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National Museum of Australia

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Australian Women's Land Army khaki woollen winter service dress jacket, worn by Sheila Ferguson

1993.0075.0009

Australian Women's Land Army khaki woollen winter service dress jacket, worn by Sheila Ferguson

Object information

Physical description

Australian Women's Land Army khaki woollen winter service dress jacket. It has a hip and a breast pocket on either side of the front opening, which has four brown buttons down it. "A.W.L.A." is inscribed in red stitch on both shoulders and on the upper left arm there is an "AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S LAND ARMY" green, gold and red badge. "SHEILA C FERGUSON" has been written in pen on the inside of the collar above the size tag.

Statement of significance

The collection comprises ten items related to the work of Mrs Sheila Van Emden (nee Ferguson) in the Australian Women's Land Army (AWLA) and the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) during the Second World War. The items include Van Emden's AWLA uniform jacket and service record; and two aircraft models and an ashtray made by Van Emden in WAAAF engineering training.

As the Second World War intensified and the male labour force diminished, women began to work in munitions factories and other essential industries in roles previously held by men. This gradual extension of women's roles away from more traditional home bound activities caused considerable controversy, and had enduring effects on social attitudes. The WAAAF was the first of four Australian women's service organisations established in 1941, and within two years of its inauguration had 16,000 members. First joining the AWLA, Sheila Ferguson decided to join the WAAAF in 1943. After training in Melbourne, Ferguson was posted to the Service Flying Training School at Uranquinty, a station between Albury and Wagga, where she assisted with major aircraft inspections, involving the complete overhaul of engines, airframes, electrical instruments and guns, until the end of the war.

Object information

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