Australians in World War 1

This guide focuses on Australians serving in World War 1. It also includes some information relevant to Great Britain, other Commonwealth nations and other combatant nations. There is a section on nurses and women's war occupations.

Women's war work

"Anzac" chauffeurs, London, Illustrated war news, 2 Aug 1916, page 3.There were few active roles open to Australian women during World War I. The major war role for Australian women was nursing, both overseas and in Australia. See the Nurses section of this guide for more information.

Women in Australia  helped the war effort through charitable work such as fund-raising, knitting  or sending food to the troops. Some Australian women travelled overseas to work as ambulance drivers and chauffeurs.

Doctors

A small number of  Australian women worked as doctors.

The following books held at the State Library of Victoria deal with female doctors who worked in different theatres of war during World War I.  Click on each title below to go to the State Library catalogue record.

Wartime occupations of British women

In Britain, the war led to an enormous, if temporary, expansion of women's work roles. Needing men for their armies, the government fostered positive attitudes to women’s employment in a huge range of traditonally male occupations. The War Office told employers that no man who was eligible for war service was to be retained if he could be replaced by a woman or a man who was ineligible for war service. This applied for the duration of the war only.

The British government produced a publication listing all the occupations which British women could take on - Women's war work in maintaining the industries & export trade of the United Kingdom.

You can see more photos online in the publication Carry on: women's work in war time. Click on the View online link in the record.

Here are some photographs from wartime magazines showing some of the roles British women filled.

 

 

British woman filling up a road watering cart, Illustrated war news, 5 Jul 1916, page 17
British woman filling up a road watering cart,
The illustrated war news, 5 Jul 1916, page 17

 

Female bus conductor, Illustrated war news, 5 Apr 1916, page 45
Female bus conductor,
The illustrated war news, 5 Apr 1916, page 45
Shepherdess, Illustrated war news, 5 July 1916, page 35Shepherdess,
The illustrated war news, 5 July 1916, page 35
Female mechanic repairing a car Illustrated war news May 24, 1916 Pt 94 p28.Female mechanic repairing a car,
The illustrated war news, 24 May 1916, page 28
Munitions workers&; class, Shoreditch Technical Institute  Illustrated War News 5 Apr 1916, part 87, page 46
Munitions workers' class, Shoreditch Technical Institute,
The illustrated war news, 5 Apr 1916, part 87, page 46.
Illustrated war news</a>, 5 Apr 1916, part 87, page 47
Female munitions workers learning to use machinery at Shoreditich Technical Institute, The illustrated war news, 5 Apr 1916, part 87, page 47
 
Female firefighters practise a drill at a London workhouse for elderly women
Female firefighters practise a drill at a London workhouse for elderly women, The illustrated war news, 5 Apr 1916, part 87, page 42
British women in a munitions factory lowering shells into a storeroom from a crane. 

Window cleaners

Women working as window cleaners, Cambridge, The illustrated war news, 5 Apr 1916, part 87, page 44

 

Women working in the coal industry.

The illustrated war news, 31 October 1917, page 35.

 

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Woman working at a forge

A  woman working at a forge in the War Hospital Supply Depot factory, Kensington, London. The factory manufactured hospital appliances for the use of army medical services.

The illustrated war news, 7 November 1917, page 35.