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Women in the Great War (Paperback)

WWI Social History Home Front in WWI Women of History

By Stephen Wynn, Tanya Wynn
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9781473834149
Published: 5th June 2017

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The First World War was fought on two fronts. In a military sense it was fought on the battlefields throughout Europe, the Gallipoli peninsular and other such theatres of war, but on the Home Front it was the arduous efforts of women that kept the country running.

Before the war women in the workplace were employed in such jobs as domestic service, clerical work, shop assistants, teachers or as barmaids. These jobs were nearly all undertaken by single women, as once they were married their job swiftly became that a of a wife, mother and home maker. The outbreak of the war changed all of that. Suddenly, women were catapulted into a whole new sphere of work that had previously been the sole domain of men. Women began to work in munitions factories, as nurses in military hospitals, bus drivers, mechanics, taxi drivers, as well as running homes and looking after children, all whilst worrying about their men folk who were away fighting a war in some foreign clime, not knowing if they were ever going to see them again.

With the work came a wage, which provided women with financial freedom for the first time, as well as an element of independence and social integration, which they would have possibly never otherwise experienced. Women were not paid the same wages as men for doing the same work, but what they did earn was much more than they had ever earned before.

This was also a time of the suffrage movement, who wanted more out of life for women. Accordingly, some of these women were reluctant to stop working, with some of these being sacked so that returning soldiers could have their pre-war jobs back. Whilst, tens of thousands of women were left widowed, many with young children to bring up. Despite all of this, one thing was for sure, for lots of women there was no going back to how things had been before the war. There was only going to be one way, and that was forward.

An excellent appreciation of the work and achievement of the fairer sex during this terrible world conflict.

This England, Winter 2017

Overall, Women in the Great War is a well-written and well-researched book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in this period of history and also women’s history.

Read the complete review here.

Where There's Ink, There's Paper - Lauren Gent

As featured in books in brief

WDYTYA? October, 2017

This book provides a comprehensive but all too brief overview of the areas in which women were active, and I found myself wishing it was a much heavier, thicker, more exhaustive tome once I was done.

Good overview. 8/10

The Great War magazine, September 2017 - reviewed by Mark Marsay

As featured in

Essence Magazine

The book is well researched and combines specific data with personal stories, making it of interest to both researchers and readers who want to know more about that historical period, in particular about women’s history. Some chapters, like the one dedicated to individual women, are a good starting point to encourage further reading and engage the curiosity of those not so familiar with the topic.

A fitting homage to those women, who, as the authors write in the conclusion, should also be honoured on Remembrance Day.

Read the complete review here.

Olga Nunez Miret

It will undoubtedly be of interest to both social and military historians seeking to contextualize the war, and women's lives during it.

Your Family History, August 2017

This book details some of the organizations that put women to work, enumerates individual stories, lists women who lost their lives during the war and discusses the unique role played by the female members of the royal family. The book is chock-full of photographs, which portray the individual women in all their feminine yet most assuredly strong personas. Their bravery and perseverance, which predate Rosy the Riveter, laid the groundwork for who we are as women today. I highly recommend this well-researched book!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley, reviewed by Suzanne Thompson

I've read stories in magazines and novels about how men returning from action on the Western Front and elsewhere during WW1 returned home to find their jobs taken by women. Stephen and Tanya Wynn take us back four years to the time when the decisions were taken that the women left behind were given the task of keeping vital industries running, particularly agriculture but also in arms and equipment manufacture for the BEF. Superlative social history from Pen and Sword.

Read the complete review here.

Books Monthly

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was an AMAZING book about the roles of women in the Great War. It showed the shift from homemaker pre-war to how women began to work in munitions factories, as nurses in military hospitals, bus drivers, mechanics, taxi drivers, as well as running homes and looking after children, all while worrying about their husbands who were away fighting a war, and not knowing if they were ever going to see them again.

It was fantastic in showing how with money earned from working, women were provided with financial freedom, independence and social integration, which they would have never otherwise obtained.

This book also illustrated the time of the suffrage movement. It highlighted how these newly working women were reluctant to give up their independence. Women were being fired so that returning soldiers could have their prewar jobs back, even though they had held down the fort during the war. Tens of thousands of women were left widowed, many with young children to bring up, and employers wanted to return to the male-dominated workplace.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to know more about the women's suffrage movement in the first world war, or anyone that believes history remain relevant today.

NetGalley, reviewed by Janet Waltz

About Stephen Wynn

Stephen Wynn is a retired Police officer who served with Essex Police for thirty years. His first book, Two Sons in a War Zone: Afghanistan: The True Story of a Fathers Conflict, was published in 2010. It is his personal account of his sons’ first tours in Afghanistan. Both of his grandparents served in and survived the First World War.


About Tanya Wynn

Stephen and Tanya Wynn are a husband and wife team who are collaborating for the first time with this title. They have been married for twelve years and outside of writing enjoy the simplicities of life. They spend most mornings walking their four German Shepherd dogs at a time when most normal people are still sound asleep. Tanya has always taken a keen interest in the previous titles Stephen has written, so much so that the title for this book was her idea.

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The Ypres Salient saw some of the bitterest fighting of the First World War. The once-fertile fields of Flanders were turned into a quagmire through which men fought for four years. In casualty clearing stations, on ambulance trains and barges, and at base hospitals near the French and Belgian coasts, nurses of many nations cared for these traumatised and damaged men. Drawing on letters, diaries and personal accounts from archives all over the world, The Nurses of Passchendaele tells their stories - faithfully recounting their experiences behind the Ypres Salient in one of the most intense and…

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