Acknowledging nurses who fought for recognition after coming home from war was the central theme of Anzac Day services in Rockingham this morning, where more than 20,000 turned out to pay their respect.
The second largest gathering of people in WA after King’s Park, the Rockingham services saw members of the Australian Navy, stationed at nearby Garden Island, take part in the commemorations.
The main service was preceded by a march, which saw groups like the Navy, Rockingham and Port Kennedy RSLs, the Totally and Partially Disabled Veterans of WA, Vietnam Veterans and light horse infantries take part.
Other local groups in the march included the Rockingham Fire Brigade and the Baldivis Bush Fire Brigade, St John’s Ambulance, WA Police, the State Emergency Service, the Australian Red Cross, Police Ranger Cadets and local Guide and Scout groups, among others.
Lead by Major Lyndon Jackson, the main service focused particularly on the role that nurses played in World War I and II.
Major Jackson said that more than 2,000 women enlisted as nurses in the First World War, but that they had largely been “left out” of the Anzac legend.
“Far less appreciated is the role of the Australian nurse, but it was their actions that saved many lives,” he said.
He said that upon their return, nurses found it “near impossible” to claim war payments or pensions, and that they were refused memberships to RSL’s.
“They were politically swept aside and became a footnote in the Anzac story, but it is a story that needs to be told,” he said.
Re-enactments of diary entries from Australian nurses including Lydia King and Daisy Richmond were included in the service.
It was then announced that a plaque would be installed at the Cenotaph in Rockingham to acknowledge the contribution of nurses to war efforts.
During the service the Australian and New Zealand national anthems were sung, while the prayer was led by Navy Chaplain Lynette Emery.
The Silver Clefs choir performed during the service, while Ethan Lamont played the bugle.
Several World War Two veterans also attended the event.