Women would have to take on new civilian roles and join the armed forces, releasing men to fight. By 1944 over 7 million women were engaged in war work with over 640,000 in the armed forces and more than 80,000 in the Women’s Land Army. These women played a significant role in supporting the war effort and keeping the country running. Here are a few images of women serving in uniform across the armed forces in the Second World War...
Wrens (WRNS - Women’s Royal Naval Service) attached to the Fleet Air Arm, wearing pilots’ uniform, placing a wireless in a Westland Lysander in September 1942. These were the first Wrens to fly.
20-year-old Lewis Betty and Peggy Clarke of Gateshead cutting logs in a Manchester timber farm, June 1945.
Women of the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) who repaired army vehicles at a Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) workshop in 1944.
Plymouth’s team of women navvies completing their Blitz-time ambition on 7 August 1947: working alone as a team without male supervision, they have brought the house down unaided. They loved the work and would continue as an all-women gang in the future.
A woman in a Ministry of Supply munitions depot works on the caterpillar track of a tank in 1941.
These four women of the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) are working on the Rolls-Royce engine of a Hurricane, July 1942.
Extracted from Women of the Home Front, with an introduction by Elisabeth Shipton.