The Significance Of Australian Women's Contribution To The War Effort History Essay

964 words - 4 pages

Australian women had a highly significant contribution to the war effort through their roles in nursing, charity, jobs and enlistment. They were involved in activities on both the front lines and the home front and were an integral part of Australia’s victory in World War I.

One of the main ways that women contributed to the war effort was through their role outside of Australia as nurses. In the first world war women were recruited to serve as nurses in the AIF. They served during the Gallipoli campaign, in England, France and Belgium in support of the fighting on the Western front, and in Greece Salonika, Palestine, Mesopotamia and India. In total there were 2139 nurses abroad and 423 in military hospitals either working behind the lines in field hospitals or on hospital ships and trains. During the many voyages the nurses administered vaccinations to the soldiers, helped perform operations and also trained male orderlies. When they arrived at the battle locations they were often forced to create ‘tent hospitals’ when buildings were not available, which resulted in extremely poor conditions. There were diseases like dysentery and gangrene and injuries like frostbite and there was also scarce food, water, medical supplies or sanitation. Overall, the nurses had 29 casualties but saved many more soldiers’ lives. There were many brave nurses involved in World War I, such as Sister Claire Trestrail who in Belgium on the 8th October1914 moved 130 patients out of a hospital to safety while it was under attack with little regard to her personal safety and only just escaping herself. The important contributions of some of the other nurses are recognised by Military Medals awarded to four nurses who rescued patients on the Western Front in 1917; Sisters Clare Deacon, Dorothy Cawood and Alice Ross-King and Staff Nurse Mary Derrer. These examples demonstrate the bravery shown by nurses on the Western Front and their important role in World War I.

Furthermore, another part of Australian women’s contribution to the war effort was through charity organisations. During World War I upwards of 200 women’s charity groups were created for the soldiers serving in the war. Women organised door-knocking and fetes to raise funds and also created fundraising events and touring concerts. Women were heavily encouraged to join these voluntary organisations and take part in the fundraising or create clothes or food to send to the troops. An example of one of these organisations was the Australian Red Cross which was established in 1914. It created packs of ‘luxury’ items with soap, toiletries, food and games and they also sent clothing and medical supplies to the soldiers on the front lines. They also found homes for wounded soldiers and gave financial support to families. Another organisation that women were involved in was the Australian Comforts Fund created in 1916. It created ‘comfort boxes’ for...

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