“The Forgotten Women”, well not any more!!.This fine account of the critical part played by women in Britain and with British forces during WWI goes a very long way to bringing forward the story of women at war. Highly Recommended.
NAME: We Also Served, The Forgotten Women of the First World War
AUTHOR: Vivien Newman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: The Great War, WWI, World War One, First World War, nurses, ambulance drivers, munitions workers, bus drivers, production workers, farm workers, carers
DESCRIPTION: “The Forgotten Women”, well not any more!!.This fine account of the critical part played by women in Britain and with British forces during WWI goes a very long way to bringing forward the story of women at war. Highly Recommended.
There have been many views of why women working in WWI did not receive the recognition they deserved. The fact is that in the acres of books written about the Great War, very few even mention women and those that are dedicated to women at war are even rarer.
In 1918, Britain was exhausted. The population was sick of the depredations of war and the national desire was to get into party mood. There was also a great embarrassment about the part British women had played in working towards victory. Women still had not received full emancipation and men returning from war wanted their old jobs back and to relax into a way of life so many had dreamt of returning to. Women on the other hand had experienced a whole new set of experiences and the independence of their own pay packet. Many simply did not wish to return to the life before 1914.
During the war, there was also a desire to make little mention of women contributing to victory. Some of this reluctance was a belief that the Germans would be heartened to think of large parts of the female population being drawn into war service to keep Britain afloat. There were probably many other factors that conspired, but it is surprising that little was done to address this deficiency of review until the centenary of WWI.
Of course it was not new for British women to go to war. Before 1914, women had been camp followers providing necessary support for British soldiers. That tradition goes way back into history. There have also been occasions when a women has become a soldier or a sailor, but disguised as a man. Before the Middle Ages, Viking and Saxon women had fought as warriors and this warlike service continued on in the British Isles. What was different was that 1914 saw the small number of women providing war support rapidly expanded until most women, from the end of school age until late middle age ( and girls still at school or well beyond middle age), were engaged in some form of war work by 1918. There were nurses, ambulance drivers, instructors who were closely linked to the front lines and were exposed to much the same dangers as the soldiers. Many served at home, but an important number went right up to the front lines on occasions. Many performed with great bravery but were ineligible for the award of a VC. A large number worked in engineering and in munitions production, where they might come under fire from German warships hit-and-run raids on the coast and German terror bombers in airships and aircraft, dropping bombs on British soil. Even if they were not directly attacked, they were doing hard and dangerous jobs. They took over jobs on buses and trains that were vacant because the male workers had joined up to fight. Women worked in the fields and in the food factories. In addition to those joining new organizations for women, those not directly engaged in war work made up food parcels and knitted socks and other essential clothing for sailors and soldiers, making an enormous difference to those engaged, in the terrible conditions of war, fighting the enemy.
The author has comprehensively covered the ways in which women made a great difference during wartime. The text reads smoothly and debunks some of the myths. The photo plate section contains a range of images that compliment the text and add strongly to the content.