Women and War Work
by Helen Fraser
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G. Arnold Shaw New York


"No easy hopes or lies Shall bring us to our goal, But iron sacrifice Of body, will, and soul. There is but one task for all— For each one life to give. Who stands if freedom fall? Who dies if England live?"

Rudyard Kipling in "For All We Have and Are."














11. THE W.A.A.C.'s





A FEW SHELLS (Frontispiece)























"Our War Loan from England"—That is the heading under which were grouped the nine lectures given by Miss Helen Fraser at Vassar College. England has borrowed a billion or so of dollars from us, but the obligation is not all her way. The moral strength of our cause is immeasurably increased by her alliance, and the spectacle of a great democracy organizing itself for complete unity in a world crisis is worth an incalculable amount to us. Such a vision Miss Fraser has brought to her wider public among the women of America in this notable book. Of her personal influence let me quote again from the Vassar students' newspaper:

"Miss Fraser, here's to you! We don't need to say that we liked Miss Fraser and everything she had to tell us. The way we followed her around, and packed every room in which she spoke, out to the doors and sometimes up to the ceiling, is proof enough of that. And even the fact that it was Sunday could not check our outburst of song in the Soap Palace as Miss Fraser departed. Her gracious speech of appreciation left with us the question not phrased by her before, but certainly in the minds of every one of us who had been hearing her: 'What are we going to do?'"

An unsolicited testimonial, this, of the most genuine kind. The College students of today are not easily coaxed into lecture rooms outside of their own classes.

I believe that Miss Fraser's book will be read with the same eager attention that followed her first speeches in this country as she began her work of educating American women to a sense of what the mobilization of the entire citizen army of a democracy must mean.

Nor will her influence cease there. Miss Fraser's book is a piece of history; and history is action. The wonderful work of the women of England is already emulated by the splendid efforts along many lines of the women in our country. The new lessons of co-operation and of selfless devotion, learned from this book will, I confidently predict, within a few months, be translated into action by the Women's War Service Committees in every state of our land.

And the greatest lesson of all is that women and men must work together in this new world. I count it an honour—being a man—to be asked to introduce Miss Fraser in this way to the American public. For my part I would have no separate women's division, except such as concerns the tasks exclusively for women. I would have women side by side with men in every division of labour, working out the task with equal fidelity, equal authority, and equal rewards. One of the results of this amazing age is going to be the new comprehension, understanding, and sympathy of the one sex for the other.

H.N. MacCRACKEN. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. January 11, 1918.

* * * * *

The women of all the allies are one in this great struggle. Our hopes and our fears, our anxieties and our prayers, our visions and our desolations, are the same.

Our work is the same task of supporting and sustaining the energies of our men in arms and of our nations at home. All the allied women know more of each other than they ever did before, and this is all to the good.

The task of women in this struggle and in the reconstruction to come after, are great tasks, and the world needs in every country not only the wisdom and knowledge of its own women but the strength in them that comes from being one of a great world-wide group and conscious of the unity of all women.

Anything that can help to that unity and understanding seems to me of great value, and this record is written for American women in the hope it may be of some small service.

H.F. December 25, 1917.

* * * * *


"I have no fear nor shrinking. I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me.... I thank God for this ten weeks' quiet before the end. Life has always been hurried and full of difficulty. This time of rest has been a great mercy. They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say, standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."

—EDITH CAVELL's last message.

* * * * *




Your hearts are lifted up, your hearts That have foreknown the utter price, Your hearts burn upward like a flame Of splendour and of sacrifice.

For you too, to battle go, Not with the marching drums and cheers, But in the watch of solitude And through the boundless night of fears.

And not a shot comes blind with death, And not a stab of steel is pressed Home, but invisibly it tore, And entered first a woman's breast.

From LAWRENCE BINYON's "For the Fallen."

The spirit of women in this greatest of world struggles cannot, in its essence, be differentiated from the spirit of men. They are one. The women of our countries in the mass feel about the issues of this struggle just as the men do; know, as they do, why we fight, and like them, are going on to the end. The declarations of our Government as to conditions for peace are ours, too, and when we vote, we shall show the spirit of women is clearly and definitely on the side of freedom, justice and democracy.

Our actions speak louder than any words can ever do, and the record of our women's sacrifices and work stand as great silent witnesses to our spirit. There is nothing we have been asked to do that we have not done and we have initiated great pieces of work ourselves. The hardest time was in the beginning when we waited for our tasks, feeling as if we beat stone walls, reading our casualty lists, receiving our wounded, caring for the refugees, doing everything we could for the sailor and soldier and his dependants, helping the women out of work, but feeling there was so much more to do behind the men—so very much more—for which we had to wait. We did all the other things faithfully and, so far as we could, prepared ourselves and when the tasks came, we volunteered in tens of thousands, every kind of woman, young, old, middle-aged, rich and poor, trained and untrained, and today we have 1,250,000 women in industry directly replacing men, 1,000,000 in munitions, 83,000 additional women in Government Departments, 258,300 whole and part-time women workers on the land. We are recruiting women for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps at the rate of 10,000 a month and we have initiated a Women's Royal Naval Service. We have had the help of about 60,000 V.A.D.'s (Voluntary Aid Detachment of Red Cross) in Hospitals in England and France, and on our other fronts, in addition to our thousands of trained nurses.

The women in our homes carry on—no easy task in these days of shortages in food and coal and all the other difficulties, saving, conserving, working, caring for the children, with so many babies whose fathers have never seen them, though they are one to two years old, and so many babies who will never see their fathers.

Some of our women have died on active service, doctors, nurses and orderlies. Our most recent and greatest loss is in the death of Dr. Elsie Inglis, the initiator of the Scottish Women's Hospitals, who died on November 26th, three days after she had safely brought back her Unit from South Russia, which had been nursing the Serbians attached to the Russian army.

One who was with her at the end writes, "It was a great triumphant going forth." There was no hesitation, no fear. As soon as she knew she was going, that the call had come, with her wonted decision of character, she just readjusted her whole outlook. "For a long time I meant to live," she said, "but now I know I am going. It is so nice to think of beginning a new job over there! But I would have liked to have finished one or two jobs here first!"

She told us the story of the breaking of their moorings as they lay in the river in a great storm of wind and of how that breaking had saved them from colliding with another ship. "I asked," she said, "what had happened." Someone said "Our moorings broke." I said, "No, a hand cut them!" Then, after a moment's silence, with an expression in face and voice which it is utterly impossible to convey, she added, "That same Hand is cutting my moorings now, and I am going forth!" The picture rose before you of an unfettered ship going out to the wide sea and of the great untrammelled, unhindered soul moving majestically onwards.

There was no fear, no death! How could there be. She never thought of her own work—she knew unity. "You did magnificently," was said to her within an hour of her going. With all her wonted assurance and with a touch of pride she answered, "My Unit did magnificently."

Her loss is irreparable to us, but there is no room for sorrow. She leaves us triumph, victory, and peace.

Edith Cavell's name is another that shines upon our roll of honour—the same serene great spirit—no thought of self, but only a great love and desire to serve—and a great fearlessness. Her message, before she went out alone at dawn to her death, which added another stain to the enemy's pages dark with blood, was the message of one who saw the eternal verities, the things worth living and dying for.

Our men's Roll of Honor is a heavy Roll. We have lost in killed and permanently out of the army, a million men and over 75 per cent of our casualties are our own Island losses. Our women in every village and in every city street have lost husbands, fathers, brothers, lovers and friends. From every rank of life our men have died, the agricultural labourer, the city clerk, the railway man, the miner, the engineer, the business man, the poet, the journalist, the author, the artist, the scientist, the heirs of great names, many of the most brilliant of our young men. We comb out our mines and shipyards, and factories, ceaselessly for more men. Our boys at eighteen go into the army. From eighteen to forty-one every man is liable for service. Our Universities have only a handful of men in them and these are the disabled, the unfit, and men from other countries. Oxford and Cambridge Colleges are full of Officers' Training Corps men. The Examination Schools and the Town Hall at Oxford are Hospitals, and Oxford and Cambridge streets are full of the blue-clad wounded, as are so many of our cities. We are a nation at war, and at war for over three years and everywhere and in everything we are changed.

