About This Unit
Australian Army Nursing Service WW2 (<1943)
The Australian Army Nursing Service had been formed in 1902 and at the outbreak of WW2 was was one of two Army women's services (the other being Voluntary Aid Detachments) that were active as an adjunct to the Army at the outbreak of war in 1939. At that time they had their own rank structure and were separate to all intents and purposes from the Medical Corps.
This created issues that were eventually resolved by absorption into the broader Army with the application of Army ranks (for esample a 'Sister' in the AANS was a Captain equivalent, and a 'Matron' was a Major equivalent) and rates of pay.. This process was not without some cotroversey, as many of the nurses preferred their traditional titles.
Enlisted nurses were initially the only women to serve outside Australia. They served in England, Egypt, Palestine, Libya, Greece, Syria, Ceylon, Malaya, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands as well as staffing General Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations throughout Australia. They served on hospital ships, troop transports, base and camp hospitals and infamously, some spent time in Prisoner of War camps after the collapse of Malaya / Singapore and the loss of the 8th Division.
After the war, the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan included AANS personnel. In July 1947 members of the Australian Army Nursing Service were transferred to the Interim Army, and in November 1948 the Service was awarded the 'Royal' appelation. In July 1949 the Royal Australian Army Nursing Service was absorbed into the Australian Regular Army. and in February 1951 it was re-designated as the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC).