Shirley Croxon shares Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps experiences

This year’s spotlighted veterans (L-R) Chris Fredericks, Shirley Croxon and Roy Day at the Tea Gardens RSL sub-Branch meeting before ANZAC Day this year.

AMONG the veterans’ groups represented on ANZAC Day this year will be the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC), including Shirley Croxon from the Tea Gardens RSL sub-Branch.

Shirley, spoke to NOTA about her experiences, which included 23 years in the WRAAC.

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“I joined in 1967, following in my Father’s footsteps in enlisting,” Shirley said.

“He was a genuine digger on the Western Front in WWI, and served again in WWII.

“I looked at his example and believed he’d certainly given his service to the country, and I could do something, too.

“The WRAAC was formed post-WWII, as the Government realised that they needed women ready, available, and capable in several support positions.”

When she joined the Reserves, Shirley’s civilian job as a full-time physical education teacher saw her given the role of instructor with the Reserve, backed up by her post-graduate studies in sociology.

An instructor for several years, Major Croxon was then posted to the Reserve Civil and Staff College (RCSC) in Melbourne, as the officer responsible for validation of the College’s three promotional courses: Junior course (Leftentants to Captains), Intermediate (Captains to Majors), and Senior (Majors to Leftenant-Colonels), covering subjects including military operations, tactics, leadership, military law and administration.

Shirley also had the opportunity to travel with serving Army personnel to witness where her father had fought in France, and then to ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli for ANZAC Day.

“Sitting there, looking at the Cove, you can just hear the gentle water.

“It is so emotional, thinking of what happened there,” Shirley explained.

“HMAS Australia was in the waters that ANZAC Day, too, and the two national anthems were played by the military band, it was very moving.

“The Turkish people were very kind to us, we were actually surprised to be applauded at the Turkish Memorial, and it shows how two countries can respect each other, especially as former enemies.”

Shirley has also been fortunate enough to visit Istanbul twice – the original goal of the Gallipoli landings.

On the realities of being a Reservist, Shirley is realistic and open.

“We go through the same training, and can meet and work with people from all different trades, professions and backgrounds.”

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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