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Two contemporary official publications vividly reveal the pragmatic femininity of WAAAF experience.
However Jean Lawson's unpublished War Diary of a WAAAF, (25) a memoir of officer training in Melbourne, is more ambiguous.
The education and training she instituted in the WAAAF was clearly meant to overcome women's lack of general knowledge and foster in them a well-founded sense of independence.
She carried small note books and made sketches of WAAAF and RAAF personnel at times when there was a lot of waiting to be done.
Two of Elsa's colleagues, Gai Bartley (nee Fairbairn) and Pearl Batchelor, who served with her in her first years of the WAAAF, have no recollection of her painting.
Besides bad language all three women did indeed find the WAAAF to be rough.
This nostalgia partly explains the uniformly positive attitudes held to their experiences in the WAAAF. (7)
veterans had adopted and used the Anzac legend because it was resonant and useful in their own remembering'.8 While women of the WAAAF do not have any presence in the public and official articulation of the Anzac legend, the similarities in the testimony of the women I interviewed suggested that they too adhere to a common narrative--one of the experience of independence, camaraderie and an absence of prejudice against women, which restrained them after they left the WAAAF.
(9) Experiences of the WAAAF were extremely important to the women I interviewed.
The habit of differentiating oneself from those who had not served was common, and has appeared in many autobiographical accounts of time spent in the WAAAF, as well as in oral testimonies.
One of the first questions that I asked the women whilst interviewing them was 'why did you want to join the WAAAF?' In her article 'Gender and War in the Twentieth Century', Penny Summerfield states that 'women generally campaigned for greater inclusion into the war effort because of patriotism and a drive to participate rather than feminist ideals or a desire to change gender roles'.
All three women were clearly proud of the work that they had done while in the WAAAF. However, none of them were willing to appear unabashedly proud, as they did not want the part they played in the war effort to be seen as anything special with respect to the contribution of other WAAAF women.
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