Women at Gallipoli

Did women play any part at Gallipoli, or were they all left at home? On the hospital ships, and the hospital camps at nearby islands there were nurses, and there are photos of Greek women who lived on the islands, but were there women on the peninsula itself? Were there any fighters?  This page tells some of their stories.

A secret visitor

Lilian Doughty-Wylie

Was this the only woman to land at Gallipoli? (IWM)

This woman was married to a Gallipoli hero, who was killed in April 1915. She heard about his death when she was working as a nurse in France. There were stories of a secret visitor to the hero’s grave. Was it this woman? Click on the picture to find out more.


Greek women

Greek patients at 3rd Australian General Hospital Lemnos

Greek patients at 3rd Australian General Hospital Lemnos (State Library of New South Wales)

Most of the people living on the islands around Gallipoli were Greeks. Besides running shops, farms and cafes on Lemnos, they also worked for the army as servants and labourers. These Greek women were patients at one of the military hospitals on Lemnos. We don’t know how the girl on the right was injured – obviously not on the battlefield.

Nurses

A Turkish nurse tends to a wounded soldier at Gallipoli

A Turkish nurse tends to a wounded soldier at Gallipoli (Wikipedia)

Away from the actual battlefields were hundreds of nurses, working in military hospitals and on hospital ships. Find out more here. Behind the Turkish lines there were also many nurses working in Red Crescent field hospitals, or in towns further inland and back in Istanbul.


Turkish women at work

Ottoman seamstresses at Gallipoli

Ottoman seamstresses at Gallipoli (Ottoman Archives, CC)

Local Turkish women in nearby towns like Canakkale helped the war effort. These women seem to be making tents.

A hospital romance

Nurse Clarice Daley gets married to Sgt Ernest Lawrence

Nurse Clarice Daley gets married to Sgt Ernest Lawrence (AWM P01360.001)

Marriages between soldiers and nurses were very rare. Clarice and Ernest knew each other before the war and met again when Ernest was evacuated to hospital on Lemnos. For a woman in those days, getting married meant a change of job, and Clarice had to give up being a nurse to become a full time wife. However she was able to stay on to the end of the Gallipoli Campaign before returning to Australia. See their story here.

 


Were there any female soldiers?

A captured sniper? (IWM Q 13392)

A captured sniper? (IWM Q 13392)

There were rumours that some of the Turkish snipers hiding in the trees were women. However there were no confirmed sightings and although British soldiers mentioned them in letters home, they were still just rumours. The issue is picked apart here.