• Entry type: Cultural Artefact
  • Entry ID: AWE0566

WRANS Memorial HMAS <I> Harman</I>

The Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (W.R.A.N.S.) plaque
  • Occupation Commemoration


On 1 July 2003 a dedication of a WRANS Memorial, formally recognising Harman as ‘The Birthplace of the WRANS,’ was held. The WRANS Memorial HMAS Harman is dedicated to those who have served in the Woman’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) and those females who have and are currently serving in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).


In April 1941, 14 women (12 telegraphists and 2 stewards) started work at HMAS Harman near Canberra. At the time instructions were given that no publicity was to be given to the formation of the women’s service, but this changed after the war in the Pacific began. During World War II more than 2000 women served in the WRANS. The WRANS served in shore establishments or ‘stone frigates’ primarily, hence the shape of a building as the main form in the structure. To show that the focus of the work being done by the WRANS was in support of those at sea the sides of the ‘stone frigate’ are covered in tiles of a colour akin to that of the sea. In the foreground of the memorial there are two bollards to represent the ‘ties to the shore’ of those at sea. The top of the memorial is sandstone with three distinct capping pieces, one each for the two service periods of the WRANS 1941-1946 and 1951-1984 and, the third to represent the ongoing contribution to the Navy of the female members of the RAN. The sandstone is reflective of the seabed and the seashore. At the rear are two flag poles from which will fly the Australian White Ensign (introduced in 1967) and the White Ensign (flown by the RAN from its inception until 1967), the latter in recognition of the period in which the WRANS first served.


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Related entries

  • Related Organisations
    • Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) (1941 - 1984)