Group Officer Clare Grant Stevenson
|Birth date:||18 July 1903|
|Birth place:||Australia: Victoria, Wangaratta|
|Death date:||22 October 1988|
|Death place:||Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Mona Vale|
|Final rank:||Group Officer|
|Conflict:||Second World War, 1939-1945|
Clare Stevenson, born on 18 July 1903 at Wangaratta, Victoria, was the first woman to be appointed head of a women's wartime service in Australia. She attended school in Essendon, Melbourne, and gained entry to Melbourne University's Faculty of Science, where she became active in campus activities, serving as President of the Committee of Melbourne University Women. Having failed chemistry, Stevenson enrolled for a Diploma of Education, graduating in 1925.
She began work with the YWCA and spent several years as General Secretary of Rockhampton Branch before taking up work as a training and research officer at Berlei in 1932. Between 1935 and 1939, Stevenson represented Berlei as a senior executive in London.
In June 1941 Stevenson was selected as Director of the newly formed Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) with the rank of squadron officer; she was promoted to wing officer the following September. Having been established in response to lobbying by women keen to serve Australia in wartime and in recognition of the need to free men for service overseas, the WAAAF became the first and largest of Australia's Second World War women's services.
Stevenson received a further promotion in September 1942, to group officer. During her tenure the WAAAF became part of the permanent Air Force. At its peak, in October 1944, the WAAAF numbered 18,667 personnel. In total, more than 27,000 women served under Stevenson's command. She continued to serve after the war ended, retiring in March 1946 and returning to her former employer, Berlei, where she worked as a senior executive until 1960.
In addition to her civilian and military careers, Stevenson was active in community work for more than forty years. She enjoyed a long affiliation with the Services Canteen Trust Fund and, along with a group of friends, helped initiate the Scholarship Trust Find for Civilian Widows' Children. She was also involved in establishing Sydney's King's Cross Community Aid Centre and the Carers' Association of New South Wales.
In recognition of her contribution to community organisations and for her work on behalf of former servicewomen, Stevenson was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire; on 26 January 1988 she received the Member of the Order of Australia.
Stevenson never married. She died in Sydney on 22 October 1988.
Rolls and Awards
PAGE PROOFS FROM DONOR'S CHAPTER IN THE BOOK, "DOUBLE TIME", DETAILING THE WORK OF SQN OFFICER STEVENSON FROM HER APPOINTMENT AS DIRECTOR OF THE WAAAF IN JUNE 1941 UNTIL HER RETIREMENT IN MARCH 1946. PHOTOCOPYPR84/200
Certificates relating to permanent service and statement of service with Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF).PR87/058
Letter by the Duchess of Gloucester dated 1947, certificates and memorial service order relating to the education and career of Group Officer Stevenson, director of the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force during the Second World War.PR89/123
Studio portrait of Group Officer Clare Stevenson, Director of WAAAF. This portrait was taken for the cover of the Australian Women's Weekly and published on 31 July 1943.AWM2016.462.2
Melbourne, Vic. C. 1946-03. Portrait of Wing Officer (Wing Off) Audrey Herring WAAAF, Staff Officer in the Directorate of Personal Services, Air Force Headquarters (AFHQ), Victoria Barracks. Wing Off Herring had been Deputy Director WAAAF since 1943-11-17 and in this appointment became responsible...VIC1487
WAAAF training film showing advancement through recruit training to various Air Force trades. The film was made at the Directorate of Training RAAF HQ Albert Park Melbourne produced in collaboration with Squadron Leader Newman Rosenthal MBE head of the Visual Aids Section RAAF. Text was written and...F03351
|Date of birth||1903-07-18||Wangaratta, VIC.|
|Other||1925||Graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Diploma of Education.|
|Other||1926 - 1928||Organiser of night classes and clubs for day workers YWCA (Sydney).|
|Other||1929 - 1931||General Secretary of the YWCA, Rockhampton.|
|Other||1932||Appointed as a training and research officer at Berlei.|
|Other||1935 - 1939||Stevenson represented Berlei as a senior executive in London.|
|Date and unit at appointment (Officers)||1941-06||Stevenson was selected as Director of the newly formed Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) and enlisted with the rank of Squadron Officer.|
|Date promoted||1941-09||Promoted to wing officer.|
|Date promoted||1942-09||Promoted to group officer.|
|Other||1946 - 1986||Appointed as one of the nine Trustees of the Services Canteens Trust Fund based in Melbourne.|
|Other||1946-03-22||Retired from WAAAF and returned to her former employer, Berlei.|
|Other||1960||Retired from Berlei.|
|Date of honour or award||1960-06-11||Member of the Order of the British Empire.|
|Other||1975 - 1987||Established the Kings Cross Community Aid and Information Service and was President of the Service for some years and a member of the Management Committee.|
|Date of honour or award||1988-01-26||Member of the Order of Australia.|
|Date of death||1988-10-22|