Wednesday 13 August 2014 by Ashleigh Wadman. 17 comments
Collection, Military Heraldry and Technology, First World War uniforms

  • This is one in a series of blogs that covers the basic aspects of Australian uniforms during the First World War. There is a great diversity between nursing uniforms of the First World War. This variety is due to the fact that nursing uniforms were not centrally manufactured or issued in this war. Instead, nurses were given a uniform allowance to equip themselves and were allowed to make their own uniforms if they chose. This, and tailoring variations within Australia and overseas, led to considerable variety in the uniforms as can be seen in contemporary photographs. Styles of collars, blousons, skirts, footwear and headwear show the greatest variety.

    The working dress, or ward dress, introduced in 1914 remained virtually the same throughout the war, except for a slight shortening of the skirt in line with fashion. The working dress for the entire 1914-18 period consisted of:

    • A grey zephyr cotton dress similar in pattern to the 1914 outdoor dress of blouson and skirt, with detachable starched white collar and cuffs.
    • A starched white apron with bib front, a curved neckline and cross over straps at the back. Grey zephyr aprons were sometimes worn for very dirty work. The aprons were fastened with a self-fabric belt and two buttons or studs at the waist, or occasionally a belt buckle.
    • A scarlet shoulder cape fastened at the throat with the silver Rising Sun badge. The cape was usually of scarlet cotton that could be laundered, hence the term ‘washing cape’.
    • A white linen veil, 1 yard (91.5 cm) square.
    • Black stockings.
    • Black boots or shoes.

    Matron Margaret Grace Wilson “doing a round” in Lemnos in May 1915. Matron Margaret Grace Wilson “doing a round” in Lemnos in May 1915. A05332

    Sister Mary Jane Derrer at the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station near Steenwerck, France on 17 June 1917. Sister Mary Jane Derrer at the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station near Steenwerck, France on 17 June 1917. P00156.071

    Shoulder cape worn by Sister Mary McDougall. The Lieutenant's (Sister's) rank stars and curved 'AUSTRALIA' shoulder titles are fitted to the shoulder straps. An AANS embroidered cloth badge has been sewn onto the front as a souvenir of her service. Shoulder cape worn by Sister Mary McDougall. The Lieutenant's (Sister's) rank stars and curved 'AUSTRALIA' shoulder titles are fitted to the shoulder straps. An AANS embroidered cloth badge has been sewn onto the front as a souvenir of her service. REL/01701

    Veil worn by Staff Nurse Eliza Rowan. The veil features the badge of the hospital at which she trained. Veil worn by Staff Nurse Eliza Rowan. The veil features the badge of the hospital at which she trained.

    Shoes worn by Staff Nurse Eliza Rowan.Shoes worn by Staff Nurse Eliza Rowan.

    Sister Evelyn Davies in wet weather gear in Lemnos in 1915. The working dress was added to in adverse conditions. Sister Evelyn Davies in wet weather gear in Lemnos in 1915. The working dress was added to in adverse conditions. A05374

    Sisters Browne, Steel, McAllister, Furness and Jack, members of the nursing staff of the Hospital at Tank, on the North West Frontier in India. Note that both white and grey aprons are worn. Sisters Browne, Steel, McAllister, Furness and Jack, members of the nursing staff of the Hospital at Tank, on the North West Frontier in India. Note that both white and grey aprons are worn. H12556

    For further information about nurses during the First Word War, please see Our war nurses: the history of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps 1902-1988 by Rupert Goodman and Guns and brooches: Australian Army nursing from the Boer War to the Gulf War by Jan Bassett. You can also search for further uniform collection items and contemporary images on the Memorial's website http://www.awm.gov.au/search/all/.

     

Comments

Lee-Ann

  • We should always remember our nurses who looked after our soldiers. They made a great sacrifice as well.

