Remembering Navy Women

Published on LEUT Kiz Burtenshaw (author), LSIS Lee-Anne Mack (author), SGT William Guthrie (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Harman

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN (left), accompanied by Commanding Officer HMAS Harman, Commander Jayne Craig, RAN (right), with members of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service Association (from left), Mrs Elinor Swan, Mrs Judith Rowe and Mrs Jean Hysen at a service held at the WRANS Memorial, HMAS Harman, 18 October 2014. (photo: SGT William Guthrie)
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN (left), accompanied by Commanding Officer HMAS Harman, Commander Jayne Craig, RAN (right), with members of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service Association (from left), Mrs Elinor Swan, Mrs Judith Rowe and Mrs Jean Hysen at a service held at the WRANS Memorial, HMAS Harman, 18 October 2014.

Women’s Royal Australian Navy (WRAN) and Royal Australian Navy members, both past and present, come together in October each year at HMAS Harman to remember and honour the sacrifices and accomplishments that women have made through their service to Australia.

The WRANS memorial, which was dedicated on 1 July 2003, 62 years after 14 young women started their first posting at the RAN Wireless/Transmission Station Canberra, stands within the front gates of the base.

This year those who gathered were addressed by Senior Naval Historical Officer, Mr John Perryman, who outlined the Navy’s significant anniversaries being commemorated this year and the role that women have played in the history of the Royal Australian Navy.

Senior Naval Historical Officer, Mr Duncan 'John' Perryman, CSM, delivers a brief history on the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service to members and guests at HMAS Harman, ACT.

Senior Naval Historical Officer, Mr Duncan 'John' Perryman, CSM, delivers a brief history on the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service to members and guests at HMAS Harman, ACT.

“The 4th of August this year marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the World War One. It is a little known fact that most of the RAN’s fleet was at sea, battle ready and patrolling their assigned war stations when news of the war was announced. Women were, with few exceptions, largely confined to supporting the war effort from the home front,” Mr Perryman said.

“Encouragingly, much has changed since then, and you may be pleased to learn that when the frigate HMAS Anzac visits Gallipoli next April to participate in the 100th anniversary commemorations it will do so under the command of Commander Belinda Wood.”

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, laid a wreath on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy and reiterated the important contribution, made by past and present serving members and the significance the role of women.

“The proud history of women serving in the Royal Australian Navy started with the WRANs and today is reflected in women able to serve in every role in the Navy.

“There are women from the rank of seaman through to rear admiral, performing all manner of tasks at sea, ashore and in the air, and in operational theatres around the globe,” he said.

The WRANS served from 1941 to 1946 and then from 1951 until 1985 when they were fully integrated into the Royal Australian Navy. To incorporate all those who have served the WRANS - Naval Women’s Association (ACT) was established on 20 October 2003. 

Commanding Officer HMAS Harman, Commander Jayne Craig, was at the event spoke of the importance of remembering and honouring our past and present.

Commanding Officer HMAS Harman, Commander Jayne Craig, RAN, pays her respects after laying a wreath at the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service Memorial at HMAS Harman.

Commanding Officer HMAS Harman, Commander Jayne Craig, RAN, pays her respects after laying a wreath at the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service Memorial at HMAS Harman.

“There were representatives across the entire history of Women in the Royal Australian Navy. The memorial service is to remember the contribution not just by the ladies here today but by all women who have served in the Navy and those who continue to serve.” Commander Craig said.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143148.