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World War 2 The Home Front (The Changing Role of Women) WW 2

Womans Voluntary Service Badge


Women At War

When it comes to warfare we think of men fighting against men on a battlefield in the sky on land or at sea.

We forget that in order for those men to fight on the front line that behind the scenes there are millions of people working hard to keep them going with supplies of food clothing and ammunition.

These forgotten people were vital in Britains war effort they kept the home fires burning, they worked in the fields to keep the country supplied with food, the took the place of the young men who went into battle in factories, working long hours doing manual labour and they also looked after the children and ran homes as the young men fought.

5 million women helped to fill the roles of the menfolks who were on the battlefleds

These Women of Britain were the unsung hero's of world War 2 and they should never be forgotten.


Women Working In an Aircraft Factory


Women in a Mens World

With all of the young men fighting on the front line the factories of Britain became severely under staffed production was falling constanly and the only people available to fill the posts were men who were unable to go to war because of age or health.

Although the women were keen to get into the factories because they knew that they could earn far much more money than they ever could before the outbreak of the war, the Government were reluctant to let them into this kind of employment mainly because of pressure from the trade unions who thought that women were weaker and inferior and would not fit into the roles that were considered masculine.the trade unions also felt that if women did work in the factories that they should not earn as much as their male counterparts.

The Government also feared the by having women in the workplace home and family life would suffer, children would be neglected, homes wouldnot be looked after and mealtimes would find nothing made for husbands in reserved occupations and family life would be a shambles.

but the Government had to relent in the end because of the sheer amount of male volunteers into the armed forces and in 1941 the Government issued a registration of employment order for all males and females between the age of 18-65 to register for war work.

in December 1941 Britain made history when they introduced the National sevice act number 2 because it not only made war work compulsory for everyone but it made britian the first nation in the world to conscript women.

The only way to get the factories back up to speed was to allow women onto the factory floor and into the jobs that were considered mens work.

For the first time women were operating heavy machinary, turning lathes, stoking boilers . they made the supplies for the battle fields shells, airplanes, tanks the women in the factories of Britain kept the troops well supplied to fight their enemy as the war rumbled on women were working in the factories for 80 hours a week, especially in the aircraft factories which were needed because of the constant barrage of German bombers women were asked to work between 100-120 hours every week.

Women at War on Amazon

Women of the Womens Land Army


The Womens Land Army

Feeding the troops and keeping Britain supplied with enough food became a difficult task simply because enemy forces were blocking shipping routes, farms around the country were producing more food than ever before and workers were needed to help plant harvest and look after livestock, again women were depended upon to fill these roles and the Women's land army was born out of this necessity for farm workers.

farm working was long and hard the women worked 12 hours a day no matter what the weather, in muddy fields but they most of the time kept their spirits up knowing that they were doing it for their country and for the men who were fighting for freedom.

Princess Elizabeth With Her Ambulance


Women In The Emergency Services

Women were also conscripted into the emergency services for the first time women were fighting fires, driving ambulances manning first aid stations and there were a few women conscripted into the police force.

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Girls as young as 14 years old were conscripted too, and they were often seen fighting fires ,delivering telegrams and manning the first aid posts.

Princess Elizabeth the future Queen also became involved and served as an ambulance driver

Female Test Pilots


Women In The Armed Forces

From the age of 17 Women could volunteer to work in the armed foces in an auxiliary role, The ATS( Auxiliary territorial service) for the army,The WAAF (Womans Auxiliary Air Force)The RAF and The WRNS(Womans Royal Navy Service) for the Royal Navy.

Women were not at this time expected to fight on the front line but they played a massive supporting role for the troops who were.

A womans role was restricted to secretarial work, catering and Nursing, in the early days of the war but later women were trained to bear arms in case they were required to fightand  ladies were test flying aircraft and taking up posts usually filled by males freeing the men to fight for their country.

Britains Unsung Hero's

 Without the massive effort and sacrifice made by the Women of world War 2 Britain would have been on its knees, they kept not only the armed forces supplied with everything that they needed but they kept Britain supplied too.

They even managed to have some fun on the way and have time to look after their families, they worked had and they played hard these are the true hero's of world war 2.


queenie on November 22, 2012:

great very interesting i think you should put more detail but besides that good job and han is awesome



Jimmy the jock (author) from Scotland on June 21, 2012:

Hi Greta click on the small picture of me at the top of this page and it will take you to my profile where you will find my real name.....jimmy

Greta on June 20, 2012:

hi, ive used some of this information in an essay for school, i was just wondering how i could refference this?

