The Great War Part 244, April 19th 1919

WOMENS WORK IN THE GREAT WAR. Introduction by the Marchioness of Londonderry. Response of Women to the Nations Call— Birth of the Women's Legion— Its Various Offshoots— Work of the Land Army— Womens Share in Munition Making— The V.A.D. at the Outbreak of the War— Their Early Activities in France— They Undertake the Actual Work of Nursing— V.A.D. General Service Section— V.A.D. Workers Sent to the East— Care of the Workers Themselves— Arrangements for their Future Training— Women Doctors— A Hospital Staffed Entirely by Women— Women in the Medical Profession— The War Service Legion— Its Several Sections— Its Work for Agriculture— Soldiers' and Sailors Work Section— Disabled Men Trained to Make Embroidery— Keen and Successful Workers Come Forward— The Q.M.A.A.C. Originates as the W.A.A.C.— Heroism of Its Members in France in 1918— The Land Army— Its Inception— Farmers and the Lasses— Value of their Work— Successes and Failures— W.R.N.S. or “Wrens”— Nature of their Work— Uniform and Payment— Police—Women First a Voluntary Organisation— The Work Develops— Women Patrols Given Official Status— Women in Industrial Life— Figures Showing How they Took the Place of Men— Munition Workers— Varieties of Occupation— Measures for Health and Protection— Aeroplane Workers— Wireless Workers— Transport Workers— Women Drive the Mails— The Mothers at Work— Their Difficulties Especially Financial Ones. influence of the Great W aron the sphere, of womens activities is a subject so far-T Sri reaching and so vast in its scope that the jWj limits of this chapter will not allow of more lan t a general review of the admirable way Sd- w ^ jn which women of all classes responded to the national need for their services. It will thus form a continuation of the earlier account given in Chapter XC. This response maybe divided into two main categories. First the magnificent work of the nursing services and the V.A.D .and of all those who undertook the care and welfare of the wounded the prisoners and refugees and the suffering populations of the invaded countries. The organisation, courage and devotion with which these self-imposed duties were carried out often in the most trying circumstances cannot be praised too highly and the long Roll of Honour among these women is a fitting testimony to their willing self-sacrifice. This admir­able work however did not con­stitute so great a departure from the preconceived ideas of women’s capabilities as did another field of activity for throughout history they have given ample proof of their ability for such sacrifices. It is in the sphere of the sub­stitution of women for men that the outstanding feature of women’s work during the war maybe looked Therefor. was hardly an essential occupation in which they THE MARCHIONESS OF LONDONDERRY. When the Womens Emergency Corps came into existence in 1914 Lady Londonderry accepted the position of Colonel-in- Chief and later that of Commandant of the Womens Legion. did not come forward to take the place of the men called to the Colours. This idea— that women would be needed to take the place of men fit for combatant service— became evident to meas early as 1914 and although the suggestion that they could do so both with the Army and on the land, was at first considered utterly fantastic by the great majority, I was encouraged to persevere by the belief and enthusiasm of the few. The Womens Emergency Corps first came into existence in 1914, at the old Bedford College for Women in Baker Street affiliated to it and with its energies directed from under the same roof the Womens Volunteer Reserve was formed with the Hon. Mrs. Haver- field as honorary colonel and Mrs. Charlesworth a s commanding officer. I was asked to become the colonel-in-chief of the reserve and accepted the honorary position. The spirit of the movement found its expression involuntary service and discipline and the cry of all was“ organise sous that we maybe efficient and may give of our best to our country.” In December, 1914 a large meeting was held at the Mansion House followed shortly after by atone Londonderry House which saw the birth of the Womens Legion. Our first organised activities con­sisted in the formation of a Military Cookery Section working under the War Office to replace male cooks with the Army and an Agricultural Section for the furthering of the em­ployment of women in agriculture. 021
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