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
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.