While some women were keen to support the war effort when the First World War broke out, the government were initially reluctant to involve a gender generally believed not to be up to traditional military work. In 1916, however, the realisation hit that compulsory service for men in the 50s would not raise the number of front-line troops needed. A different approach was needed, therefore, and the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps was created.
The aim of the new regiment was to undertake “feminine” jobs such as administration, catering and store work, this freeing up men for fighting on the Western Front.
By the end of the conflict, some 50,000 women had volunteered for service both at home and in Europe. Queen Mary became the regiment’s patron in 1918, which was renamed in her honour.
More than eighty women from the Corps were killed, and five were awarded the Military Medal for their services.
Commonwealth War Graves