The Role Of British Women In World War Ii

2248 words - 9 pages

Plan of Investigation
This investigation will evaluate the question, to what extent did the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force assist the Allies’ war efforts during the Second World War? This question is important because in World War 1 British women were active in the war effort but to a limited extent, acting as nurses on the battle field and working in munitions factories, but resumed their traditional roles in society after the war. In World War 2 women were more active in the military through auxiliary groups, such as Women’s Auxiliary Force (WAAF) and it is important to understand how much of an impact their work made on the Allies war effort. The scope of this investigation focuses on the use of WAAFs in World War 2, from 1941 to 1950. One method to be used during this investigation will be the analysis of several personal accounts of former WAAFs. This source will be used to gain insight on the level of contribution of the WAAFs. Another method employed is the examination of Sniper Girls and Fearless Heroines, a research paper about the duties of female British auxiliary groups and how they were portrayed in Canadian English press, which provides a foreign view of the WAAF’s impact and duties.

Summary of Evidence
Historical Context
• In World War 1, British women broke through traditional roles and worked as nurses on
the battlefield; however, after the war women resumed their previous roles, as house wives or jobs in domestic service, etc. (BBC UK)
• On September 3, 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany after the deadline for troop withdrawal passed. (BBC UK)
• The Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was created in July 1939. (BBC UK)
Duties of WAAFs
• Female pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary flew planes from the factory to the Royal Air Force airports and bases. (Gucciardo and Howatt, 554)
• They tracked hostile and friendly aircraft, flying bombs and rockets, German E Boats and Allied Merchant vessels, and have guided British and Allied fighter pilots on to enemy aircraft. (Air Ministry)
WAAF Personal Accounts
• “The volunteer wardens who patrolled the streets dealt with any lights showing from houses. Only the rivers were visible to help the enemy find their positions from the air.” (Flanders)
• “We listened to German aircrafts and write down all the things the pilots said.” (Flanders)
• “Our unit covered the whole of northern France and the south east of England. The German Air Force also had grids for maps and they all had code names that changed every few days, so we had to crack these very quickly to find out the German plans’ locations.” (Flanders)
• “We had to take bearings on the planes we heard so that we knew where they were at any given time, and could ‘see’ a picture of the air battles going on.” (Flanders)
• “Sometimes we could see fighters that flew low over the Channel to avoid the radar and would signal them their Spitfires in the air as soon as possible to follow.” (Flanders)
• ...

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