The involvement of Australian women in each war is closely connected to the role in society women played at different times of the war. On the home front, women dealt with the consequences of war like managing children and the grief and trauma of losing loved ones. Many women were also actively involved as nurses and in other active service duties, and contributed more actively to war efforts through military service.
At the outbreak of world war 1 the expected role of a woman was to manage the home and bring up children. It was very uncommon for a women to have a job, apart from domestic serving roles. The number of woman working outside the home increased slightly during the war with jobs relating to the jobs of food and clothing opening up. But when the men came back from war the women were expected to give them up. Female doctors weren’t even allowed to take part as the government thought they wouldn’t be able to handle the conditions or the physical demands. Nearly 3 000 Australian women enlisted in World War One and served as nurses.
In world war 2 woman were treated with much more respect and were even encouraged to join military services. More than 70,000 women served in women’s auxiliary services which included the. – Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF)
– Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS)
– Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS).
These services were not combat forces, as government was determined that no female auxiliary forces would serve outside Australia. As Australia got more involved with the bombings some women were called on to serve overseas, to work as nurses. Nursing could be a dangerous service during the war. Many nurses were stationed in Singapore, which was a base for the Allied forces. As the Japanese closed in on Singapore in early 1942, 65 Nurses were aboard the ship Vyner Brooke. It was bombed and sunk by the Japanese and twelve nurses drowned. Another group of 22 nurses captured by the Japanese, were marched off the beach into shallow water and killed by machine gun fire. Only one survived by pretending to be dead. Some other common jobs woman did in WW2 was drivers, cooks, signallers, and radio officers.
One lesser known role women played WW2 was that of a spy. One famous well known example is Nancy Wake. She was born in New Zealand but grew up in Neutral Bay. After witnessing horrific Nazi violence in Vienna, Nancy declared she would do anything in her power to rid Europe of the Nazi presence. What began as a courier job developed into a highly successful escape network for allied soldiers. Wake slowly became enmeshed with French efforts against the Germans, and worked to get people out of France. By 1943, Wake was the most wanted person with a 5-million price on her head. Therefore, it became necessary for her to leave France.
Overall I would much rather be a women contributing to war efforts in world war 2 because they were greater respected and were allowed to contribute in a much more meaningful way making a much more significant difference to the war effort.