For centuries women have been involved in every kind of war and conflict imaginable, especially as nurses. Australian nurses have dealt face-to-face with war - the sick, the wounded and the dead. They have served in Australia, in war zones across the world and on hospital ships and transports.
Early in World War I local women's groups in Australia began working to provide provide tobacco, cakes, puddings, condensed milk, sugar, biscuits, newspapers and other 'luxury' items to supplement the Australian soldier's army rations
Kitty's War, an award winning book by La Trobe historian Dr Janet Butler, tells the story of a Victorian nurse on the front line. During World War I the only Australian women allowed to serve overseas were nurses (and masseurs). In Kitty's War, we share in the journey of Kit McNaughton, who joined the 3,000 nurses working overseas in the Australian Army Nursing Service.
Women were able to serve in the Australian army as nurses and other medical workers, but only if they were already trained. They served in places such as Egypt, Lemnos, England, France, Belgium, Greece, Palestine and India. About 2139 nurses served overseas between 1914 and 1919, while many worked in military hospitals in Australia. Seven women received the Military Medal during the war.
World War 1 saw the commitment of large numbers of women employed as nurses and other medical workers. They served in many different places, and were engaged in many different types of nursing. What can we learn about these women’s experiences?