Australian Women in WW2

Discussion in 'The Women of WW2' started by spidge, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. spidge


    A very good government website about all aspects of Australians at War.

    There are many sub headings to each section.

    All in - leaving home

    All in - 'leaving home'

    Recruitment posters

    The lives of many Australian women changed dramatically between 1940 and 1945 when there was pressure for young women to participate in the war effort, particularly in the armed services.
    A few hundred Australian nurses had served both during the Boer War and World War I – nursing being the only available service role for Australian women at that time. It was not until World War II that women were asked to serve in non-nursing roles.
    During 1941, it became apparent that women would need to be employed in the armed services so that servicemen in non-combatant roles could be released to combat units. Brightly coloured recruitment posters encouraged young women to join up and more than 66,000 of them enlisted in the three services – just under 7% of the nearly 1 million Australians who served.
  2. Pike

    Pike Senior Member

    I noticed the headstone of an Australian nurse from the 1st World War in one of our local cemeteries,also a chap from a Dentistry unit.
  3. Tonym

    Tonym WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I noticed the headstone of an Australian nurse from the 1st World War in one of our local cemeteries,also a chap from a Dentistry unit.


    Would be very interested in the name of the cemetery and the name of the Australian Nurse and perhaps a photo of her grave if you have one.

    Regards, Tony
  4. spidge


    I noticed the headstone of an Australian nurse from the 1st World War in one of our local cemeteries,also a chap from a Dentistry unit.

    Hi Pike,

    Are the graves/cemetery near a WW1 military hospital?

  5. Pike

    Pike Senior Member


    The headstone IS in a cemetery near a WW1 military hospital,the cemetery also has Belgium and French soldiers buried there and they are named on the War Memorial.
    Next time i'm up there i'll jot the nurses name down.
  6. Pike

    Pike Senior Member

    A report appearing in the Leicester Daily Mercury,Tuesday 26 November 1918.

    Australian V.A.D.'s Death.


    Military Funeral At Leicester.


    The funeral of Kathleen Adele Brennan of New South Wales,who came over to this country as a V.A.D.[Voluntary Aid Detatchment]Nurse and died on Sunday [24 November 1918]at North Evington War Hospital,where she had been engaged for two years,took place at Welford Road Cemetery this morning with military honours.

    The coffin,which was covered with a Union Jack,was borne to the cemetery on a gun carriage,followed by a large procession of the R.A.M.C.[Royal Army Medical Corps] staff and V.A.D. nurses from North Evington and the Base Hospitals.

    The body was interred in the soldiers corner of the Cemetery,close to the graves of some Australian Soldiers,and the service was conducted by the Reverand F.R. Lindeboom.
    Lieutenant Brennan of the Australian Forces[brother]and three of the deceased's Australian V.A.D. friends at the Hospital were the principal mourners,and amoung others present were Colonel L.K.Harrison[Base Hospital]Captain Moffat Holmes[North Evington],Major Slight,and Captains Mason,Payne and Hedley,of the R.A.M.C,Miss Burrow[Matron at North Evington],and Mr D.Michael,Australian Commissioner.

    A party from Glen Parva Barracks fired three volleys and the Last Post was sounded by R.A.M.C. buglers.
    Floral tributes were sent by the four Australian V.A.D. nurses at the Hospital,R.A.M.C. officers,the R.A.M.C. staff,the V.A.D. staff,and the maids at North Evington Hospital,and Miss Michael.

    Kathleen Adele Brennan's name is inscribed on the Memorial Wall in the World War 1 Military Cemetery.She was buried in grave number U.O1.198 just north of the Memorial Cross bearing the Sword of Sacrifice,where the grave is marked in the lawn in row 1 by Tablet 6,7,8........:poppy:
  7. Pike

    Pike Senior Member

    Kathleen Adele Brennan,

    Kathleen Adele Brennan was born at Sydney on 15th November 1882 and died at 5th Battalion General Hospital Leicester on 24th November 1918 while serving as a member of the Australian Army Nursing Service.

    She was the eldest of five children.It is a family tradition that Kathleen Adele and her siblings agreed that while all wanted to volunteer to serve in the Great War,one girl and one boy would have to stay in Australia as their parents were elderly.

    Kathleen and her brother William,[a Lieutenant in the 12th Australian Light Horse who died of wounds on 20th April 1917 and is buried in Palastine 8 Gaza War Cemetery]both paid the ultimate sacrifice.Father,Lieutenant John Clive Brennan of 4th Battalion 1st AIF was wounded in action on 14th September and invalided over to England.

    He recovered and returned to the front shortly before Armistice Day but had indifferent health and died at the age of 50.

