Invisible partners: The Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps pathway to the Malayan Emergency

Authors

  • Margaret McLeod PhD MA (Health Service Management) BA (Social Welfare) RN, RM Nursing Supervision Certificate,

    Corresponding author
    1. Lecturer in Nursing and Midwifery, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Karen Francis PhD MEd MHlth Sc PHC Grad Cert Uni Teach/Learn B Hlth Sc, Nsg (UWSN) Dip Hlth Sc Nsg (ACAE) RN

    1. Professor of Rural Nursing, School of Nursing Gippsland Campus, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
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Margaret McLeod, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Charles Sturt University, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia. Email: mmcleod@csu.edu.au

Abstract

This paper highlights the role of women from the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps who served in the Malayan Emergency. The British administrators of Malaya declared an Emergency in 1948 in response to threats posed by Chinese Communist Terrorists. Australia was slow to support Britain, but in 1955 Australian ground troops, accompanied by six Army nurses were deployed to Malaya. The nurses worked in British Military Hospitals, continuing the traditions of their antecedents; yet their contributions remain hidden from view. The exact number of Australian nurses who served in the Emergency is unknown, because of the poor record-keeping of the Southeast Asian conflicts. However, it is estimated that 33 Australian Army nurses served in Malaya from 1955, with some continuing their service into the early 1960s. The experiences of four of these nurses are revealed in this paper: they are no longer invisible partners.

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