In these years we women have lived always with the shadow of the war over us—it never leaves us, night or day. We do not live completely where we are in these days. A bit of us is always with our men on our many fields of war. We live partly in France and Flanders, in Italy, in the Balkans, in Egypt and Palestine and Mesopotamia, in Africa, with the lonely white crosses in Gallipoli, with our men who guard us sleeping and waking, going down to the sea in ships and under the sea, fighting death in submarines and mines, and with those who in the air are the eyes and the winged cavalry of our forces.

We mourn our dead, not sadly and hopelessly, though life for many of us is emptier forever, and for many so much harder, and we wear very little mourning. We mourn silently, and with a sure faith that our men's supreme sacrifice is not in vain. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend." The little white crosses of our graves symbolize the faith for which they die.

The message of our soldier poets who have been created by this war and have written immortal verse, and many of whom have died, is the message of men who have seen through the veils of time into eternity, who are free of life and death, whom nothing can hurt, "if it be not the Destined Will."

The veils of time grow thin in these days to those of us who take Death into our reckoning all the time. We think of our men gone on ahead as eternally young.

"Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres. There is music in the midst of desolation And a glory that shines before our tears.

* * * * *

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the Sun and in the morning We will remember them."

We know, too, though we do not often define it, that the forces we women fight in the enemy are the forces that have left women out in world affairs.

Germany is the Fatherland, never, it is significant, the Motherland as our little Islands are, and its mad dream of militarism and Weltmacht is the dream of men who deny any constructive part to women in the great affairs of life. The hopes of all the democracies are bound up in this struggle and its issue, and there is no real place in the world for the true service and genius and work of women, any more than for that of the mass of men, save in democracy. We mean so much in these days by democracy. It seems to be indefinable in its larger meanings. It is not a system of government, but, on the other hand, no country can be called democratic that has not established political freedom, and no country is truly democratic in which such freedom is only in name, and its women are not included or a group rule or the demagogue and the worst kind of politician hold sway.

Democracy is not here till all serve and all are given opportunities so that they have something of value to give to their country and to the world. Democracy is the ever changing, ever developing, ever creative spirit of man expressing itself in his institutions and systems of government and relationships.

Its quarrel with our enemies, who would impose on the mass of men cast-iron systems, and would set up state idols to be worshipped as higher than the Conscience and spirit of man, is so profound and goes so deeply into knowledge and feelings that are too big for words, that the soldier who never tries to express it but goes out and drills and works and disciplines himself that he may present his body as a living shield for the faith that is within him, and the woman who works with him and behind him, healing and giving, silently, are perhaps wisest of all.

It is no time for words only, though right words are mighty powers, but for living faith in deeds and the spirit of the women of all our allied countries is swift to answer the challenge—by their works shall ye know them.

The spirit of our women shows, like that of the French women who tend their farms, keep their shops, work ceaselessly everywhere, most clearly and wonderfully in their work. In our hundreds of hospitals night and day, they care for the wounded and the sick and the dying, bringing consolation, love, skill, heroism, patience and all fine things as their gift. From myriads of homes they pour forth to their daily toil, carrying on the work of the country, educating the children, taking the place of their men on the railways, the factory, the workshop, the banks and offices. In the munition works, in the shipyards, in the engineering shops, in the aeroplane sheds, they work in tens of thousands—risking life and health in some cases, but thinking little of it, compared with what their men are doing, knee-deep in snow and mud and water in the trenches. "Is the work heavy?" you ask. "Not so heavy as the soldiers'." "Are the hours long?" "Six days and nights in the trenches are longer." "We are going to win and you are going to help us"—and the munition girl and the land girl and the workers answer not only with cheers and words but answer with shells and ships and aeroplanes and submarines and food produced and conserved, and in industrial tasks done by men and women together.

The enemy airships and aeroplanes bomb our cities but our girls "carry on"—no telephone girl has left her post—there have been no panics in our workshops.

And the spirit of the Waac—the khaki girl—is the spirit of her brother.

On one occasion in France in an air raid, enemy bombs came very near some girl signallers. They behaved splendidly and someone suggested it should be mentioned in the Orders of the Day. "No," said the Commanding Officer, "we don't mention soldiers in orders for doing their duty,"—and that tribute to their attitude is deserved and the right one.

And, like our men, we carry on cheerfully, knowing there is only one possible end, victory. We fight for the sanctity of the given word, for honour, for the rights of individuals and nations, for the ideals that have preserved humanity from barbarism, for the right of service, for the salvation of common humanity.

More, we women work with a feeling in our hearts that we, who bear and cherish life, and to whom its destruction is most terrible, have a great work to do and a great part to play in the settlement of the problem of war in the future.

The transmutation of the struggles of mankind from the physical to the spiritual, the solution of national and international problems, the solution of all the riddles of life that demand an answer or man's conquest, cannot be done by man alone. It is our task also and to the great work of building up a new world after we emerge from this crucible of fire in which the souls of the nations are being tested, the spirit of women has much to bring.


"The more they gazed, the more their wonder grew That one small head could carry all she knew."



There are people who declare that the winning of this war depends on organization alone. That is palpably untrue. Good organization can do much. The greatest thing in all organizations is the living flame that makes grouping real—the selfless spirit of service that the fighting man possesses and that is beyond all words of praise.

Talk to a soldier or a sailor, realize how he thinks and feels about his ship, his battalion, his aircorps. He is subordinated—selfless—disciplined. The secret of the good soldiers' achievements and his greatness is selfless service and in our national organizations behind him that same spirit is the one great thing that counts.

If you have that as a foundation among your workers, organization is easy.

We found, at the beginning of the war, a great tendency among women to rush into direct war work. Masses of women wanted to leave work they knew everything about to go and do work they knew nothing about. One thing we have realized, that the trained and educated woman is invaluable, that the best service you can render your country is to do the work you know best and are trained for, if it is, as it frequently is, important civic work. Another point, no younger woman should stop her education or training—it is the greatest mistake possible. The war is not over and even when it is, the great task of reconstruction lies ahead and we want every trained woman we can get for that. Our women are in Universities and Colleges in greater numbers than ever, and more opportunities for education, in Medicine in particular have been opened to them.

The trained woman makes the best worker in practically every department and is particularly useful in organizing. A scheme that is only indifferently good but, so far as it goes, is on right lines, well organized and directed, will be more valuable and get far better results than a perfect scheme badly organized and run. An organization or a committee that has a woman as Chairman, President or Secretary, who insists on running everything and deciding everything for herself, is bound for disaster.

I should certainly place the will and ability to delegate authority high up in the qualifications a good organizer must possess.

We cannot afford to have little petty jealousies, social, local, and individual, on war committees or any other for that matter, but in this big struggle, they are particularly petty and unworthy.

We have all met frequently the kind of person who tells you, "This village will never work with that village," or "Mrs. This will never work with Mrs. That. They never do"; and I always answer, "Isn't it time they learned to, when their boys die in the trenches together, why shouldn't they work together," and they always do when it is put to them.

There is no difficulty in getting women to work together in our country. We have a link in our Roll of Honor that is more unifying than any words or arguments or appeals can be. Our women of every rank of life are closely drawn together.

The appeal to women is to organize for National Service and to realize that work of national importance is likely not to be at all important work.

The women in important places in all our countries will be few in proportion, but the struggle will be won in the Nation, as in the Army, by the army of the myriads of faithful workers faithfully performing tasks of drudgery and quiet service—and a realization of this is the greatest need.

Sticking to the work is of supreme importance. We do not want people who take up something with great enthusiasm and drop it in a few months. Nothing is achieved by that.

The good organizer sees her workers do not "grow weary in well doing."

Another important work in organization is to prevent waste of material, effort and money, by co-ordination whenever possible, though I should say, as a broad principle, co-ordination should not be carried to the point of merging together kinds of work that make a different appeal for work and money and require different treatment and knowledge and powers. The best results are reached by securing concentration of appeal and organization on one big issue and getting the work done by a group directly and keenly interested in the one big thing and with enthusiasm for it and knowledge of it.

In the personnel of committees and their composition our women have made it a definite policy to secure the appointment of women to all Government and National Committees on which our presence would be useful and on which we ought to be represented and we always prefer committees of men and women together, unless it be for anything that is distinctly better served by women's committees.