    Kathleen Adele was a VAD,a member of a voluntary aid detatchment,with the Australian Red Cross.
    She was part of a special detatchment of probationers recruited to serve in British Military Hospitals during the War.
    She left Australia in September 1916 on the ss Osterley and on arrival in England was posted to the 5th Northern General Hospital in Leicester where she served until her death from septic pericarditis following influenza.

    Her grave is number 3 in the Military Section of the Leicester[Welford Road]Cemetery....:poppy:
  8. spidge


    Great info Pike - Thank you.
  9. spidge


    Just did a bit of research and came up with a photo of Kathleen in her uniform and a photo of her funeral procession.

    Kathleen Adele Brennan VAD WW1.003.jpg

    Informal portrait of Kathleen Adele Brennan, Australian Red Cross Society, member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment which left Australia for United Kingdom aboard HMAT Osterley, on 27 September 1916, in a VAD outdoor uniform. The uniform includes dark blue skirt and jacket, bonnet like cap, white shirt and black tie, black stockings and black lace up shoes. Brennan died of influenza at Leicester, England on 24 November 1918.

    Kathleen Adele Brennan Funeral Procession.004.jpg

    The Military funeral procession of Kathleen Adele Brennan, Australian Red Cross Society, member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Brennan died of influenza at Leicester, England on 24 November 1918.

    This Intrepid Band: Australian VADs

    Australian girls being barred from nursing in their own hospitals and wishing to do this form of work had to do it in the British hospitals in England and France. That they carried out their duties most successfully is evident from the reports of the Matrons of the several hospitals. I regret to report that Miss Kathleen Adele Brennan (N.S.W.) who had done excellent work, died on the 24th November 1918 while serving at the North Evington War Hospital, Leicester.

    She is also mentioned here by the Friends of Welford Road Cemetery.

    The Friends of Welford Road Ceme

    She is also mentioned here on her brothers AIF history who was killed in Gaza Palestine.
  10. Pike

    Pike Senior Member

    Nice one spidge.
  11. Pike

    Pike Senior Member

    Kathleen Adele Brennan,

    Australian Red Cross Society,Voluntary Aid Detachment.

    The Military Funeral Procession.

    Kathleen Adele Brennans resting place,plot 3 in the Military section at Welford Road Cemetery,Leicester.

    Adeles name inscribed on the War Memorial.

    View of the Military Section with Adeles resting place bottom left.
  12. Tonym

    Tonym WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Geoff & Pike

    Thank you both

  13. Pike

    Pike Senior Member


    Kathleen Adele Brennan,buried number 3 plot,bottom left hand corner.Military section of Welford Road Cemetry Leicester.
  14. Tonym

    Tonym WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Excellent pike

  15. Tonym

    Tonym WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Spidge & Pike

    FDorgive me but I am a little confused. All your previous details refer to this unfortunate lady being an Australian Red Cross VAD however my confusion was partially solved whern I found:-
    Name:BRENNANInitials:K ANationality:AustralianRank:NurseRegiment/Service:Australian Army Nursing ServiceDate of Death:24/11/1918Casualty Type:Commonwealth War DeadGrave/Memorial Reference:Screen Wall. O1. 198.Cemetery:LEICESTER (WELFORD ROAD) CEMETERY

    Are Australian VADs officially classified as Army Nurses?

    My confusion stems from the fact that I already have on record a CWGC Certificate for MEMBER LOUISA RIGGALL , Australian Red Cross Society. What is the difference?

    No critiscism just confused.

  16. Pike

    Pike Senior Member


    I'm not sure if Australian VADs were classified as Army Nurses,but i'd guess they were,
    All i know is from the 1918 local Newspaper article and information i found displayed at the Friends of Welford Road Cemetry office,it seems Kathleen came over to England as a VAD,and like her Australian companions that attended her funeral were all still considered VADS,

    Iv'e a couple of interesting photo copies that the staff at Welford sorted me out,one is A4 size of Kathleen sitting on the grass in full Red Cross uniform,another same size shows a relative of Kathleens pointing to her inscribed name on the Screen Wall at the back of the Military section of the cemetry,you can see the inscription on my photo but not on the A4 size photo copy,so i'll try to get the rest of my photos reduced in size as thats probably why i could'nt put them all up last night.:D
  17. kjharris

    kjharris Nurse historian

    Hi there,
    I know this is an old discussion, but thought those who look at the thread might like to know that there was an error made between the grave registration report of KA Brennan and the typed up Register. The grave registration clearly shows Miss Brennan as a Red Cross VAD; the register does not. I have applied to the CWGC to have the change made in their database.

    Members of the Red Cross were not members of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) unless they were trained professional nurses who formally enlisted. Adele (as she was known) was not a trained nurse and not a member of the AANS. The AANS had no VADs; it did for a short period of time have a number of ward assistants but these only served on a hospital ship for one voyage.

    Kirsty Harris

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