The University of Western Australia Historical Society (UWAHS) has compiled this nominal roll of University men and women who served in the Second World War to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of that war.
The names listed here are a 'best guess', based on lists of staff, students and graduates found in the University Archives and other sources. Where we have a full name and date of birth, we can be reasonably certain that names in the Department of Veterans Affairs nominal roll for World War II are a match with the UWA individual.
However, sometimes we have only a nickname, initials or one forename. In such cases, we cannot be sure that we have the correct individual. Here, place of enlistment has enabled us to narrow our search. However, there were individuals who had identical names but different birth dates and place of birth, making identification more difficult. Some men enlisted in overseas forces, and although some information is available to us, we have not yet had access to their service records. These, and other instances which are still under investigation, are indicated with an asterisk (*).
The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) nominal rolls have been compiled from service records and other records held in the National Archives of Australia. We have found that there are some typographical errors in the DVA transcriptions, but they are generally reliable.
The National Archives files can be searched, and some records have been digitized, allowing us to gain further information on an individual's service.
Many UWA students who served in the War never graduated. The Wolff Royal Commission into the administration of the University, which presented its report in 1942, found that around 50% of the students who enrolled in the years leading up to the War did not graduate within five years, and so called for more stringent admission requirements. On the basis of the present search, this figure did not change very much as a result of the War. Post-war assistance to servicemen and women to attend university will have made a significant contribution to rates of graduation. Some individuals on this list later completed medical degrees at other universities because UWA did not open a Medical School until 1957. During these years, many Teachers' College students enrolled in single university units before country postings made it difficult to complete a full course.
On the basis of the present search, this figure did not change very much as a result of the war. Post-war assistance to servicemen and women to attend University made a significant contribution to rates of graduation.
An estimated 53 UWA people died at war. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website has enabled us to identify the final resting place of those who died in battle or otherwise while on service. A significant number of men died in flying accidents while in Australia.
The DVA nominal roll identifies prisoners of war, as well as honours awarded. A number of RAAF men were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, including one awarded to Stan Dilkes by the American Air Force, which does not appear on his DVA record. The names of UWA students and graduates who went on to high public office appear in the records, including the Hon. Billy Snedden and Mr Justice Virtue. Surgeon Lieutenant Alan John Gray served on the HMAS Sydney until just a few months before its final voyage. Engineering undergraduates and graduates often chose the RAAF for their war service. Many stayed in the forces throughout their careers, rising to the highest ranks.
University women also served, some in personnel roles, others in hospitals, and one appears to have been a gunner. Sheila McClemans left her mark on the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service. A number of women undertook 'war effort' without enlisting and thus do not appear in the nominal roll. Architect, Margaret Pitt Morison was a camoufleuse, designing camouflage for silos and other port storage installations. Lecturer in French, Jean Randall, was honoured by the French government with a Palme d'Or for her work with the Free French Resistance. Kathleen Gordon (BA 1922) was leader of the National Fitness Council's women's training course as part of Australia's War effort, eventually rising to the position of Commonwealth National Fitness Officer.
The DVA records show only the position of an individual on discharge from the forces. The heroic service of many university staff, students and graduates can only be revealed through personal reminiscence or digitized service records. We welcome your feedback. If you find an error, or if you would like to share further information about a serviceman or woman, please contact the UWA Historical Society at [email protected].
Dr Margaret Warburton
Dr Joan Pope OAM