In April the Society received an email from Brett Jennings, the son of Winifred Emma (Wynne) Jennings, a former member of the AWAS. Unfortunately, Wynne passed away on the 30th August 2017, however, Brett and his family kindly gave permission for us to share Wynne’s Australian Women’s Army Services (AWAS) story.
The article (AWAS WRAAC JOURNAL, 18 July 2018, pages 37-45) is a tribute to when Australian women contributed to the Country’s overall defence and freedom and it should never be forgotten.
Is AWAS for you?
A World War II recruiting poster, for the Australian Women’s Army Services (AWAS).
‘There’s a Job For You in the A.W.A.S, the Service That Is Uniformly Smart! Join the A.W.A.S. Australian Women’s Army Service’.
Printed in Australia, colour offset, linen-backed, 63 x 50 cm.
Courtesy of the Antique Reporter sold at auction in 19 August 2008.
Wynne writes about the volunteer groups in Victoria – Australian Women’s Legion and WOMENS Cavalry Corps. She initially joined the Red Cross to learn first aid and home nursing. In March 1941 the director of manpower met with heads of volunteer groups, and later that year approval was given for the formation of the women’s services. After the formation of AWAS in August 1942, Wynne joined on 3 September 1942 (VF391261). She served until she was discharged on 1 May 1946 – a total of 1337 days service. She also had two sisters who joined the AWAS.
MELBOURNE, VIC. 1942-11-14. SENIOR OFFICERS OF THE WOMEN’S SERVICES. LEFT TO RIGHT: GROUP OFFICER CLARE G. STEVENSON, DIRECTOR, WOMEN’S AUXILIARY AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE (WAAAF); FIRST OFFICER ANNETTE OLDFIELD, WOMEN’S ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVAL SERVICE (WRANS); GROUP OFFICER M. I. LANG, MATRON-IN-CHIEF, ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE NURSING SERVICE (RAAFNS); MATRON J. SINCLAIR-WOOD, MATRON-IN-CHIEF, AUSTRALIAN ARMY NURSING SERVICE (AANS); VX143893 LIEUTENANT COLONEL S. H. IRVING, MBE, CONTROLLER AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S ARMY SERVICE (AWAS); NFX12617 LIEUTENANT COLONEL K. BEST, ROYAL RED CROSS CONTROLLER, AUSTRALIAN ARMY MEDICAL WOMEN’S SERVICE.
Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
After about three months, orders came through that she was to be transferred to the Darley Military Camp near Bacchus Marsh. She recalls the arduous journey to Bacchus Marsh and the kind local ladies who provided refreshments on their arrival.
Wynne found the surrounds to the camp pleasant with good views towards Bacchus Marsh and the closeness to the Lerdergerg Gorge.
Members of the Australian Women’s Army Services (AWAS) turning up to the Darley Military Camp during World War II.
Courtesy of the John Hannah Private Collection.
“Darley became my home. Conditions were reasonably good”.Sergeant Winifred Emma (Wynne) Jennings
She vividly recalls the rigours of camp life, the washing and cleaning, and the importance of being connected to people outside the confines of the Camp.
“The ablution blocks were quite primitive. The showers had no doors so we all knew what our various bodies looked like. We had to stand on “duck boards”. I presume because concrete floors get slippery, but they were great for passing on tinea”.Sergeant Winifred Emma (Wynne) Jennings
What to do?
Wynne remembers how leave was a big part of their lives while in service. Initially they were only allowed two days a month, but this was relaxed to 24 hours per week over time.
Members of the Australian Women’s Army Services (AWAS) at the Darley Military Camp in August 1943.
Courtesy of the Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society Inc. Collection.
A great deal of leave time was spent in Bacchus Marsh. There were dances and picture shows at the local theatre. Even the odd pub meal at local hotels.
“We enjoyed going to The Border Inn for a meal – the mixed grill was very popular. Six o’clock closing”.Sergeant Winifred Emma (Wynne) Jennings
Learn more about Wynne’s memories as a sergeant in the AWAS during World War 2. Find out what everyday life was like at the Darley Military Camp for a member of the AWAS. How the service women found Bacchus Marsh and interfaced with the local community. Check out our Facebook page now.