Rosalie ‘driven’ to join Australian Women's Army Service

FOR more than three years in the 1940s, Rosalie Brooke chased her dream of helping with the war effort.

She was keen to be a driver, but ended up in "searchlights" at the army training camp at Kapooka, NSW.

Aged 19 in 1943, Rosalie volunteered for the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS), an entity set up in 1941 to "release men from certain military duties for employment in fighting units".

"I volunteered because I wanted to be in the services," she said.

"I was working at the old Surfers Paradise Hotel as a waitress.

"We went down to Kapooka in May and we came back in August. It was freezing."

Rosalie is one of 300 women around Australia who contributed their wartime stories to Between the Dances, a book that highlights the many ways these women made a paid or voluntary war effort.

Eventually she was sent back to driving school - learning a skill that would come in handy later in life when she taught her husband to drive.

"We were there for 18 months, at Highgate Hill (Brisbane) 68 Battery," she said.

"The Americans had come down and pushed the Japs back.

"They disbanded us and I ended up in Toowoomba, driving at Cabarlah army camp.

"Toowoomba's another place that's bloody cold."

In 1946, Rosalie left the AWAS behind and resumed her work at the hotel.

Summing up her war service, the 91-year-old Currumbin Waters resident says: "It was exciting really."

As research for Between the Dances, Melbourne-based author Jacqueline Dinan interviewed women around Australia to collect their unique accounts of "doing their bit".

Jane Curry Publishing, rebranded as Ventura Press, released the book in 2015.

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