(School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, University of Queensland, 2009)
The Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS), with almost 2500 trained female nurses, provided nursing care and performed a myriad of other medical, administrative and non-nursing roles for the AIF overseas during World War I. In 1919 and 1920, the Army demobilised most. However, the nurses’ military service changed their nursing lives forever. Based on extensive new data, and building on the work of historian Jan Bassett, this paper explores the work of nurses immediately after the war, their continuing ties with the military, how the government’s repatriation system treated them and the commemorations of their work.
While some were entitled to pensions, many others struggled financially through life. Many were mentally and physically exhausted from their military service and found general nursing, their own qualifications, too much. Although other historians believe that the AANS set the standards for Australian hospital nursing after the war, many branched out and pioneered other fields such as infant welfare, repatriation nursing, industrial and school nursing while others opened nurses’ homes.