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In July 1941 the Australian Army received approval to recruit women into an auxiliary force to be known as the Australian Women's Army Service or AWAS. On 13 August 1941, the War Cabinet approved in principle the formation of the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS).

The Army started to recruit single women aged 18 to 45 years old in August 1941 through the Women's National Voluntary Registry. Initially widows with dependent children were allowed to enlist but this ceased in 1943. The Australian Women's Army Service  became operational in October 1941.

Preference was given to women with signals and administrative skills. They were paid wages equal to two-thirds that of their male equivalent. They were restricted to service within Australia.

The AWAS had their own rank and administrative arrangements and they reported to the Chief of General Staff (CGS). The Commanding Officer or "Controller" of the AWAS was equivalent to a Lieutenant Colonel.

Approximately 24,000 women enlisted in the AWAS during WW2. 3,618 of these served with the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA) and 3,600 with the Corps of Signals.

On 15 November 1944, the Australian Government had approved the sending of AWAS overseas. By 1945 some women were serving at the Advanced Headquarters in Lae, while some other were sent to Hollandia..


AWAS attached to the Australian Special Wireless Group AWAS operate the Australian Officer's Club in the Seaview Hotel, The Strand, Townsville AWAS Camp at the top of Kuran Street, Chermside, Brisbane
AWAS operated the No. 79?? Anti Aircraft Searchlight Battery at Pallarenda Beach, Townsville AWAS in No. 11 Australian Cypher Section
in the garage at 21 Henry Street, Ascot
AWAS at 4 Australian Ordnance Vehicle Park, AIF 4AOVP
Kessels Road, Mount Gravatt, Brisbane
AWAS attached to the Australian Special Wireless Group AWAS used the historic residence "Fernside" in East Street, Toowoomba Isa Fellows (nee Hicks), an AWAS during WW2
Kathleen Deady, An AWAS during WW2    



"The Australian Army"
By Jeffrey Grey


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This page first produced 24 November 2001

This page last updated 23 January 2020