Women’s Work 100- it ‘WAS’ a mans world.

11 September 2018 | Anna Hook

Although some women were already in work when the First World War began, the war opened up new employment opportunities for women, allowing them to serve King and country both at home and away.

Queen Marie of Romania- The royal nurse.

A royal like no other, steeped in the most prominent of royal lineages, Queen Marie of Romania did not hide from the war in the comforts her birth had afforded her, instead she charged into the fight. Firstly she convinced her ‘weak- willed’ husband King Ferdinand to enter the war in alliance with Russia, France and the UK. Secondly she devoted herself to the war effort, by supporting military hospitals by arranging medical support, unloading the wounded off the trucks from the front line and raised money for the wounded. This role model for the ages even summoned her powerful connections to secure a unified Romania in the Paris Peace Conference. Where some of high birth saw the world crumbling around them from the comfort of their grand houses, Queen Marie threw herself into the conflict to help the wounded soldiers and took charge where her husband could not, a woman ahead of her time.

Women’s Royal Naval Service- The First Domino.

Established in November 1917 the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), saw women in military service for the first time and was the catalyst for the creation of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) and the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). These trailblazers were drivers, telegraphers and technical workers. The fact they were women did not keep them from danger for example, Josephine Carr who was a Clerk for the WRNS died aged 19 on the SS Leinster after the ship was struck with a torpedo on October 10th 1918.

The Girl Porters in the House of Commons- Eight feet in the door.

 

Long before mobile phones, laptops and emails, there was Elsie and Mabel Clark (aged 16 and 14), Dorothy Hart (age 18) and Vera Goldsmith (age 16). These four women were the first to work in the House of Commons, in an occupation that did not involve cooking and cleaning, instead they were entrusted with the transportation of letters and other important documents around the Commons.

Collections

The Kent History and Library Centre

The Kent History and Library Centre’s First World War collection gives us a snapshot of the impact the First World War had upon the small towns and villages in Kent. This incredible collection also consists of letters, postcards and photographs from the soldiers and sailors serving in the war. This collection was created by Mrs Elizabeth Quinton Strouts of Singleton Manor, she dedicated herself to helping her town of Great Chart through this dark time in our history, by visiting parents of fallen soldiers, visiting the wounded in hospital and even taking them to the train station to see them off to war. Mrs Strouts is an example of the fierce women fighting the war from home.

IWM Collections- Women’s War Work Exhibition.

In November 1918 the Whitechapel Art Gallery saw 82,000 visitors because of the Women’s Work exhibition which highlighted female casualties of the First World War. The fact there were female casualties shocked the British public. This was part of the Imperial War Museums Women’s Work Collection. More information on this ground-breaking collection can be found here.