Gladys Elva Mole was born on December 8th 1913, in Swan Hill, and trained as a nurse in Bendigo. On May 9th 1940, at the age of 26, she enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) alongside a group of Sisters from the local hospital, embarking on a journey that would push them all to their limits and require courage, compassion and spades of determination
Gladys set sail for the Middle East aboard the troopship SS Mauretania from Melbourne on September 13th 1940. Throughout her tenure in the AANS, she provided invaluable nursing care in diverse theatres of war, including Palestine, Tobruk, Colombo, Queensland, Borneo, and Singapore.
Nurses working in field hospitals during WW2 faced extraordinarily tough conditions: they were often situated close to the front lines and were exposed to the constant threat of enemy attack, while the sheer volume of wounded soldiers, and the lack of medical supplies, clean water and proper medical facilities pushed all the nurses to their limits, testing their endurance and ingenuity.
After leaving the Middle East Gladys was posted to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). There she nursed men who had endured the hardships of being Prisoners of War under Japanese captivity, serving aboard the Australian Hospital Ship ‘The MV Manunda.’
After Ceylon, Gladys embarked for Labuan (now part of Malaysia) on May 21st 1945, contributing to the medical efforts in Singapore before eventually returning to Australia.
Her distinguished service culminated in an honourable discharge from the Army with the rank of Captain on February 27th 1946.
Gladys Elva Mole’s unwavering commitment was recognised with six medals, which testify to her exceptional service and the dedication she showed to her patients. These accolades include the 1939-45 Star, The Africa Star, The Pacific Star, a Defence Medal, a War Medal 1939-45, and an Australian Service Medal.