There is one pitfall in organization into which women fall more readily than men in my experience. Our instinct as women is to want to make everything perfect. We instinctively run to detail and to a desire for absolute accuracy and perfection.

This is invaluable in many ways, but in organizing on a big scale may be a serious fault. There must, of course, be method, order and accuracy, but the great essential to secure in big things is harmonious working—not to insist on a rigid sameness but to allow for widely divergent views and attitudes and ways of doing things so long as the essential rules are observed. We should not insist too much on identity in the way of work of different places and districts. In essentials—unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity—that might well be the wise organizer's motto.

The supplementing of governmental organization by national voluntary organization is a great piece of work and in the beginning of the war, and still, many of our organizations, voluntary or semi-official in character, were of great service. The work of the Soldiers and Sailors Families' Association is an example. The S. and S.F.A. had been created in the South African War and in peace time and war time looked after the dependants of the soldier and sailor. Its committees were composed of men and women—and it administered voluntary funds and later grants from the National Relief Fund, raised at the outbreak of war.

When war broke out, all the Reservists were called up and our men volunteered in tens of thousands. The pay offices of the army, being small like everything else in our army, could not cope quickly with the numbers of claims for allowances pouring in, but the S. and S.F.A. stepped into the breach and looked after the dependants. It secured vast numbers more of women in every town and village who visited every dependant and looked after them. They advanced the allowances which were paid back to them later—and this started in the first week of the war. They gave additional grants in certain hard cases for rent, sickness or in event of deaths in family at home. Every home was visited and no dependant needed to be in distress or want—S. and S.F.A. offices existed in every town and representatives in every village and any difficulty or trouble could be brought to them. The whole of this work is done voluntarily. In some cases workrooms were started from which sewing and knitting for soldiers and sailors were given to the dependents and paid for. It was not only the money and practical help that was of great service—the S. and S.F.A. visitor to the soldier's wife and mother brought sympathy and help and interest.

Another movement for soldiers and sailors dependents was the founding of clubs for them in many towns. One hundred and thirty-five of these clubs are linked up now in the United Services Clubs League. They are bright, cheery rooms in which the women can find newspapers, books, music, amusement, and opportunity to sew or knit comforts, can meet their friends and talk.

The Royal Patriotic Fund was another semi-official organization which was run voluntarily, gave grants at death of soldier or sailor and administered pensions. It is now entirely merged in the Naval and Military War Pensions Statutory Committee and local committees set up in January, 1916, which administer all grants, pensions, wound gratuities, etc., and looks after dependants.

Women sit on the Statutory Committee and there must be women members on every County, Borough and City War Pensions Committee in our country.

The organization of war charities is now in England controlled by the War Charities Committee appointed by the Government in April, 1916. The committee controls not only what could be strictly termed War Charities, but all war agencies of any kind for which appeals for funds are made to the public. These organizations must be registered and approved by the committee, and their accounts must be open to inspection and audit. This was a wise and necessary step, not so much because of actual fraudulent appeals—there has been practically none of that, but there was a certain amount of overlapping and of waste of money, material and energy, and some very few organizations in which an undue proportion of funds raised was absorbed in expenses. Comforts for soldiers and prisoners of war parcels are also now co-ordinated under two national committees.

The first work of registering Belgian refugees and of providing French and Flemish interpreters was done by a voluntary organization—the London Society for Women's Suffrage (a branch of N.U.W.S.S.), which has always been notable for its admirable organization. It provided 150 interpreters for this work in a few days, and work was carried on at all the London Centres from early morning till midnight. When the Government took over the charge of Belgian refugees, the system of registration used by the London Society was adopted without change by them and the organizer in charge was taken over also and put in a very responsible position at the War Refugees Committee's Headquarters.

The work of our Government Employment Exchanges (which were established before the War by the Board of Trade) and are now under the Ministry of Labour—has been supplemented by various Professional Women's Bureaus, by the compiling of a Professional Women's Register, secured through Universities, Colleges, Headmistresses' Association, etc., and by the setting up of the Women's Service Bureau by the London Society for Women Suffrage (N.U.W.S.S.). Various women's organizations have established most valuable clearing houses for voluntary workers in Scotland and England and Wales. The Women's Service Bureau has dealt with 40,000 applications for voluntary and paid work—mostly paid. Its interviewers take the greatest trouble to place these applicants suitably, and to find out just what they can do or would be good at doing.

Our biggest Government arsenal secured their first munition supervisors through it—and the Government Departments, big firms, factories, organizations, banks, workshops, institutions of any kind, send to it for workers.

It not only finds these posts without charge—it is supported entirely by voluntary contribution—but it has a loan and grant fund to enable women and girls without money to pay for training and maintenance.

Its records and the letters in its flies provide reading that is as absorbing as any novel, and it was one of the wise agencies that realized the older woman had a place and could help as well as the younger ones.

To find the person and the post and to put them together is its fascinating and admirably done task.

The organization done by women in Britain has been notable and admirable.

I can only touch on some of it and must leave out much, but it is worth while noting that there has been very little overlapping in the work. The total percentage of overlapping was estimated by the War Charities Committee on their investigation at 10 per cent and of that only a very small amount was due to women.


Belgian Refugees' Committee. 1914.

Clerical and Commercial Occupation Committee, do (Scotland.) 1915.

Disabled Officers and Men.

Education After the War. April, 1916.

Educational Reform. (August, 1916.)

Food, Committee of Inquiry Into High Cost of—June, 1916.

Advisory Committee on Women in Industry. March, 1916.

Labor Commission to Deal with Industrial Unrest. (Ministry of Labor.) June, 1917.

Munitions Central Labor Supply Committee.

Munitions, Arbitration Tribunals.

Munitions, Committee on the Supply and Organization of Women's Service in Canteens, Hostels, Clubs, etc. December, 1916.

Naval and Military War Pensions Statutory Committee. January, 1916.

Nurses, Supply of—October, 1916.

Polish Victims' Relief Fund.

Prevention and Relief of Distress. 1914.

Professional Classes Sub-Committee.

Prisoners of War Help Committee.

Reconstruction Committee. (To advise the Government on the many national problems which will arise at the end of the war.) 1916.

Shops: Committee of Inquiry, to Consider Conditions of Retail Trade to Secure the Enlistment of Men. (November, 1915.)

Teachers' Salaries. Departmental Committee of Enquiry. June, 1917.

War Charities. April, 1916.

National War Savings Committee. April, 1916.


Committee, Report on Joint Standing Industrial Councils. 1917.

Women's Wages Committee. 1917.

Central Committee on Women's Employment. 1914.

Drinking Among Women, Committee of Enquiry. November, 1915.

There are also two women on the—

Executive Committee of National Relief Fund.

Ministry of Food has two women Co-Directors—

Mrs. C.S. Peel Mrs. Pember Reeves


"Come, ye blessed of my Father; I was sick and ye visited me."

—MATT., Chap. 25.

"A lady with a lamp shall stand In the great history of the land, A noble type of good Heroic womanhood."

—H.W. LONGFELLOW, "To Florence Nightingale."



When war broke out on August 4, 1914, probably the only women in our country who knew exactly how they could help, and would be used in the war, were our nurses in the Navy and Army nursing services.

In the Army, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service had in it at that time about 280 members, matrons, sisters and staff nurses, Miss Becher, R.R.C., being Matron-in-Chief for Military Hospitals. The Q.A.I.M.N.S. had a large Reserve which was also immediately called out and these nurses were used at once, six parties being sent to France and Belgium by August 20th.

The Second Branch was the Territorial Force Nursing Service, which was in 1914 eight years old. It was initiated by Miss Haldane and a draft scheme of an establishment of nurses willing to serve in general hospitals in the event of the Territorial Forces being mobilized, was submitted at a meeting held in Miss Haldane's house, Sir Alfred Keogh, Medical Director General, being present. This scheme was approved and an Advisory Council appointed at the War Office.

The Matrons of the largest and most important nurse-training centres in the Kingdom were appointed as principal matrons (unpaid) and to them the success of this Force is largely due. They received the applications of matrons, sisters and nurses willing to join, looked after their references and submitted them, after approval by the Local Committee, to the Advisory Council. To their splendid work was due the ease of the vast mobilization of nurses when war broke out. There were then 3,000 nurses on their rolls. On August 5th they were called out and in ten days 23 Territorial General Hospitals in England, Wales and Scotland were ready to receive the wounded and the nurses were also ready.