Jimmy the jock (author) from Scotland on June 19, 2012:

Hi Rene, thanks for sharing part of your story, I would love to hear more. I hope you have a great day next week at Bletchley Park. congratulations on your medal.....jimmy

Rene Akeroyd Pedersen on June 19, 2012:

I served as a Special Y group operator in the ATS 1943-49 Sworn to secrecy for 30 years. Our coded messages sent by Morse were forwarded to Bletchley Park to be decoded.Our work shortened the war by 2-4 years. Got a medal a few years ago and I am going to the museum at B:P: next week.

COLIN SEEGER on May 21, 2012:


jimmythejock on May 19, 2012:

Most satisfactory

smurf on March 19, 2012:

it really helped me with my homework

bill on February 17, 2012:

how many women became nurses during ww2?

Harry on October 10, 2011:

Class were using your stuff as part of our gcse exam!

Bye on October 06, 2011:

Very helpful information to complete my school assignment thanks!!

bob on April 21, 2011:


Alana on December 24, 2010:

Thanks so much for this information! Helped me a lot with my research. well at least people are seeing how valuable we are lol..I have a question though, is this only about women in Britain or you meant Candaian women fighting overseas(Britain)? Thanks again

happystudent on October 27, 2010:

very informative thankyou. this should help with my history exam tomorrow. it is a source study on ww2 but apparently we need to know the contrasts between the role of women in world war one and world war2 in australia.

am i right in saying that the role of women in ww1 was very limited as women were considered as incapable and inferior so they only had limited contribution to the war effort such as volunteer work and nursing? and also, in ww2, women were able to become far more involved with major roles in auxilary forces?

Rafini from Somewhere I can't get away from on March 18, 2010:

Thank you for highlighting the role women played during WWII. It's nice to see.

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on December 15, 2009:

Another nice hub, Jimmy. My mother often spoke proudly of having been a "Rosie the Riviter" in New York, where she worked in Tarrytown at the Eastern Aircraft Corporation riviting airplanes. "Rosie" was a fictional character made popular by Norman Rockwell's image on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. A government image of "Rosie" became even more popular in a "We Can Do It" poster.

Women's role in World War II has been severely underplayed in the U.S. as well as in Great Britain.

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on December 10, 2009:

Another, somewhat controversial, example of the changing role of women. Suggest you pay a call on the Archbishop of Canterbury and tell him to shape up or ship out!

bill oneill on December 10, 2009:


Good Show! Your article is well researched and touches a subject that little is known outside England. Your article helps spread the word that women in all the warring nations' work force, freed men who were badly needed at the front.

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on December 10, 2009:

Hello Jimmy,

Thanks for this interesting Hub. We agree that women do not get mentioned often enough in accounts of WW2. Apart from factory work, the Land Army must have been tremendously hard work for women. Feeding a family when food was rationed must have been difficult.

We are enjoying your little series of WW2 history hubs.

P & T

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on December 09, 2009:

Jimmy - thank you for writing this. My mum was one of these volunteer women while my dad was on service overseas. (I was not born till '52, after the war was over). Happily, they both survived into their eighties, peace be upon them.

Jimmy the jock (author) from Scotland on December 09, 2009:

Thankyou for your comment Hello Hello, The Women of the wars were the begining of the end of male domination in the workforce, and the beginning of a new independent woman who could fend for herself without the need of a man.

they paved the way for today's woman.....jimmy

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 09, 2009:

Would it be a bit of male conspiracy? When they came back they had to admit that women could do the same as man. This would be hard considering the precious male pride, especially in those days more than nowadays. Why man always have to lean on women and keep them down. They always seem to be so worried to loose their little throne.

Thank you for this lovely hub and given them your praise and acknowledgement.

Jimmy the jock (author) from Scotland on December 09, 2009:

Thanks for sharing that information Ralph,I am researching the American way of life during WW2 at the moment, it is funny that Womens efforts seem to be forgotten and there is not much information to be found on the net about the roles they played.....jimmy

P.S good to see you Ralph

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on December 09, 2009:

Nice Hub, Jimmie, as usual.

Women entered the factory workforce in the U.S. also during WWII. However, they were pretty much confined to non-skilled production jobs until the 1960s. The first woman was accepted to the General Motors-United Automobile Workers apprentice program (toolmaker) at the AC Spark Plug Division of GM in Flint, Michigan, in 1966 or thereabouts. Now women are employed on all jobs in U.S. industry from production workers to CEOs. They can also be found in the military service on the battlefields alongside men, straight men, that is.

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