Dedicated to the women with whom I have had the privilege to serve, particularly those who have demonstrated their courage and endurance on operations in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Sierra Leone, and Iraq. This is my contribution to #ArmyWomen100.
In January 1917, Lieutenant General Henry Lawson submitted a report that recommended the recruitment of women to fill administrative jobs in France, releasing men for employment farther forward. The Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps was formally instituted by Army Council Instruction No. 1069 on 7 July 1917. The WAAC became Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps on 9 April 1918. At the end of the war its personnel were demobilised and the Corps was finally disbanded on 30 April 1920, although a small detachment remained attached to the Graves Registrations Commission in France until September 1921.
On 25 March 1916, the Military Medal had been instituted for non-commissioned officers and men of the Army for ‘acts of bravery’. Three months later, in a supplementary Royal Warrant of 21 June, the award was extended to women (British and foreign) for ‘bravery and devotion under fire’. The first awards soon followed—to Lady Dorothie Feilding for her gallantry as an ambulance driver in Belgium (she had previously been awarded the French Croix de Guerre and would later be awarded the Belgian Ordre de Léopold II for her services) and to five nurses for their gallantry during the bombing of 33rd Casualty Clearing Station at Bethune, France on 7 August 1916. Continue reading