The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in France, 1917-1921, Women Urgently Wanted

The author has provided a unique glimpse into the world of women at war. The Great War needed women to be mobilized in large numbers to make up for the loss of men, creating a revolution in society. Much Recommended

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NAME: The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in France, 1917-1921, Women 
Urgently Wanted
FILE: R2449
AUTHOR:  Samantha Philo-Gill
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back 
PAGES:  204
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War One, World War 1, First World War, Great War, 
trench warfare, Western Front. BEF, British Expeditionary Force, British 
Army, women at war, nursing, field hospitals
ISBN: 1-47383-359-0
IMAGE: B2449.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/gkqw68b
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: The author has provided a unique glimpse into the world of 
women at war.  The Great War needed women to be mobilized in large numbers 
to make up for the loss of men, creating a revolution in society. 
Much Recommended 

When war broke out in 1914, Britain was largely unprepared, as it usually 
is at the start of a war. The price of democracy is that a huge initial 
advantage is handed to any despot who wants to chance his arm. British 
history is a story of an ill-prepared start, followed by a courageous 
fight against odds, followed by a race to correct the deficiencies of 
peace-time politicians, concluded with total victory. The Great War was 
therefore following in a British tradition. In 1914, the challenges were 
even greater as this was to be a war of many new technological innovations 
and a desire by the enemy for total war to include all civilians.

The BEF that marched off to war in 1914 was a small but highly trained and 
reasonably equipped force with elan, discipline and endurance. The Germans 
dismissed this force as a 'contemptible little army' and were rudely 
awakened when this small force blunted and then halted the German advance, 
destroying the potential German advantage of a quick advance to defeat 

France. Small units fought with such courage that the Germans thought they 
had found the complete BEF, only to see the units melt away, reform and 
again cause serious damage to the much larger German force. In a remarkable 
act of co-operation, for two armies that had no previous experience of 
fighting together, the exhausted BEF and the French armies managed to counter 
attack with such force that they sent the Germans reeling back towards their 
own borders. It was an amazing display of arms but the BEF was just too 
exhausted to complete the moves and the Germans had just enough time to dig 
in and start the terrible trench war that was to occupy the rest of the 
conflict on the Western Front. The war of attrition was to not only consume 
large numbers of young men, but to see huge pressure on Britain to switch 
to a war economy and create the tools of victory. For the first time British 
civilians were in the front line, fighting with as much determination as the 
troops in the trenches.

There was simply no pool of available labour to operate all of the civilian 
tasks with men. The only alternative was for women to take up new rolls in 
addition to the more traditional female duties that still had to be done. 
Women drove trams, ambulances and goods lorries. They worked on the railways 
and tilled the fields. There was very little at home that was not done by 
women. Volunteers soon found their way to France and performed essential tasks 
close to the trenches as the vanguard of women in the Army. Society was 
revolutionized. Women not only did the work of men, some of it at least as 
dangerous and exhausting as fighting from the trenches, but they earned money 
to spend for themselves. This was empowering and built up new tensions on the 
conclusion of war as men returned and expected to take up their old jobs.

Against this background, it is perhaps surprising that the Army did not 
directly employ women earlier. It was not until 1917 that the Women's Army 
Auxiliary Corps was formed and sent to France. After a late start, the Corps 
continued to serve into peacetime and was not disbanded until 1921.

During their service, women served as cooks, drivers, signallers, clerks, 
and as gardeners in the growing number of war cemeteries. Some 57,000 served 
at home and in France.

This remarkable story has been well-researched and told well by the author. 
There is also a modest photo-plate section with some interesting and rare images.

The author has a strong interest in the progress to female emancipation and has 
reviewed the wider legacy in the final chapter by looking at how women have been 
remembered in art, literature, museums and memorials. This nicely rounds the 
story and provides some fresh insight.