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Florence Jean Baker

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Florence Baker

Awarded for service to Defence

Born: 13 January 1920

Died: 8 May 2007

Entered on roll: 2009

Florence Jean Baker (nee Crawford) was born in Launceston on 13 January 1920. A successful student, sportswoman and fondly remembered mother, Jean inspired many as an exceptional role model during WWII.

In her early days at school, Jean underlined a quote from one of her school principals “…for these higher things are not only knowledge and scholastic attainments, but the higher graces of character and above all service.” This sentiment epitomised how Jean lived her life.

Jean has been described as a gentlewoman who sought no recognition but who quietly contributed to and served her community. She had great enthusiasm and excelled at what she did. A keen tennis player, she became both singles and doubles champion of Tasmania. In later years she was an A-grade champion at bowls.

However, her great determination and courage was manifest during WWII. Jean joined the Australian Women’s Army Service in 1942 and was commissioned as one of the first two female officers from Tasmania. By the end of the war, Jean was the Commanding Officer of the female barracks in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The then 26 year old Tasmanian female officer was given the responsibility for hundreds of female soldiers who served in the Pacific.

Her courage and service has been well recognised. For her services in WWII, Jean Baker was awarded the 1939-1945 Star; Pacific Star; 1939-1945 British War Medal; 1939-1945 Australian War Medal; and the 1945-1975 Australian Service Medal (PNG).

Following the war, and as a young mother, Jean continued her contribution to her community. She became one of the first welfare officers in Tasmania. She also joined the Australian Army Medical Women's Service and served as its President for 50 years. Jean is also remembered for her service to the Royal United Services Institute, where she was made Life Member for her outstanding contribution. Jean died in Hobart on 8 May 2007.

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