Each hospital had 520 beds, but this accommodation was quite inadequate after a few months of war, and the accommodation of practically every hospital was increased to 1,000 to 3,000 beds and many Auxiliary Hospitals had to be organized. By June, 1915, the Territorial Nursing Staff was 4,000 in number and in Hospitals in France and in Belgium and in clearing stations, there were over 400 Territorial Nurses as well as Imperial Nurses.

The Naval Nurses were about 70 in number with a Reserve, and their Reserve was called up at once also, and they went to their various Hospitals. The other two great organizations, the British Red Cross and the order of St. John of Jerusalem, now working together through the joint committee set up to administer the Times Fund for the Red Cross, which has reached over $30,000,000, had their schemes also. In time of war they are controlled by the War Office and Admiralty. The Red Cross had, since 1909, organized Voluntary Aid Detachments to give voluntary aid to the sick and wounded in the event of war in home territory. There were 60,000 men and women trained in transport work, cooking, laundry, first aid and home nursing. St. John's ambulance had the same system of ambulance workers and V.A.D.'s to call on.

As the war proceeded it was quite clear that the nursing staffs, though we had secured 3,000 more trained nurses through the Red Cross in the first few weeks of the war, would be quite inadequate, and it was found necessary to use V.A.D.'s and to open V.A.D. Hospitals, most of them being established in large private houses lent for the purpose. Within nine months there were 800 of these at work in every part of England, Scotland and Wales. The V.A.D.'s suffered a little at first from confusion with the ladies who insisted on rushing off to France after taking a ten day's course in first aid. We had suffered a great deal from that kind of thing in the South African War and were determined to have no repetition of it, so they were firmly and decisively removed from France without delay.

To get more trained nurses, rules were relaxed and the age limit raised. Many nurses, retired and married, returned to work, but very quickly it was perfectly clear our trained nurses were inadequate in number for the great work before us, and in less than a year in most hospitals every ward had one V.A.D. worker assisting who had been nominated by her Commandant and County Director, and in March, 1915, the Hospitals were asked by the Director General of the Army Medical Service to train V.A.D.'s in large numbers as probationers, for three or six months, to fit them for work under trained nurses. Every possible woman, trained or partially trained, was mobilized and thousands have been trained during the three years of war, and V.A.D. members have been drafted to military and Red Cross Hospitals, abroad and at home, in addition to doing the work of the V.A.D. Hospitals. A V.A.D. Hospital with a hundred beds will have two trained nurses, and all the other work is done by V.A.D.'s. The Commandant-in-Chief now is Lady Ampthill. Dame Katharine Furse was Commandant-in-Chief until quite recently, but is now head of the new Women's Royal Navy Service.

Many have gone to France and done distinguished work and there is no body of women in our country who have done more faithful and useful work than our V.A.D.'s, who nurse, cook and wash dishes, serve meals, scrub the floors, look after the linen and do everything for the comfort and welfare of our men, with a capacity, zeal and endurance beyond praise. About 60,000 women have helped in this way. Our nurses and V.A.D.'s have distinguished themselves at home and abroad. They have been in casualty lists on all our fronts. They have been decorated for bravery and for heroic work. The full value of all they have done cannot yet be appraised. They have spent themselves unceasingly in caring for our men. They have nursed them with shells falling around. Hospitals have frequently been shelled and in one case two nurses worked in a theatre, wearing steel helmets during the bombardment, with patients who were under anaesthetics and could not be moved. They have waited out beside men who could not be got in from under shell fire of the enemy until darkness fell. Two V.A.D. nurses in another raid saw to the removal of all their patients to cellars and, while they themselves were entering the cellars after everyone was safe, bombs fell upon the building they had just left and completely demolished it. Some of our nurses have died of typhus. They have been wounded in Hospitals and on Hospital Trains, and they have done all their work as cheerfully and with the same high courage as our men have. We have had helping us in our nursing numbers of Canadian nurses, not only for the beautiful Canadian Hospital at Beechborough Park, but for many other Hospitals in England and France, and nurses from Australia and New Zealand.

We have had American nurses, also, but these will now be absorbed, as needed, by the American Army in France.

The records of our Medical women in the war are among the very best. The belief that nursing was woman's work but that medicine and surgery were not, was dying before the war, but it existed, and it was the war that gave it the final death blow. Immediately war broke out Dr. Louisa Garrett Anderson, a daughter of our pioneer woman doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and Dr. Flora Murray formed the Women's Hospital Corps, a complete small unit and offered it to the British Government. It was refused but accepted by the French Government, and was established by them at Claridge's Hotel in Paris, where it did admirable work. Its work aroused the interest and admiration of the British Royal Army Medical Corps, and they were asked to form a Hospital at Wimereux, which afterwards amalgamated with the R.A.M.C. Later Sir Alfred Keogh established them in Endell Street, London, where they have a Hospital of over 700 beds. The women surgeons and doctors and staff are graded for purposes of pay in the same way as men members of R.A.M.C.

In July, 1916, the War Office asked for the services of 80 medical women for work at home and abroad, and later for 50 more.

The Women's Service League sent a unit to Antwerp which did some excellent work, though it was there only a very short time. The members of the unit were among the last to leave the city, escaping in the last car to cross the bridge before it was blown up.

The work of the Scottish Women's Hospitals, organized by the Scottish Federation of the Nation Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, and initiated by Dr. Elsie Inglis, of Edinburgh, would require a volume to themselves, and American women, who have given so generously and so freely to them, know a great deal about their work. The first unit went to Royaumont in France, and established itself at the old Abbaye there. It stood from the beginning in the very first rank for efficiency. A leading French expert, Chief of the Pasteur Laboratory in Paris, speaking of this Hospital, said he had inspected hundreds of military Hospitals, but not one which commanded his admiration so completely as this. Another unit was sent to Troyes and was maintained by the students of Newnham and Girton Colleges. Dr. Elsie Inglis's greatest work began in April, 1915, when her third unit went to Serbia, where she may he truly said to have saved the Serbian nation from despair. The typhus epidemic had at the time of her arrival carried off one-third of the Serbian Army Medical Corps, and the epidemic threatened the very existence of the Serbian Army. She organized four great Hospital Units, initiated every kind of needful sanitary precaution, looked into every detail, regardless of her own safety and comfort, hesitating at no task, however loathsome and terrible. Her constant message to the Serbian Medical Headquarters Staff was "Tell me where your need is greatest without respect to difficulties, and we will do our best to help Serbia and her brave soldiers."

Two nurses and one of the doctors died of typhus. Miss Margaret Neil Fraser, the famous golfer, was one of those who died there, and many beds were endowed in the Second Unit in her memory.

The Third Serbian Unit when on its way out was commandeered by Lord Methuen at Malta for service among our own wounded troops, a service they were glad to render. Later when the Germans and Austrians overran Serbia, one of the Units retreated with the Serbian Army, but the one in which Dr. Inglis was, remained at Kralijevo where she refused to leave her Serbian wounded, knowing they would die without her care. She was captured with her staff and, after difficulties and indignities and discomforts, were released by the Austrians and returned through Switzerland to England. On her return she urged the War Office to send her, and her Unit, to Mesopotamia. Rumors had already reached England of the terrible state of things there from the medical point of view, which was fully revealed later by the Mesopotamian Commission. She was refused permission to go, though it is perfectly clear their assistance would have been invaluable and ought to have been used. Once more she returned to help the Serbians and established Units in the Balkans and South Russia. The Serbian people have shown every token of gratitude and of honor which it was in their power to bestow upon her. The people in 1916 put up a fountain in her honor at Mladenovatz, and the Serbian Crown Prince conferred on her the highest honor Serbia has to give, the First Order of the White Eagle. Dr. Inglis died, on November 26th, three days after bringing her Unit safely home from South Russia. Memorial services were held in her honor at St. Margaret's, Westminster, and in St. Giles's Cathedral, Edinburgh. Those who were there speak of it not as a funeral but as a triumph. The streets were thronged; all Edinburgh turned out to do her homage as she went to her last resting place. The Scottish Command was represented and lent the gun-carriage on which the coffin was borne and the Union Jack which covered it.

