The Great War Part 244, April 19th 1919

22 The Great War I think that I may justly say that it was from these beginnings that the vast organisations of women serving with the forces and on the land sprang for it was the Legion’s Military Cookery Section numbering over 30000 members, and the Motor Transport Section which after two years of successful work under the War Office formed the nucleus of the Womens Army Auxiliary Corps on its inauguration in March 1917. The formation of a Womens Royal Naval Service followed shortly after and later that of a Women’s Royal Air Force. Then it was that in recognition of the gallant behaviour of theW .A .A .C.s during the terrible days of the German inoffensive the spring of 1918 her Majesty the Queen signified her desire to become the Commander-in- Chief. The final seal of the Royal approval was thus given to the corps, which was renamed Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps. It is an unquestionable fact that the efforts of the 15000 women of the Land Army contributed greatly to the keeping of our food supplies at a high level despite the U boat campaign. Cheerfully and energetically they under­took even the heaviest work in spite of wind weather difficulties of housing, and many other adversities and their success as a war emergency measure was undeniable. The continued employ­ment of women for the heavier forms of agricultural labour maybe doubted, as they cannot be said to be really fitted for it nor would they be willing to undertake it except for patriotic motives. Nevertheless in all the lighter forms of work and particularly in the branches of stock feeding and management poultry-keeping and fruit and market gardening they amply proved their economic value. One of the most interesting developments of the war was the employment of women on many of the semi-skilled and skilled processes of munition making and aircraft production, hitherto entirely carried out by men and in these trades they achieved the most marked successes. They came forward in their hundreds of thousands to release those called up for military service. Indeed some of the more recent and delicate forms of work connected with wireless apparatus and aircraft instruments were undertaken directly by the women, who thus proved their aptitude for this class of technical work. The same maybe said of the women who stepped into the clerical posts vacated by the men both in the Government departments and in the countless banks and offices which employed them. Their attention to detail and ability to organise the necessary routine of duties made them conspicuously successful in all branches of clerical labour, and in view of the marked disinclination of a great number of the men serving with the Army to return to such sedentary work the continued employment of women in these posts appears certain. It is througli the very wide field of their war activities, and the strong desire manifested by so large a majority to undertake national service that the women proved their fitness for a share in public life and it is a fitting recognition of this desire that the power to vote and the possibility of entering Parliament are now theirs. The Work of the V.A.D. B y Lady Amp th ill. Voluntary Aid Detachments first came into existence in 1909 their original purpose being to have in readiness bands of trained voluntary workers to assist the regular nurses if Britain were invaded. As the name suggests they were voluntary workers and were organised locally in detach­ments. When the war broke out in August, 1914 there were no fewer than 40,018 women enrolled as members of the 1582 detachments scattered allover the country. These were at once mobilised as need arose for the numerous auxiliary hospitals— that is hospitals controlled by the Joint War Committee of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem as distinct from those owned by the Admiralty or War Office— which sprang into existence. All kinds of buildings were placed at the disposal of the authorities the residences of the wealthy school buildings, town-halls and other public and private establishments were amongst those offered and utilised. The extent to which these auxiliary hospitals grew as the need increased maybe gathered from the fact that at the time of the signing of the armistice there were about 1450 of them. These were mainly staffed by voluntary part-time members with usually a few resident workers. Before two months of war had elapsed however it was seen that work awaited the V.A.D. abroad and in October, 1914 immediately after the Joint War Committee of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem had been established the first V.A.D. unit left for Bassano. LADY AMPTHILL G.B.E. Representative of the Voluntary Aid Detachment and member of the Queen Alexandra Army Nursing Board. ROYAL INSPECTION OF V.A.D. MOTOR-AMBULANCE DRIVERS ON ACTIVE SERVICE. Princess Mary's V.A.D. chauffeur and (right) motor-ambulance drivers of the successful displaying the greatest skill courage and endurance. Their Voluntary Aid Detachment on service in France being inspected by Princess wonderful gallantry during the iniquitous German raid on Etaples when Mary herself a V.A.D. commandant. These drivers proved triumphantly two sections were driving all night won four Military Medals.
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