Kym Arnol

  • Don't forget these girls also paid their own way to the Boer War and WW1

Kym Arnol

  • Don't forget these girls also paid their own way to the Boer War and WW1

julie Gunn

  • Hello I really enjoyed looking around this site ,I have been trying to fine some of our relative (Ada Isabella ) but know as Isabella Tchan that was a nurse in the Boer War but not been able to find any records of her. She came back to Perth and opened her own Maturity Hospital in Pert called Bethel Lodge at 362 Newcastle street in 1898 . would you have any idea how to find any records of her service in the" Boer War " Regards Julie Gunn

Judith Molloy

  • I am endeavouring to make a WW1 nurses uniform to wear on the 11/11/14 and also on ANZAC day to honour the "Forgotten ANZAC's" the Army Nurse, the volunteer nurse, the Salvation Army nurse and the ST.John Nurse's of England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia to name a few who went willingly to war to look after the wounded and sick men. I am wanting to know what the Australian Army Nurse's shoes were like and what colour and I need the cloth badge either worn on the cape or sleeve. I am hoping there are replicas made of the badge. I need more buttons to the ones I already have such as smaller cuff and epaulette ones . Also what was the pouch they wore to keep their instruments in.? was it made of leather? and what design was it. Many thanks for any help. Regards Judith Molloy

Sandra Colley

  • I am watching the ABC series Anzac Girls, and am wondering why the nurses carried a deck chair. Thank you

Marg Smith

  • I would like information on my freat Aunt Margaret Evangeline Shields, known to have served in Palestine during the WW1. Thank you

Josephine Smith

  • What a great site. I'm looking for a ancestor, she was a nurse in the Boer War, her name is Sarah Morphett (nee) Smith. Not sure if she served as a Smith or married name. I have about 4 photos of her in her nurses uniform. Would you be able to help me out? Thankyou josephine Smith

Josephine Smith

  • What a great site. I'm looking for a ancestor, she was a nurse in the Boer War, her name is Sarah Morphett (nee) Smith. Not sure if she served as a Smith or married name. I have about 4 photos of her in her nurses uniform. Would you be able to help me out? Thankyou josephine Smith

Ashleigh Wadman says:

  • Thank you for your enquiries. When researching family history, it is always best to refer to the number of information sheets available on the website, http://www.awm.gov.au/research/infosheets/. Collection items available on the website can be found here, http://www.awm.gov.au/search/all/?op=Search&format=list. I suggest searching for both the desired physical item as well as photographs of nurses using it.

bob wise

  • Do you have any pictures / diagrams / patterns for the utility pouch the nusres carried with thier sissors etc in them , we are hopeing to make some for our Nurses. Bob Wise (Secretary .Westralian Great War Living History Association Inc.

Grant O'Neil

  • Great information on this blog, thanks for a good resource. Been watching ANZAC Girls and interested in the Red Cross "bluebird" uniform depicted there. I have seen numerous examples of Red Cross nurse uniforms that have all been very similar to AANS ward dress but pale blue dress instead of grey, and sometimes with Red Cross on the apron, but I've never before seen the royal blue uniform depicted and had no success in finding anything about that style of uniform online. Does the AWM have any resources that can tell me about this?

Ashleigh Wadman

  • Thank you for your comment Grant. As you can tell by Sister Dorothy Ellena Duffy's Norfolk jacket(http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/REL/21142/), the uniforms worn by the Bluebirds were navy blue. Note that they were made by David Jones. Here is an image of Sister Duffy in her uniform, http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P02298.010/. The royal blue uniform worn in ANZAC Girls was a liberal interpretation.

Sharon Gunter

  • Fantastic information. Does anyone know where I might get a paper pattern for a aans uniform from? I have acquired one from a web site but needs to be drawn to "life size" pattern for cutting out and sewing.

Ian Alexander Edwards

  • I'm seeking information about my great-aunt, Mary Livingston who enlisted in the AANS and served in France during the Great War. Are there any records available such as those about members of the first AIF and, if so, how may I gain access to them?

Sharon Johnson

  • I hope you can help. I am trying to make some Australian World War 1 nurses uniforms & I am after a good picture of the uniform they wore.Also is there any where that makes them? Thank-you.

Ashleigh Wadman says:

  • Thank you for your comments. When researching family history, it is always best to refer to the number of information sheets available on the website, http://www.awm.gov.au/research/infosheets/. Images of the AANS uniform can be found on the Memorial's website, http://www.awm.gov.au/search/all/. Unfortunately I cannot provide advice as to reproduction uniforms, however I suggest contacting a First World War re-enactment group. You should be able to find details of such a group online.

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