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Sisters in Arms
Women in the British Armed Forces during the Second World War


Part of Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare

  • Date Published: April 2023
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107601116

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About the Authors
  • During the Second World War some 600,000 women were absorbed into the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and the Women's Royal Naval Service. These women performed important military functions for the armed forces, both at home and overseas, and the jobs they undertook ranged from cooking, typing and telephony to stripping down torpedoes, overhauling aircraft engines, and operating the fire control instruments in anti-aircraft gun batteries. In this wide-ranging study, which draws on a multitude of sources and combines organisational history with the personal experiences of servicewomen, Jeremy Crang traces the wartime history of the WAAF, ATS and WRNS and the integration of women into the British armed forces. Servicewomen came to play such an integral wartime role that the military authorities established permanent regular post-war women's services and, in so doing, opened up for the first time a military career for women.

    • Covers all three women's auxiliary services: the WAAF, ATS and WRNS
    • Combines an organisational history of the women's auxiliary services with the personal experiences of servicewomen
    • Explores both the gender advances - and the limits of those advances - as represented by the women's auxiliary services
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Beautifully written, Sisters in Arms braids together policy matters with personal experience in a highly engaging manner. It will become the standard 'go-to' work on the subject, and should be read by absolutely anyone interested in the social or the military aspects of the British wartime experience.' S. P. MacKenzie, author of Bomber Boys on Screen: RAF Bomber Command in Film and Television Drama

    'Crang's new history of militarised women in Second World War Britain shows us one of the ways that total war entails the remaking of society. Sisters in Arms tells both the stories of the women drawn into the military, and the wider story of how this reshaped wartime Britain.' Lucy Noakes, author of Dying for the Nation: Death, Grief and Bereavement in Second World War Britain

    'It's easy to forget the thousands of British women who volunteered for military service alongside the men in the Second World War. In this pioneering study, Jeremy Crang reconstructs in telling detail the life of the servicewoman in all three armed forces. This is a remarkably original story, scrupulously researched, and conveyed with humanity and intelligence.' Richard Overy, author of The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945

    'Jeremy Crang has produced a clear, wide-ranging and highly readable examination of the auxiliary women's services which draws on fascinating personal testimonies to reconstruct the experiences of members from recruitment through to demobilisation.' Juliette Pattinson, author of Women of War: Gender, Modernity and the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2023
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107601116
    • length: 353 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.574kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    1. Revival
    2. Organisation and recruitment
    3. Training and selection
    4. Work
    5. Status and discipline
    6. Necessities of life
    7. Medical matters
    8. Off duty
    9. Overseas service
    10. Demobilisation and the creation of the permanent women's services

  • Author

    Jeremy A. Crang, University of Edinburgh
    Jeremy A. Crang is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of The British Army and the People's War, 1939–1945 (2000) and co-editor (with Paul Addison) of The Burning Blue: a New History of the Battle of Britain (2000), Firestorm: the Bombing of Dresden, 1945 (2006), Listening to Britain: Home Intelligence Reports on Britain's Finest Hour, May–September 1940 (2010) and The Spirit of the Blitz: Home Intelligence and British Morale, September 1940–June 1941 (2020). He has also co-edited (with Edward Spiers and Matthew Strickland) A Military History of Scotland (2012).

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