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.
The Black Country in the Great War (Paperback)
This is not a book about the Great War; it is about life during the war. Changes in people's lives: their work, home, food, entertainment and news. I used original research material including newspapers, to paint a picture of life in the Black Country. Manufacturing was vital; we were well-equipped to supply the engines of war. The region had motor manufacturers who made aero engines, tanks, guns, munitions and much more. Towards the end of the war the Black Country became one huge munitions works! Some of the greatest changes were societal, women's role changed massively. Wider social change…By Michael Pearson
Click here to buy both titles for £17.98