Ayneslie Dawson (nee Steeles)

To coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Henley and Grange RSL on May 11th, 2024 and to highlight the important but often forgotten, contributions of women during wartime, the H&GHS proudly unveils Part 1 of a six part series of videos chronicling the remarkable life of Ayneslie (Anne) Dawson from her upbringing in Grange to her later experiences serving in the Australian Women’s Army Service during WW II.

Foreground: Ayneslie Dawson (nee Steeles) – 2024
Background: War Service Record Ayneslie Steeles – 1942 [NAA: B884, SF84185]


Ayneslie, (or Anne to her friends) was one of the few women living in Henley and Grange during this time to join the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) in response to the threat faced by Australia during World War II.  She was deployed to various locations in the Northern Territory, including Alice Springs, Adelaide River, and Darwin, from November 1942 to May 1945. 

Ayneslie was a trained singer, and while in the AWAS, she became the lead singer in “Wheels Within Wheels”, a concert held for service personnel in Alice Springs where she sang to 7,000 service men and women over 5 nights. She was also the first person to sing on the first radio station in Darwin, 5DR and was the lead singer in many concerts entertaining troops in Adelaide River, Larrimah and Darwin.

Ayneslie appreciated serving and being able to do her part when necessary. She reached the rank of signalwoman and was discharged in February 1946.

The Henley and Grange Historical Society had the privilege of capturing Ayneslie’s war time recollections in April 2024 thanks to the acquisition of new video recording equipment funded through a DWA grant from the City of Charles Sturt. Joined by her daughter Julie, Ayneslie (now 101 years old) graciously welcomed society members into her home, sharing memories of her upbringing in Grange and her later experiences in the AWAS. This collaborative effort has resulted in the creation of a series of videos to honor Ayneslie’s remarkable life.

Other installments of Ayneslie’s life in Grange will be added soon!


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