In the Cathedral the Rev. Dr. Wallace Williamson, Dean of the Order of The Thistle, said: "We are assembled this day with sad but proud and grateful hearts to remember before God a very dear and noble lady, our beloved sister, Elsie Inglis, who has been called to her rest. We mourn only for ourselves, not for her. She has died as she lived, in the clear light of faith and self-forgetfulness, and now her name is linked forever with the great souls who have led the van of womanly service for God and man. A wondrous union of strength and tenderness, of courage and sweetness, she remains for us a bright and noble memory of high devotion and stainless honor.... Especially today, in the presence of representatives of the land for which she died, we think of her as an immortal link between Serbia and Scotland, and as a symbol of that high courage which will sustain us, please God, till that stricken land is once again restored, and till the tragedy of war is eradicated and crowned with God's great gifts of peace and of righteousness."

The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies also sent the Millicent Fawcett Unit, named after its honoured President, to Russia in 1916 to work among the Polish refugees, especially to do maternity nursing, and work among the children.

In February a Maternity Unit started work in Petrograd. With an excellent staff of women doctors, nurses and orderlies, the little hospital proved a veritable haven of helpfulness to the distressed refugee mothers. It soon established so good a reputation for its thorough and disinterested work that the help of the workers was asked for by the Moscow Union of Zemstovos (Town and Rural Councils) for Middle Russia and Galicia.

In May the Millicent Fawcett Hospital Units were sent out and at Kazan on the Volga a badly needed Children's Hospital for infectious diseases was opened. The only other hospital in the place was so full that it had two patients in each bed. They had a fierce fight against diphtheria and scarlet fever, which in many cases was very bad, and they succeeded in saving most of the children, who would certainly have died in their miserable homes.

In the summer, the Units took over a small hospital at Stara Chilnoe, a district without a doctor, and they treated not only refugees, but the peasants who came in daily in crowds from the surrounding districts. Other Units of the same kind were started in remote districts and in summer a Holiday Home at Suida was run to which the women and children could come from the Petrograd Maternity Hospital for a rest. They also took charge of two hospitals, temporarily without any medical staff, in a remote part of the Kazan district, where they were objects of the most intense curiosity.

The interpreters were kept busy answering questions about the ages, salaries and husbands of the staff, and the nurses' wrist watches roused great excitement.

That their gratitude and kindness was very real, though their notions of suitability of place and time were primitive, was shown by the gift of three live hens being dumped, at 4 a.m., on the bed of a sister sound asleep.

The final piece of work was the establishing of an infectious Hospital for peasants and soldiers in Volhynia, sixty miles behind the firing line in Galicia. This was done at the urgent request of the Zemstovos Union.

There they had to deal with a great deal of smallpox and in another case with scabies which they stamped out in one small village. These Units left Russia before the recent changes, but their work was valuable and appreciated, and again American women helped us in raising the necessary funds, having subscribed $7,500 towards the Units.

One of the workers, Ruth Holden, of Radcliffe College, Boston, died in one of the epidemics. We have had American women, as we have had men, helping us from the beginning of the war. The American Women's War Relief Fund most generously offered to fully equip and maintain a surgical hospital of 250 beds at Oldway House, Paignton, South Devon, at the beginning of the war, and this offer was gratefully accepted by the War Office through the Red Cross Society.

They also gifted six motor ambulances for use at the front—and these and the hospital have been of the very greatest service to our wounded men.

Others of our medical women are with mixed Units, such as The Wounded Allies' Relief Committee. Dr. Dickinson Berry went out with others in a Unit from the Royal Free Hospital to help the Serbian Government, and Dr. Alice Clark is in the Friends' Unit.

Our medical women have won rich laurels and have established themselves in their own profession permanently and thoroughly. Behind the Hospitals, we have the thousands of women who every day are working at the Hospital Supply Depots of our country. These are everywhere and nothing is more wonderful than the way in which our voluntary workers have gone on faithfully working, conforming to discipline and hours and steady service as conscientiously as any paid worker.

The organizing ability displayed by our women in this amounts to genius. The buying of material, cutting and making up, parcelling, storing, and packing of gigantic supplies, all the secretarial and clerical work involved has been the work of women and mostly of women of the leisured classes, many of them without any previous training. From the organization of the big schemes of supply down to such work as the collecting of sphagnum moss, everything that was needed has been done, and done well.


"It's a long, long way to Tipperary, But my heart's right there."




"Blighty" is Home, the British soldiers in India's corruption of the Hindustanee, and Blighty is a word we all know well now.

The full records of this are not easy to give—so much has been done. Perhaps the simplest way is to begin with the soldier at the training camp and follow him through his soldier's existence. The first work lies in giving him comforts, and the women of our country still knit a good deal and in the early days knitted, as you do now to get your supplies, in trains and tubes and theatres and concerts, and public meetings. This was happening while many of our working women were without work and it was felt that this was likely to compete very seriously with the work of these women. The Queen realized there was likely to be hardships through this and also that there would probably be a great waste of material if voluntary effort was not wisely guided. So she called at Buckingham Palace a committee of women to consider the position and Queen Mary's Needlework Guild was the outcome of it. The following official statement, issued on August 21, 1914, intimated the Queen's wishes and policy.

Queen Mary's Needlework Guild has received representations to the effect that the provision of garments by voluntary labor may have the consequence of depriving of their employment workpeople who would have been engaged for wages in the making of the same garments for contractors to the Government. A very large part of the garments collected by the Guild consists, however, of articles which would not in the ordinary course have been purchased by the Government. They include additional comforts for the soldiers and sailors actually serving, and for the sick and wounded in hospital, clothing for members of their families who may fall into distress, and clothing to be distributed by the local committees for the prevention and relieving of distress among families who may be suffering from unemployment owing to the war. If these garments were not made by the voluntary labor of women who are willing to do their share of work for the country in the best way open to them, they would not, in the majority of cases, be made at all. The result would be that families in distress would receive in the winter no help in the form of clothing, and the soldiers and the sailors and the men in hospitals would not enjoy the additional comforts that would be provided. The Guild is informed that flannel shirts, socks, and cardigan jackets are a Government issue for soldiers; flannel vest, socks, and jerseys for sailors; pajama suits, serge gowns for military hospitals; underclothing, flannel gowns and flannel waistcoats for naval hospitals. Her Majesty the Queen is most anxious that work done for the Needlework Guild should not have a harmful effect on the employment of men, women, and girls in the trades concerned, and therefore desires that the workers of the Guild should devote themselves to the making of garments other than those which would, in the ordinary course, be bought by the War Office and Admiralty. All kinds of garments will be needed for distribution in the winter if there is exceptional distress.

The Queen would remind those that are assisting the Guild that garments which are bought from the shops and are sent to the Guild are equally acceptable, and their purchases would have the additional advantage of helping to secure the continuance of employment of women engaged in their manufacture. It is, however, not desirable that any appeal for funds should be made for this purpose which would conflict with the collection of the Prince of Wales's Fund.

Branches of Queen Mary's Needlework Guild were started everywhere and the Mayoresses of practically every town in the Kingdom organized their own towns. Gifts came from all over the world and a book kept at Friary Court, St. James', records the gifts received from Greater Britain and the neutral countries.

The demand for comforts was very great and in ten months the gross number of articles received was 1,101,105, but this did not represent anything like all. It was the Queen's wish that the branches of her Guild should be free to do as they wished in distribution, send to local regiments, or regiments quartered in the neighborhood, or use them for local distress. Great care was taken to see there was no overlapping, and this is secured fully by Sir Edward Ward's Committee.

Our men have been well looked after in the way of comforts, socks and mitts and gloves and jerseys, and mufflers and gloves for minesweepers and helmets, everything they needed, and the Regimental Comforts Funds and work still exists as well, all co-ordinated now.

The Fleet has also had fresh vegetables supplied to it the whole time by a voluntary agency.

At the Training Camps, in France, in every field of war, we have the Y.M.C.A., and there is no soldier in these days and no civilian who does not know the Red Triangle. There are over 1,000 huts in Britain and over 150 in France. It is the sign that means something to eat and something warm to drink, somewhere cozy and warm out of the cold and chill and damp of winter camp and trench, somewhere to write a letter, somewhere to read and talk, somewhere that brings all of "Blighty" that can come to the field of war. In our Y.M.C.A. huts, 30,000 women work. In the camp towns we have also the Guest Houses, run by voluntary organizations of women. In the Town Halls we have teas and music and in our houses we entertain overseas troops as our guests.

