WRAAC. Women's Royal
Australian Army Corps - History
The formation of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps was to become a
reality after World War II and
The disbandment of the Australian Women's
Army Service (AWAS) in June 1947.
Training uniform (shirt & shorts)
Consideration was made to re-establish the three Women's services, by
the Australian Government.
It was Cabinets decision for the approval of enlistment of women into
A dress committee met on this date in 1950.
Rhys Williams was a former AWAS was commissioned to design the
uniforms. Rhys was also a fashion designer. Preference was given for the
Shoulder title of WAAC
Lieutenant Colonel Kathleen Best, OBE., RRS., became the founding
Director of the newly formed Women's Australian Army Corps. Lt-Col.
Best, was born in Sydney in 1910, trained as a nurse, specialising in
midwifery. When the Second World War broke out, she enlisted into the
Army in 1940. As the youngest Matron, being sent to Greece, Palestine,
Egypt and Ethiopia.
After returning to
Australia, her position was the appointment of Controller of the VAD's.
When the service was re-organised, her position was as Controller of the
AAMWS in June 1942. It was in 1944, Lt-Col. Best returned to civilian
life. Then came the selection for Director of the newly formed WAAC. The
position was accepted and held the rank of Lieutenant
Colonel Sybil Irving MBE, was appointed Honorary Colonel. Best known for
appointment as Controller of the AWAS, holding the rank of Lieutenant
Colonel. Born into a Military family, her father was Major General GG
Irving. Colonel Irving held positions as Secretary of the Girl Guides
Association in Victoria, when she was awarded the MBE. In 1940, she
became the Assistant Secretary of the Red Cross in Victoria, holding
that position until 1951. Lt-Col. Irving was made an Honorary Colonel,
23 April 1951 - 23 April 1961. Colonel Irving, passed away on 24 March
The design for the WAAC uniform was given the approval. The first
members wore either Civilian clothes or AWAS uniforms that were left
over from World War II. A rush order was given to have three Officers
and 5 Other Ranks uniforms to be made for the Jubilee Celebration of the
Opening of Parliament.
His Majesty, King George VI, granted the Corps, "ROYAL"
patronage for the Corps to be renamed, Women's Royal Australian Army
Corps with the acronym being WRAAC. It was recorded that the Corps name
should NEVER to be referred to as WRAACs.
Jubilee celebration - "Opening of Parliament".
The first WRAAC recruits were trained at Studley Park, near Camden in
New South Wales. Recruits from Eastern and Northern Commands were
trained here. Warrant Officer Patricia Rawlings, was the first Chief
Instructor for the first training course.
For the new recruits, enlisting in the Southern and Central Commands,
went to the new training camp at Lonsdale Bight in Victoria. The WRAAC
Approval was given to raise the WRAAC Citizens Military Force.
The Corps badge was designed by Colonel Best. The first Badge was issued
two years later.
For the first time, WRAAC members, appeared in the Military Tattoo.
|WRAAC rank badge
for Lance Corporal and Corporal.
Approval was granted for the WRAAC School, to be established at Mildura,
providing Recruit, Junior and Senior NCO's, Warrant Officer's and
Officer Training. Major Crane, appointed Chief Instructor for the
Officer refresher course.
The first Officer Cadet Course, for WRAAC and RAANC members, began at
the new WRAAC School, Mildura.
WRAAC Training was moved to Queenscliff, Victoria.
Lt-Col. Best was promoted to Colonel.
WRAAC personnel, for the first time were posted to National Service
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, gave approval for the appointment of Her
Royal Highness, Princess Margaret, as Colonel-In-Chief of the WRAAC.
More than 10,000 women served Australia, with distinction and dedication
in the WRAAC (Regular Corps), the Citizen Military Force and later the
The WRAAC was disbanded in 1984. This followed moves in the late 1970's,
to align male and female training and duties and for the transfer (or
the direct enlistment of the new recruits) into employer Corps in the
The WRAAC Badge:
The design of the WRAAC badge was approved in 1951, they were not issued
The badge consists of the five stars of the Southern Cross, representing
the Southern Hemisphere, superimposed on a silver lozenge, which in
Heraldic terms, characterises WOMEN. Gilt gum leaves surround the
lozenge to signify the Australian Corps and the abbreviated letters from
the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC), formed on the scroll at
the base of the badge.
Surmounting the badge is
the Saint Edward's (Queen's) Crown.
In February 1956, Queen Elizabeth II, gave approval for the alliance
between the WRAAC and the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC) in the United
WRAAC Regimental Theme Song:
The Corps, Regimental march is "Soldiers of the Queen", is
played on most occasions when members of the Corps are assembled.
WRAAC School finally disbanded.