A hundred years ago, on 28 March 1917, the first women were enrolled into the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) and embarked for France three days later.
The WAAC was formed following Lieutenant General H M Lawson’s report of 16 January 1917 which recommended employing women in the army in France. Mrs Chalmers Watson became Chief Controller of the new organisation and recruiting began in March 1917, although the Army Council Instruction no 1069 of 1917 which formally established the WAAC was not issued until 7 July 1917.
“Every WAAC who goes to France is like the pawn who attains the top of the chessboard and is exchanged for a more valuable piece. She sends a fighting man to his job by taking on the jobs that are really a woman’s after all. For is is not woman’s earliest job to look after man?”Journalist Fryniwyd Tennyson Jesse’s thoughts on the role of WAACs