Our men move in thousands to and from the front, going and on leave, moving from one camp to another, and Victoria Station, Charing Cross and Waterloo are names written deep in our hearts these days. We have free buffets for our fighting men at all of these, and at all our London stations and ports, and these are open night and day. All the money needed is found by voluntary subscriptions.

Our men come in on the leave train straight from the trenches, loaded up with equipment, with their rifles canvas-covered to keep them dry and clean, with Flanders mud caked upon them to the waist, very tired, with that look they all bring home from the trenches in their eyes, but in Blighty and trying to forget how soon they have to go back. The buffets are there for them, and those who have no one to meet them in London and who have to travel north or west or east to go home, are met by men and women who direct them where to go by day and motor them across London to their station at night. The leave trains that get in on Sunday morning brings Scottish soldiers that cannot leave till evening, and St. Columba's, Church of Scotland, has stepped into the breach. The women meet the train, carry off the soldier for breakfast in the Hall, which is ready, and they entertain them all day. Thousands have been entertained in this way, and "It's just home," said one Gordon Highlander.

The soldier is in France and there he finds we have sent him Blighty, too—canteens and Y.M.C.A. Huts. Our books and our magazines, everything we can think of and send, goes to every field of war.

He is followed where he can be by amusement and entertainment. Concert parties are arranged by our actors and actresses, and they go out and sing and act and amuse our men behind the lines. Lena Ashwell has organized Concert parties and done a great work in this way.

Such work as Miss McNaughton's, recorded in her "Diary of the War," and for which she was decorated before her death, largely caused by overwork, as Lady Dorothie Fielding's ambulance work, for which she also was decorated, and the work of the "Women of Pervyse" stand out, even among the wonderful things done by individual women in this war.

The "Women of Pervyse," Mrs. Knocker, now the Baronnes de T'Serclas, and Miss Mairi Chisholm, went out with the Field Ambulance Committee, and were quartered with others at Ghent before and during and after the siege of Antwerp. When the ambulance trains started to come in from Antwerp they worked day and night moving the wounded from the station to the hospitals—they worked for hours under fire moving wounded, unperturbed and unshaken.

After the battle of Dixmude and the armies had settled on the Neuport-Ypres line, Mrs. Knocker started the Pervyse Poste de Secours Anglis, a dressing station so close to the firing line that the wounded could literally be lifted to it from the trenches.

There they have worked and cared for the men in conditions almost incredible. In February, 1915, they were decorated by King Albert, and since March they have been permanently attached to the Third Division of the Belgian Army.

In June, 1915, they were mentioned in dispatches for saving life under heavy fire. They have saved hundreds of lives by being where they can render aid so swiftly, and the military authorities do not move them, not only because they wish to pay tribute to their valor but because they are so valuable.

Most of all, "Blighty" goes to the soldier in his letters and there is nothing so dear to the soldier as his letters, and nothing is worse than to have "no mail." The woman who does not write, and the woman who writes the wrong things, are equally poor things. The woman who wants to help her man sends him bright cheerful letters, not letters about difficulties he can't help, and that will only worry him, but letters with all the news he would like to have, and the messages that count for so much. Every woman who writes to a soldier has in that an influence and a power worthy of all her best. Not only our letters but our thoughts and our prayers are a wall of strength to, and behind our men.

In this war some have talked of spiritual manifestations that saved disaster in our great retreat. In that people may believe or disbelieve, but no person of intelligence fails to realize the power of thought, and love, and hope, and the spirit of women can be a great power to their men in arms. There are so many ways of giving and sending that none of us need to fail.

Then he is in it—in the trenches—over the top—and he may be safe or he may be wounded—a "Blighty one," as our men say, and we get him home to nurse and care for—or he may make the supreme sacrifice and only the message goes home.

To everyone it must go with something of the consolation of the poem written by Rifleman S. Donald Cox of the London Rifle Brigade.

"To My Mother—1916

"If I should fall, grieve not that one so weak And poor as I Should die. Nay, though thy heart should break, Think only this: that when at dusk they speak Of sons and brothers of another one, Then thou canst say, 'I, too, had a son, He died for England's sake,'"

He may be a prisoner and then we follow him again. There are over 40,000 of our men prisoners and we have over 200,000 of the enemy. The treatment and conditions of our prisoners in Germany were sometimes terrible—the horrors of Wittenberg we can never forget, and we are deeply indebted to the American Red Cross, for all it did before America's entry into the war, for our prisoners.

From the beginning of the war we have had to feed our prisoners, and for the first two years parcels of food went from mothers, sisters and relatives of the men. Regimental Funds were raised and parcels sent through these. Girls' Clubs and the League of Honour and Churches and groups of many kinds sent also. The Savoy Association had a large fund and did a great work.

Parcels, which must weigh under eleven pounds, go free to prisoners of war and there are some regulations about what may be sent. Now the whole work is regulated by the Prisoners of War Help Committee—an official committee, and parcels are sent out under their supervision to every man in captivity.

Books, games and clothing also go out from us. In most of the Camps and at Ruhleben, where our civilians are interned, studies are carried on, and classes of instruction, and technical and educative books are much needed and demanded. Schools and colleges have sent out large supplies of these.

We have also raised funds for the Belgian Prisoners of War in Germany.

We have exchanged prisoners with Germany and have secured the release and internment in Switzerland of some hundreds of our worst wounded, and permanently disabled, and tubercular and consumptive men. In Switzerland, among the beautiful mountains, they are finding happiness and health again and many of them are working at new trades and training.

We sent out their wives to see them and some girls went to marry their released men. Some of our prisoners have escaped from Germany and reached us safely after many risks and adventures.

"Blighty" goes out to our men also in our Chaplains, the "Padres" of our forces, and many times soldiers have talked to me of their splendid "Padre" in Gallipoli, or France or Egypt. They have died with the men, bringing water and help and trying to bring in the wounded. They have been decorated with the V.C., our highest honor, the simple bronze cross given "For Valour." They write home to mothers and wives and relatives of the men who fall, and send last messages and words of consolation.

Their task is a great one, for to men who face death all the time, and see their dearest friends killed beside them, things eternal are living realities and there are questions for which they want answers. There is so much the Padre has to give and his messages are listened to in a new way and words are winged and living where these men are.

We have so many of our men from overseas among us who are far from their own homes, and in London we have Clubs for the Canadians, the Australians, the New Zealanders, for the two together, immortally to be known as the "Anzacs," and for the South Africans, where they can all find a bit of home. We have also just opened American Huts and the beautiful officers' Club at Lord Leconfield's house, lent for the purpose.

For the permanently disabled soldier we are doing a great deal. St. Dunstan's, the wonderful training school for the blind, has been the very special work of Sir Arthur Pearson, who is himself blind, and Lady Pearson.

The Lord Roberts Workshops for the disabled are doing splendid work in training and bringing hope to seriously crippled men.

The British Women's Hospital for which our women have raised $500,000, is on the site of the old Star and Garter Hotel at Richmond, and is to be for permanently disabled men.

There, overlooking our beautiful river, men who have been broken in the wars for us, may find a permanent home in this monument of our women's love and gratitude.


"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchant's ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

* * * * *

"She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

* * * * *

"Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come."

—PROV., Chap. 31.



The first result of the outbreak of war for women was to throw thousands of them out of work.

Nobody knew—not even the ablest financial and commercial men—just what a great European war was going to mean, and luxury trades ceased to get orders; women journalists, women writers, women lecturers, and women workers of every type were thrown out of work and unemployment was very great.

A National Relief Fund was started for general distress and the Queen dealt in the ablest manner with the women's problem. She issued this appeal: "In the firm belief that prevention of distress is better than its relief, and employment is better than charity, I have inaugurated the 'Queen's Work for Women Fund,' Its object is to provide employment for as many as possible of the women of this country who have been thrown out of work by the war. I appeal to the women of Great Britain to help their less fortunate sisters through the fund.


