This book is about women in World Wars I & II - women working in factories and on farms, or toiling perilously in field stations just behind the front lines, in inhospitable hospitals and convalescent homes. It is, therefore, about the prodigious contribution women made to the war efforts from 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, standing in for the men who had left their places of work for the various theatres of war from Greece and Italy to Belgium, from Mesopotamia to France. Their tasks were many and various: keeping the troops supplied with shells, bullets and explosives, keeping the nation from starving to death, keeping hundreds of thousands of wounded troops alive so that they might fight another day. The book is, in short, the uplifting but sometimes tragic story of the many women who stepped up to work in the factories, hospitals, field stations, in transport and in civil defence, on the farms and shipyards, or signed up to the various military and civil services during the two world wars of the 20th century, ‘wars to end all wars…’.
The book is different because it deals with women’s labour in both world wars and in all occupations, it covers the discrimination and prejudice they faced from men at every level, military and civilian, even when they had demonstrated beyond doubt that they were quick learners, industrious and proficient, and usually as good as any man. The book raises the embarrassing question why it has it taken so long for the prodigious contribution women made in both wars to be recognised, and why some women workers still remain air brushed from our military history after more than a century.
As it turned out, little was beyond their capabilities and it is reasonable to suppose that without their huge efforts and accomplishments both wars might have turned out very differently for us.