 1915 

Arrival of the first detachment of nurses on Lemnos, 1915

Australian nurses worked in field hospitals and on medical ships anchored off shore near battlefields not accessible by land. There were also those who formed part of Voluntary Aid Detachments. 

Bluebirds aboard HMAT Kanowa

The Bluebirds-aboard-HMAT-Kanowa

The ‘Bluebirds’ for example, were a group of Australian civilian nurses who sailed for France in 1916 –  so named for their distinctive blue uniforms.

Despite serving with distinction in France, they have still not received official recognition in Australia.

According to the Australian Department of Defence, 2,562 AANS nurses served abroad between 1914 and 1919, with a further 423 who worked in military hospitals in Australia. Of these 29 died on active service.