This appeal was instantly responded to and large sums were subscribed. A very representative Committee of Women was established, with Miss Mary MacArthur, the well known Trade Union leader, as Hon. Secretary and the Queen was in daily touch with its work.

In the dislocation of industry which had caused the committee's formation, it was found that there was great slackness in one trade or a part of it and great pressure in other parts of it or other trades. The problem was to use the unemployed firms and workers for the new national needs.

The committee considered it part of their work to endeavor to increase the number of firms getting Government contracts, and they created a special Contracts Department, under the direction of Mr. J.J. Mallon, of the Anti-sweating League. They, as a result, advised in regard to the placing of contracts and they undertook to get articles for the Government, or ordered by other sources, manufactured by firms adversely affected by the war or in their own workrooms. They worked with the firms accustomed to making men's clothing and now unemployed, and found that they could easily take military contracts if certain technical difficulties were removed. They interviewed the War Office authorities, modifications were suggested and approved and the full employment in the tailoring trade which followed gave a greatly improved supply of army clothing. Contracts were secured from the war office for khaki cloth, blankets, and various kinds of hosiery, and these were carried out by manufacturers who otherwise would have had to close down.

The Queen gave orders for her own gifts to the troops, and considerable work was done through trade workshops, care being taken to see that this work was only done where ordinary trade was fully employed. Two contracts from the War Office, typical of others, were for 20,000 shirts and for 2,000,000 pairs of army socks. Over 130 firms received contracts through the committee.

New openings for trades were tested and the possibility of the transference of work formerly done in Germany.

In its Relief Work the committee had its greatest problems. It was clear that if rates paid were high, women would come in from badly paid trades, and it was clear that if they sold the work, it would injure trade—so in the end it was decided to pay a low wage, 11/6 a week—and to give away, through the right agencies, the garments and things made in the workrooms.

The inefficiency of many workers was very clear and training schemes resulted—for typing, shorthand, in leather work, chair seat willowing, in cookery, dressmaking and dress-cutting, home nursing, etc.

Professional women were helped through various funds and workrooms were established by other organizations, several being started in London by the N.U.W.S.S.

As the months went on women began to be absorbed more and more into industry. Men were going into the army ceaselessly, our war needs were growing greater and our women found work opening out more and more. The Women's Service Bureau had been opened within a week of the outbreak of war and had done valuable work in placing women, before the Board of Trade issued its first official appeal to women, additional to those already in industry, to volunteer for War Service. It was sent out by Mr. Runciman, President of the Board of Trade, and read as follows:

The President of the Board of Trade wishes to call attention to the fact that in the present emergency, if the full fighting power of the nation is to be put forth on the field of battle, the full working power of the nation must be made available to carry on its essential trades at home. Already, in certain important occupations there are not enough men and women to do the work. This shortage will certainly spread to other occupations as more and more men join the fighting forces.

In order to meet both the present and the future needs of national industry during the war, the Government wish to obtain particulars of the women available, with or without previous training, for paid employment. Accordingly, they invite all women who are prepared, if needed, to take paid employment of any kind—industrial, agricultural, clerical, etc.—to enter themselves upon the Register of Women for War Service which is being prepared by the Board of Trade Labour Exchanges.

Any woman living in a town where there is a Labour Exchange can register by going there in person. If she is not near a Labour Exchange she can get a form of registration from the local agency of the Unemployment Fund. Forms will also be sent out through a number of women's societies.

The object of registration is to find out what reserve force of women's labour, trained or untrained, can be made available if required. As from time to time actual openings for employment present themselves, notice will be given through the Labor Exchanges, with full details as to the nature of work, conditions, and pay, and, so far as special training is necessary, arrangements will, if possible, be made for the purpose.

Any woman who by working helps to release a man or to equip a man for fighting does national war service. Every woman should register who is able and willing to take employment.

The forms were sent out in large numbers through the women's societies of the country, and it was stated on them that women were wanted at once for farm-work, dairy work, brush-making, leather stitching, clothing, machinery and machining for armaments.

By next day the registrations were 4,000, mostly middle-class women, and in the first week 20,000 registered and an average of 5,000 a week after, but the mass of women who registered waited with no real lead or use of them for a long time. The Government seemed to suffer from a delusion a great many people have, that if you have enough machinery and masses of names something is being done, but you do not solve any problem by registers. You solve it by getting the workers and the work together.

The Government had not approached employers at first, but had left it to them entirely to take the initiative in this great replacement. This they had to a considerable extent done, using the Labour Exchanges and the other agencies and women were more and more quickly, steadily, ceaselessly replacing men.

The appeals for women for munition work were most swiftly responded to and educated women volunteered in thousands, as did working girls and women.

The question of assisting employment by fitting more women for commercial and industrial occupations was considered by the Government, and in October, 1915, the Clerical and Commercial Occupations Committee was appointed by the Home Office—a similar committee being set up for Scotland. It arranged with the London County Council and with local authorities that their Education Committees should initiate emergency courses all over the country for training in general clerical work, bookkeeping and office routine. The courses lasted from three to ten weeks, and the age of the students varied from eighteen to thirty-five.

Many free courses were inaugurated by business firms in large London stores, notably Harrods and Whiteleys, where their courses included all office and business training. Six week courses of free training for the grocery trade, for the boot trade, lens making, waiting, hairdressing, etc., were also given.

Our woman labor has been found to be quite mobile and girls have moved in thousands from one part of the country to another, and the munition girl travelling home on holiday on her special permit is a familiar figure.

The registration, placing and moving of our workers is all done by our Labour Exchanges, now renamed Employment Exchanges and transferred from the Board of Trade to the Ministry of Labour.

When the National Service Department was set up, a Women's Branch was established with Mrs. H.J. Tennant, and Miss Violet Markham as Co-directors, and they made various appeals, registered women for the land, munitions, W.A.A.C. and for wood cutting and pitprop making. A great demonstration of "Women's Service" was held in the Albert Hall in January 17, 1917, at which Mrs. Tennant and Miss Markham, Lord Derby, Minister of War; Mr. Prothero, President of the Board of Agriculture, and Mr. John Hodge, Minister of Labour, spoke and at which the Queen was present. It was an appeal to women for more work and a registration of their determination to go on doing all that was needed. The men's message was one to equals—they asked great things. A message from Queen Mary was read for the first time at any public meeting and it was the only occasion on which she has attended one.

The number of women now in our industry directly replacing men, according to our latest returns, is over one and a quarter millions. This does not include domestic service, where our maids grow less and less numerous and Sir Auckland Geddes, Director of National Service, tells us he is considering cutting down servants in any establishment to not more than three, and it does not include very small shops and firms.

The processes in industry in which women work are numbered in hundreds. The War Office in 1916 issued an official memorandum for the use of Military Representatives and Tribunals setting forth the processes in which women worked and the trades and occupations, and giving photographs of women doing unaccustomed and heavy work, to guide the Tribunals in deciding exemptions of men called up for Military Service.

In professional work today women are everywhere. There are 198,000 women in Government Departments, 83,000 of these new since the war. They are doing typing, shorthand, and secretarial work, organizing and executive work. They are in the Censor's office in large numbers and doing important work at the Census of Production. There are 146,000 on Local Government work. The woman teacher has invaded that stronghold of man in England, the Boys' High and Grammar Schools, and is doing good work there. They are replacing men chemists in works, doing research, working at dental mechanics, are tracing plans. They are driving motor cars in large numbers. Our Prime Minister has a woman chauffeur. They are driving delivery vans and bringing us our goods, our bread and our milk. They carry a great part of our mail and trudge through villages and cities with it. They drive our mail vans, and I know two daughters of a peer who drive mail vans in London. I know other women who never did any work in their lives who for three years have worked in factories, taking the same work, the same holidays, the same pay as the other girls. Women are gardeners, elevator attendants, commissionaires and conductors on our buses and trams, and in provincial towns drive many of the electric trams.

In the railways they are booking clerks, carriage and engine cleaners and greasers, and carriage repairers, cooks and waiters in dining cars, platform, parcel and goods porters, telegraphists and ticket collectors and inspectors, and labourers and wagon sheet repairers. They work in quarries, are coal workers, clean ships, are park-keepers and cinema operators. They are commercial travellers in large numbers. They are in banks to a great extent and are now taking banking examinations.

