Historical Background to WRANS Memorial at HMAS Harman


Author: Brian Rowe

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The WRANS memorial at HMAS Harman was dedicated on 1 July 2003 on the 60th anniversary of the commissioning of HMAS Harman. It is appropriate that it is located at Harman as the first women to enter the WRANS in 1941 joined the RAN Wireless/Transmitting Station Canberra, subsequently commissioned on 1 July, 1943 as HMAS Harman.

This memorial to the WRANS and all women who have or are serving in the RAN was designed by Lieutenant Commander David Manolas, RANR, who was the Major Events Coordinator at Harman in 2003.

In designing the Memorial, David was mindful that the WRANS served primarily in shore establishments or ‘stone frigates’ as they were more commonly known, hence the shape of a building as the main form of the structure. The sides of the ‘stone frigate’ building are covered in tiles the colour of the sea, to recognise the WRANS' work supporting those at sea. On either side of the memorial is a bollard to represent the ties between those on shore and those at sea.

Sandstone sits on top of the memorial with three distinct capping pieces. One each for the two service periods of the WRANS 1941-46 and 1951-85 with the third representing the ongoing contribution to the Navy of female members of the RAN. The sandstone is also reflective of the seabed and the seashore.

At the rear of the memorial, two flagpoles fly the Australian White Ensign, introduced in 1967, and the White Ensign, which was flown by the RAN from its inception until 1967. The latter is in recognition of the period in which the WRANS first served.

The WRANS Crest is fixed to the front of the memorial. The information plate at the front and a bench seat under a tree in the foreground allow those who wish to sit and reflect upon the deeds and memories of those who have served and those who currently serve.

Contributed by Judith Rowe

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