WRANS Memorial Service

Published on ABIS Kathy Tuddenham (author and photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Harman, ACT

Topic(s): HMAS Harman, Memorial Service

Captain Michele Miller, RAN, delivers the address at the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) Memorial Service at HMAS Harman on 19 October 2013. (photo: ABIS Kathy Tuddenham)
Captain Michele Miller, RAN, delivers the address at the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) Memorial Service at HMAS Harman on 19 October 2013.

The vital contribution women have made to the Navy was remembered at a recent Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) Memorial Service at HMAS Harman.

Captain Michele Miller, Chief of Staff at Navy Strategic Command addressed the service. She said that women have played an active role in the Navy since the 1940s, however it wasn’t until 1985 that the first sea going billets were made available to women.

“I still regard with some amazement that it was only in 1969 that we allowed women to stay in the WRANS if they married, and in 1974 that we stopped automatically discharging women from the WRANS when they fell pregnant.”

“Times have changed though and it is important on days like today that we take pause, remember the past and celebrate the friendships founded on the shared experience,” said Captain Miller.

It was at HMAS Harman that the WRANS began their service and cemented their place in history 72 years ago. At that time only non combat roles were available, such as the very first Telegraphists who served at the Royal Australian Navy Wireless/Transmitting station at HMAS Harman in the early 1940s.

Currently women serve in almost every area of Naval day to day operations, both ashore and at sea. Many have seen active service overseas, and female officers now command shore establishments and serve on Navy ships.

Captain Miller said serving in the Navy is not such an unusual choice like it used to be, and perhaps one day her daughter might consider a career in the military.

“The Navy provides a career with broad prospects, flexibility, and personal enhancement. Ultimately is a life of service and valuable camaraderie founded upon a path worn smooth and firm by the thousands of steps made by women who’ve gone before,” said Captain Miller.

Lieutenant Mary Rose Chapman and Mrs Norah Tuckwell at the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) Memorial Service at HMAS Harman on 19 October 2013.

Lieutenant Mary Rose Chapman and Mrs Norah Tuckwell at the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) Memorial Service at HMAS Harman on 19 October 2013.