The Women’s Role in Britain’s War Effort in World War II

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The mayor contribution of women to the war effort was during World War I; there were more activities of the suffragettes to gain the votes for the general elections of 1918. In the 1930’s, social roles were clearly defined, a woman’s place was at home and a man’s place was at work. If a woman had no family to look after, it was acceptable for them to go outside home for work. But during the World War II the British government worked hard to keep the Nazi’s away. Extreme measures were taken on the home front. The minister for labor and national service Ernest Bevin made the radical decision to call up for women for help to the war effort.

By December 1940, Bevin ordered the conscription of the women into the services. Women had a very important role to the war effort in the home front during World War II. This speeded up the process to make women more acceptable to men in the ‘workplace’. Women still worked at home but also in Civil Defenses, or even in the armed forces, women played a big part in helping Britain win the war. At the begging of the war women could chose what activities and efforts they could do for their contribution. Women started at home, they crisscrossed their windows even before the war was declared.

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They also took tasks of home protection from men, like constructing the Anderson shelter that were built in gardens. As the war progressed and the men were called to work, many of the women started getting more opportunities for jobs, such as bus driving and captaining the transport barges that moved essential materials along canals and waterways to supply the factories. Some were even pilots for conventional plains. Others, while carrying out their jobs, also volunteered to the Civil Defense Organizations working as auxiliary policemen, ambulance drivers and first-aid workers.

The most important contribution that a woman could make to the war effort as a housewife was to join the Women’s Voluntary Service. It had been established in 1938. During the Blitz, they provided services that were not provided by the local organizations. Their contributions to the service could include organizing convoys to evacuate people out of the heavily bombed neighbor hoods, and for those who had been bombed, they provided them food and clothing. They also helped with the evacuation and care of children orphaned as well as the ones that had been separated from their families.

The women who preferred to work in the country joined the Women’s Land Army. It’s objective was to replace the essential agricultural farm workers who where now in the forces. At the end of the war 80,000 women had joined. The most historic date in the whole war for Britain’s women was in December 1941. The government had announced that women would be enrolled in the ‘national service’. Britain was the first country to enroll women in the national services. Women could chose in between serving in the auxiliary service or in the industry.

The National Service did not force women to assume ‘combatant duties’ if they had chosen to join one of the women’s services. World War I had proved that women could carry out many skilled jobs in the industry sector where men had always taken this place. But in 1939 the government was slow to consider that women could volunteer for work in factories and heavy industry sites, but at the end of 1940 they took the correct decision. “After our training, we soon got used to heavy work, such as lifting pit-props and cutting them into various lengths for the coal mines. There were no mechanical devices used then and every pit-prop was cut by hand. (BBC Women Under Fire in World War Two. Carol Harris).

Women would have to replace men and also work alongside them as the women quoted. After the announcement of Ernest Bevin in December; in January of 1941 the Ministry of Labor began accepting volunteers to the industries where workers were needed. By 1943, ten million women were registered for work, 90% of single women and 80% of married women were doing war work of some kind. It was understood throughout the war that Britain’s women were actually doing a man’s job. As a consequence many women with work places were dismissed once peace was declared.

The Government’s policy encouraged men to return to their pre-war occupations. In some industries were there were not to under take heavily jobs some of the women were kept on, as it was cheaper to employ than men. Trudy Murray served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. She said: “Demob was a big disappointment to a lot of us. It was an awful and wonderful war. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything; some of the friends we made were forever. ” The war ended in May 1945. At this time there were 460,000 women in the military service and over 6. 5 million in the civilian war work.

Without the women’s help and contribution, the war effort would have been weakened and probably Britain would have been severally damaged without them. Ironically in the Nazi Germany Hitler had forbidden German women to take place in weapons factories and they felt that the only place for women at this time was at home. This caused a weaker Germany and was a factor that made them loose the war as a consequence. On the other side women were one of the most important factors in the Britain’s home front security and helped them win the war. Thanks to women, probably Britain wouldn’t had reached victory in the same way without them.

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The Women’s Role in Britain’s War Effort in World War II. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from

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