Researching Australian military service: First World War, nurses
Australian nurses served in Egypt, Lemnos, England, France, Belgium, Greece, Salonika, Palestine, Mesopotamia and India. In all, 2,139 served with the Australian Army Nursing Service, and 130 with the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service. A further 423 nurses served in hospitals in Australia.
To establish in which service nurses served, search the following Research Centre resources. Books listed may also be held in State or public libraries.
Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS)
Those who served in the AANS should be listed in
- First World War Nominal Roll
- First World War Embarkation Roll
- Neil C. Smith, The Australian Army Nursing Service: a short history with World War One nominal roll and award citations (Gardenvale, Vic: Mostly Unsung Military History Research and Publications, 1996)
- "Decorations, AANS [Australian Army Nursing Service] (June 1919 – March 1920)", Official record AWM18 9954/52/41. This file lists those who qualified for the 1914–15 Star (service medal).
Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS)
Roll of Australian nurses who served abroad with QAIMNS, Official records AWM27 373/12. Lists surnames and initials, dates of embarkation for overseas and return name of troopship and country from which they returned.
If you are not successful in finding a name in the sources listed above, you could try the following:
- Rupert Goodman, Our war nurses: the history of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps 1902–1988 (Bowen Hills, Qld: Boolarong Publications, 1988)
- Rupert Goodman, Queenslandnurses: Boer War to Vietnam (Bowen Hills, Qld: Boolarong Publications, 1985)
- Australian Army Nursing Services seniority lists [various titles: copies available in the Memorial's Research Centre.] Lists are available for 1915, 1917 and 1918. These lists are arranged by rank, then date of appointment so that it is not easy to search for a specific name. The lists provide surname, initials, military district and unit.
- Neil C. Smith, Under friendly flags: Australians who served in the land, sea and air forces of allied nations in World War One (Gardenvale, Vic: Mostly Unsung Military History and Research, 1998)
- "List of Australian nurses in England, November 1915", Official record AWM27 373/13. Nurses are listed by hospital, then alphabetically.
- "AIF nurses who served in India", Official record AWM27 373/25. There are several lists in this file.
- "Nominal roll of war nurses 1st Military District, 1914–19 (Jan 1923)", Official record AWM27 373/24. The 1st Military District covered Queensland. This roll includes, age, address, and details of service.
Personal service records
- Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) – those which are still in existence are held in the National Archives of Australia. For more information, see the National Archives of Australia guide Army - World War 1: 1914—1918
- Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) records are held in the National Archives, London. See their leaflet Looking for records of a British Army nurse.
Those who died while serving
The Roll of Honour records the names of service men and women who died during or as a result of service with Australian military forces. The Roll of Honour introduction provides detailed information about Roll of Honour eligibility.
The Commemorative Roll commemorates Australians who died during or as a result of wars or warlike operations in which Australians have been on active service but who were not eligible for inclusion on the Roll of Honour. The Commemorative Roll introduction provides detailed information about Commemorative Roll eligibility.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Debt of Honour register lists all British Commonwealth soldiers who died in the First and Second World wars only. The register provides details about where the individual is buried or commemorated, and includes plans and photographs of the cemetery or memorial.
Where they served
The Research Centre holds personal accounts given by 129 First World War nurses. Known as the "nurses' narratives", they are included in AWM41, the papers of A.G. Butler. These accounts cover topics such as the trip overseas, where the nurses worked, their working and living conditions, and the types of cases they dealt with.
The references to these narratives can be found on RecordSearch. To find the account of a specific nurse, use the advanced search for record items, type in the surname (e.g. Wray) in the keywords search box, and AWM41 in the Series number search box. To find all accounts, type nurses narratives (as a phrase) in the keywords search box.
For further information, please refer to our information sheet Researching the history of a unit.
Medals and awards
Refer to our information sheets:
Honours and Awards (Gazetted) gives names of AANS nurses who were awarded the Military Medal and the Royal Red Cross, and dates of the London and Commonwealth Gazettes in which the awards appeared. The recommendations for many of these awards are available in the Research Centre. Check with Research Centre staff to find out if a recommendation for a specific award is held. Other useful sources include:
- Neil C. Smith, The Australian Army Nursing Service: a short history with World War One nominal roll and award citations (Gardenvale, Vic: Mostly Unsung Military History Research and Publications,1996)
- "Nursing Services, Australian honours and awards RRC [Members of the Royal Red Cross] and ARRC [Associate Members of the Royal Red Cross]", Official record AWM127 368/1. This resource covers the period 1915–70 and provides full name, title, and the date of the award.
Where to look for photographs
- Collections Search gives access to photographs, and to films, art and private records held by the Memorial.
- Trove can search photographs and other images held by a range of major Australian libraries, archives and other cultural institutions.
- State libraries and archival repositories. For contact details, see our Information Sheet Addresses.