Australian dress register ID:275
Owner:Evans Head Living Museum Inc.
Date range:1943 - 1944
Place of origin:Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
This winter WAAAF (Women's Auxilliary Australian Airforce) dress uniform from 1943/4 is complete and in pristine condition. Marjorie Boyling, who owned it, would have looked extremely attractive in this smartly tailored suit. Her gift is an important addition to the WWII collection at Evans Head Living Museum which tells the bittersweet story of the war and the functioning airforce base and training facility there.
Government uniforms are well marked with labels and handwritten information and we are able to positively identify which parts were made in which year. The hand embroidered crest and red eyed eagle are key indicators of the hierarchy of the airforce at the time.
Marjorie Boyling decided to donate the suit as she had long-standing involvement with the Museum and her husband had served at Evans Head, on the north coast of New South Wales during the war. It is an important reminder of the involvement of 27,000 women in the auxiliary airforce during the last 4 years of the war and part of a larger story of the wartime role of women. Stiff opposition by men to their joining up to the forces had persisted for 14 years before they were finally allowed from 1941. Author: Lindie Ward with Evans Head Regional workshop participants, 3rd September 2010, 8th September 2010.
This winter WAAAF (Women's Auxiliary Australian Airforce) dress uniform is in three pieces: belted jacket, skirt, and cap. Very dark navy blue, woollen serge 2 piece suit. Single breasted long sleeved, with centre front buttons (4) and open collar with high pointed lapel. Fastening left over right (the men's way). The buttons are pressed metal with an eagle and crown. Two buttoned breast pockets. Large flap on the lower pockets below the waist. Over-lapping vented back flap. Sleeves are made in two pieces. The upper sleeves each have WAAAF insignia of an eagle, hand embroidered in blue silk with red eye on both. Only on the lower right sleeve is a handstitched red and black chevron. Jacket is lined with glazed cotton across upper shoulder and cotton lining in sleeves.
Label inside jacket at centre back, printed, inside a box:
'N223 A'arrow sign, pointing upwards' F
1943 Made in Australia'
Handwritten across label in blue biro:
Small blue stamp
White woven cloth label, red stitching, attached with safety pin
The woollen serge, dark navy blue cap with visor at front and flap folded upwards at back. The crown is gathered onto a wide band of black braid with a circular blue hand stitched insignia patch attached to centre front. Insignia has imperial crown with red embroidery, with a wreath of wattle on either side and ornamented RAAF lettering. A fine leather band is threaded behind the patch and hooked onto each side. Strap can double as an adjustable chin strap.
Inside the cap, handwritten in pen:
Inside cap printed:
MADE IN AUSTRALIA
In a square:
Four piece 'A' line skirt in dark navy blue serge with adjustable buckle fastenings on both sides at back waistband.
Side opening at left waist with 4 metal hooks and 4 thread eyes.
Two 45 degree angle top stitched and bound slit pockets at skirt upper left and right front.
Cloth label at inside centre back waist
Link to further information about this object
History and Provenance
Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information
Marjorie has a daughter Janine Anderson who is a pilot no doubt influenced by her mother's involvement with the WAAAF.
Keith Boyling noted as having served September 1940 to January 1941 at Evans Head. Ref: Wings at War RAAF at Evans Head 1939-1945, p.34
Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?
Marjorie came to annual WAAAF reunion at Evans Head and donated the uniform to the Evans Head Museum. Marjorie was not stationed at Evans Head during WWII. Marjorie decided to donate the uniform to Evans Head Living Museum because of excellent past associations with the town, which was one of the biggest training posts in Australia and where her brother, Keith Boyling, was stationed for three months. (see 'Wings at War' page 34)
The WAAAFs at Evans Head worked in munitions and the hospital, and general low skilled duties around the station. It was a man's world and they were given the bad jobs as a test, driving huge trucks with trailers, delivering toilets etc. There had been much resistance and 14 years of wrangling before women were allowed to sign up to the armed forces.
Marjorie donated the suit to Evans Head as she had come to airforce reunions there for many years and knew that Evans Head Living Museum had a particular interest in WWII material. She did not wear the uniform at Evans Head herself. There are still many WAAAFs in the area.
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
Nancy Margaret Ward, a WAAAF stationed at Evans Head, was the first to hear of the Japanese surrender in 1945 as she was the signal operator at Evans Head in 1945. She lived in Yamba until 2010.
After the war all the paperwork from the station was dumped out at sea but it floated back into Evans Head for all to read. (see Wings at War)
Where did this information come from?
Information came from those who work at Evans Head Living Museum and information given by the donor.
This garment has been exhibited
The garment was on display in 2010 at the Evans Head Living Museum.
Place of origin:
Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Marjorie Boyling (nee Rippon)
From appointment as a WAAAF until end of WWII, 1945 ACW
Marjorie served at Brisbane, Bundaberg and Richmond New South Wales
Australian Military Clothing manufacturers
Trimmings / Decoration
Cap has circular hand embroidered insignia 'WAAAF' with crown, wattle? and laurel wreath at bottom
Red /black chevron hand stitched to right sleeve
Hand embroidered insignia of eagle in blue silk thread with red eye.
Fibre / Weave
Jacket: Navy blue woollen serge with glazed cotton lining across shoulders and striped cotton lining in sleeves
Skirt: Navy blue woollen serge, unlined
Cap: Navy blue woollen serge crown with leather strap band. The crown is gathered onto a wide band of black braid
- Natural dye
- Synthetic dye
This suit is very finely and professionally tailored and perfectly finished, possibly made by a man's tailor. If 27,000 suits had to be made for the new female recruits between 1941 and 1943 there was no skimping in the making of these suits.
- Hand sewn
- Machine sewn
Jacket fastens with four buttons down centre front.
Skirt fastens with two adjustable buckles at waistband, at back on either side. Side opening at left waist with four metal hooks and four thread eyes.
- Hook and eye
Stiffening / Lining / Padding
Jacket is lined with glazed cotton across shoulders and striped cotton lining in sleeves.
Skirt not lined.
|Waist||900 mm||795 mm|
|Hem circumference||1250 mm|
|Front neck to hem||565 mm|
|Front waist to hem||315 mm||680 mm|
|Back neck to hem||735 mm|
|Back waist to hem||330 mm||715 mm|
|Sleeve length||595 mm|
|Neck to sleeve head||135 mm|
|Cross back||370 mm|
|Underarm to underarm||490 mm|
|Convert to inches|
Signs of wear indicate the skirt was worn at this measurement but this could be how it fitted on the mannequin.
Regulations dictated the skirt should hang 12 inches from the ground.
Winter dress uniform.
Khaki cotton uniform would have been worn during summer and for daily work duties.
Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions
Wings at War
RAAF at Evans Head
Women in Khaki
Author: Lorna Ollif, 1981, Southwood Press Pty Ltd. Marrickville NSW 2204
Book: Corsets to Camouflage
Author: Kate Adie, 2003, Hodder & Stoughton, London
Other related objects
The museum has a significant collection including costumes, photographs, paybooks, leave passes, dog tags, various badges associated with WAAAF.Buildings e.g. dormitories still exist in 2010.
The menu from the 70th anniversary commemorative dinner on Saturday 3rd October 2009 is in the collection.
One safety pin holds name tag, inside back neck of jacket, which must be checked in case of rust damage.
Evidence of repairs
Slight discolouration under inside armpit.