Discovering Thirroul’s Servicewomen in WW2

We are in the 75th anniversary years of WW2 – remembering those who served in 1939 – 1945.

World War 2 saw so many more women participate – at least 35 women associated with Thirroul in the Army and RAAF – as many women as who served in Nursing in WW1 across the whole Illawarra region and beyond.

These women, who served in WW2, were either born in Thirroul, and/or were living in Thirroul, when they enlisted. But so far no women associated with Thirroul have been identified as serving in the NAVY.

One can only wonder at the stories of these 35 women.

Twenty women associated with Thirroul had enlisted in the Army in WW2 – of whom 4 appeared to have been nurses – and one was a Gunner –  and 15 women enlisted in the RAAF. One woman in the RAAF continued serving into the 1960s – reaching to Flight Sergeant rank – Gwendoline Fitzgerald (1, 2)

Fitzgerald Gwendoline

Gwendoline Fitzgerald

Three of the four nurses in the Army may have served overseas. One nurse who served overseas was Phyllis Vickers from The Esplanade Thirroul. In 1942 – 1943 she served on the Oranje – a Netherlands ship used as the main Australian Hospital Ship in WW2 – in the Middle East, Indian and Pacific WW2 campaigns. It had been the largest ship in the world before WW2 and was used in 1942 to bring wounded soldiers home from the Middle East – and also in September 1945 transporting released 8th Division Prisoners of War from Singapore. During the war Phyllis married Captain K J Eager of 106 Australian General Hospital at Bonegilla.

Vickers Phyllis

Lieutenant Phyllis Vickers

One of the Thirroul born nurses in WW2, Lieutenant Eileen Cecily Mullens who completed her training at the Mater in Waratah in 1933, married Captain Nigel Hubert Bowen after the war in 1947. Nigel, later Sir Nigel Hubert Bowen, became the first Chief Justice of the Australian Federal Court. This was after his departure from the Australian Federal Parliament as a Member for Parramatta, where he had served as Minister for Education and Science, Attorney General and Foreign Affairs Minister. Eileen’s sudden death in 1983, caused a delay in the Lindy Chamberlain trial (Source Senator Robert Hill – Hansard), some years later her widower husband remarried.

Eileen Mullins - later Mrs Bowen and Lady Bowen

Eileen Mullins (wearing glasses) – later Mrs Bowen and Lady Bowen

Photo Title : Australia-Japan Ministerial Meeting, Canberra, 12-13 October, 1972 : Lady Waller and Sir Keith Waller, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Bowen and Nigel Bowen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, greet Gough Whitlam, Leader of the Opposition, and Mrs Margaret Whitlam – Date : National Archives of Australia 1972 – sourced via Trove

If you can help with information and photographs of these women – please email me on kcact@tpg.com.au.

SURNAME                    FIRST NAME              2ND/3RD NAMES                SERIAL NO.                   

ACKERMANN GLADYS ISOBEL 106308 RAAF
AIR DOROTHY NF443355 Army
BIEMAN (Kimbrey) VERNA LOUISE NF461794 Army
CARTIE (Atkins) MARY 108443 RAAF
CLARK JOAN NF462215 Army
COOKE BETTY N388901 Army
DIGNAN MARIE ISOBEL VERONICA 98420 RAAF
DOBBINS NENA NF440698 Army
DOBBINS ELAINE NF456296 Army
FIELD LILIAN CONSTANCE NF479608 Army
FITZGERALD

Fitzgerald Gwendoline

Fitzgerald Gwendoline

GWENDOLINE MARY W23816 (92883) RAAF
GALLAGHER CHRISTINA 106106 RAAF
HAMILTON (Cooper)

Lorraine Hamilton

Lorraine Hamilton

LORRAINE NF466856 Army (more)
HAMILTON (Green) EVELYN ALICE NF483011 Army
HILL BETTY JOYCE NF464493 Army
JACKSON MARGARET RUTH NF455445 Army
JONES DORIS MABEL NF392104 Army
KEEGAN (Kelsall) GERTRUDE JANET ESTHER 106422 RAAF
LACEY (Townsend)

Olwyn Lacey

Olwyn Lacey

OLWYN MONICA NF464246 Army
LAY BERYL NF463641 Army
MANN DOROTHY JENNER 98466 RAAF
MARTIN LORNA ENID 92801 RAAF
MAY (Trend) MARGARET NX119272 (N391906) Army (was Sister at Lithgow & Coledale Hospitals)
MEREDITH

(Cheesewright)

GLADYS 106514 RAAF
MULLENS (Bowen) EILEEN CECILY NX138696 (N391918) Army

Lieutenant

NICHOLSON JOAN ELIZABETH 97673 RAAF
PETRIE NELLIE JEAN 109197 RAAF
PIKE IRENE PEARL NF463845 Army
PRIVETT IDA EMMALINE 110114 RAAF
REEVES MARY LOUISE 97786 RAAF
ROBERTS EULA MYRTLE 106942 RAAF
SHEPHERD JEANNETTE CATHERINE NF410482 Army
SPICKLER RUTH YVONNE N440797 Army
TUCKER ALICE ANNIE NF465517 Army
VICKERS (Eager)

Vickers Phyllis

PHYLLIS VX65930 Army

Lieutenant

WALKER JOAN 176995 RAAF
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