There was a very strong feeling as the replacement by women went on that there must be no lowering of wage standards which would not only be grossly unfair to women but imperil the returning soldier's chance of getting his post back.

Mrs. Fawcett, on behalf of the Women's Interests Committee of the N.U.W.S.S., called a conference on the question of War Service and wages in 1915, and Mr. Runciman stated at the conference:

As regards the wages and conditions on which women should be employed, as a general principle the Exchanges did not, and could not, take direct responsibility as to the wages and conditions, beyond giving in each case such information as was in their possession. In regard, however, to Government contractors, it had been laid down that the piece rates for women should be the same as for men, and further special instructions had been given to the Exchanges to inform inexperienced applicants of the current wages in each case, so that they should be fully apprised as to the wage which it was reasonable for them to ask. A general safeguard against permanent lowering of wages by the admission of women to take the place of men on service would be made by asking employers, so far as possible, to keep the men's places open for them on their return.

Wages in most cases are at the same rate as men, and as women are organized in Britain in large numbers, the Trades Unions and Women's Committees are always alive and ready to act on the question of payment and conditions. Our workers, men and women, are very well paid and despite high prices, were never more comfortable, and never saved more. The call for women to replace men still goes on in Britain. Miners are going to be combed out again. The Trade Unions have been again approached by the Premier and Sir Auckland Geddes on this question of man power. The Battalions must be filled up—in France we need 2,000,000 men all the time and of these 1,670,000 are from our own Islands.

It is calculated there are in Britain today—Ireland is not tapped in woman power any more than in man power—less than a million women who could do more important work for the war than they are now doing. Most of these are already doing work of one kind or another, but could probably do more.

Our homes, our industries, munitions, the land, hospitals, Government service and the Waac's are absorbing us in our millions. Britain could not have raised her Army and Navy and could not now keep her men in the field without the mobilization of her women and their ceaseless, tireless work behind her men, and as substitutes for them, in the working life of the community.


"For all we have and are, For all our children's fate— Rise up and meet the war, The Hun is at the gate.

* * * * *

"Comfort, content, delight, The ages' slow-bought gain, Have shrivelled in a night, Only ourselves remain.

* * * * *

"Though all we knew depart, The old commandments stand, In courage keep your heart, In strength lift up your hand."




"Hats off to the Women of Britain!"—Sir ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE in The Times, November 28, 1916.

When war broke out the Government had three National workshops producing munitions—today it has 100, and it controls over 5,000 establishments through the Ministry of Munitions, many of which are continually growing in size.

The total output has increased over thirty-fold but in many cases increase in production has been far greater. In guns, the production of 4.5 field howitzers is over fifty times as large; of machine guns and howitzers over seventy times and of heavy howitzers (over 6 inch) over 420 times as large.

More small shell is now made in a fortnight than formerly in a year, and the increase in output of heavy shell has been still larger. Equally striking results have been attained in the production of machine guns, aeroplanes motor bodies, and the other war supplies, for which demand and replacement have necessarily grown with the demand for guns and shells. To these have to be added the ships and the anti-submarine and anti-aircraft machines and devices that have been demanded by the enemy's method of warfare.

This work has only been possible in a country that has raised five million men, 75 per cent from our own islands, because of what women have done.

Today there are between 800,000 and 1,000,000 women in munitions works in our country, and the history of their entry and work is a wonderful one. Women themselves were quicker than the Government to realize how much they would be needed in munitions, and started to train before openings were ready.

Women realized vividly what Lloyd George's speech of June, 1915, made clear, the urgent, terrible need of our men for more munitions—the Germans could send over ten shells to our one—and women volunteered in thousands for munition work.

The London Society for Women's Suffrage, which was running "Women's Service," had women volunteers for munitions in enormous numbers and tried to secure openings for them. It investigated and found that acetylene welders were badly needed. There were very few in Britain, and welding is essential for aircraft and other work, so they started to find out if there were classes for training women, and found none in Technical Schools were open to women. They found welders were needed very much in certain aircraft factories in the neighborhood of London and the manager of one assured them that if women were trained satisfactorily for oxy-acetylene welding, he would give them a trial. So "Women's Service" decided to open a small workshop and secured Miss E.C. Woodward, a metal worker of long standing, as instructor. The school was started in a small way with six pupils. Oxy-acetylene welding is the most effective way of securing a perfect weld without any deleterious effect upon the metal.

The great heat needed for the purpose of uniting two or more pieces of metal so as to make of them an autogenous whole is obtained, in this process, by the burning of acetylene gas in conjunction with oxygen.

Carbide, looking like little lumps of granite, is placed in a tray at the bottom of the generator for acetylene gas, which is of the form of a small portable gasometer. The tap, admitting water to the carbide trays, is turned on, and gas at once generates, and forces up the generator in the way so familiar to those who often see a gasometer. This gas passes through a tube to the blow-pipe of the welder, or to any other use for which it is destined.

In oxy-acetylene welding, the process employs the flame produced by the combustion in a suitable blow-pipe of oxygen and acetylene. When a light is applied to the nozzle of the pipe a yellow flame, a foot long, flares up, and in the centre of it, close to the nozzle, appears a very small, dazzling, bluish flame, which can only safely be gazed upon by eyes protected by coloured glasses. The temperature of this flame at the apex is about 6,300 degrees Fahr., and it is with this that the metals to be welded together are brought to a suitable degree of heat.

The workers' eyes are protected by black goggles, their hair confined by caps or handkerchiefs, and overalls or leather-aprons protect their clothes from the sparks and also from the smuts which naturally accrue on surrounding objects. Each welder holds in her right hand the blow-pipe of the craft, from which depends two long flexible tubes, one conducting oxygen from the tall cylinder in the corner, and the other acetylene from the generator. In her left hand she holds the welding-stick of soft Swedish iron, from which tiny molten drops fall upon the glowing edges of the metal to be welded together. The work is fascinating even to the onlooker, and to see the result, metal so welded you feel it is impossible it ever could have been two pieces, is still more fascinating.

The first welders triumphantly passed their tests and gave every satisfaction in the factory, and the training went on and the School was enlarged.

The oxy-acetylene welders turned out by this School have gone all over the country and 220 were trained and placed in the first year. Those selected were, with few exceptions, educated women, which was undoubtedly a material factor in the success of their work. This School opened training to women and welding is now taught to women in many of our Technical Schools. A class in Elementary Engineering has also been carried on by Women's Service with great success and the women placed in workshops.

The Ministry of Munitions has also arranged, in conjunction with the London County Council and other Educational Authorities, to have free munition training for women at every centre in the Kingdom. The courses vary from six to nine weeks and maintenance grants are paid during the period of training.

In October, 1915, the Central Labour Supply Committee which dealt with women's and men's conditions, issued certain recommendations in Circular L.2. These dealt with the conditions and rates of pay of women and fully skilled and unskilled men. The provision of this much-discussed circular that affected women doing skilled work was in Clause 1, which provides that "Women employed on work customarily done by fully skilled tradesmen shall be paid the time rates of the tradesman whose work they undertake."

These provisions were then only binding on the Government establishments, and could not be enforced by the Ministry of Munitions in controlled establishments. On December 31, 1915, a conference was held between the Prime Minister, the Minister of Munitions and representatives of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, when an agreement in regard to "dilution" was arranged. Circular L. 2 was adopted at this conference as the basis of the undertaking given by the Ministry in regard to dilution of labor. An employer under it can be punished as contravening the Munitions Act if he fails to carry out the direction of the Minister. The power of enforcing the provisions of L. 2 were acquired in January, 1916, and it is quite obvious that in this circular a principle of the greatest importance to men and women is laid down. Women were wholly averse to being "blacklegs" in industry.

The great work of "Dilution" in Munitions—and by dilution we mean the use in industry of unskilled, semi-skilled and woman labor, so that highly skilled men may not be used except for the most important work—is done by the Dilution Department of the Ministry of Munitions, which issues Dilution of Labour Bulletins and Process Sheets periodically, showing the work women are doing. A series of exhibitions of women's work have also been arranged by the Technical Section of the Labour Supply Department in all the big towns in England. In Sheffield over 16,000 people came to see the Exhibition—the largest number of these being foremen and workmen sent by their firms.

The Exhibitions consist of two main sections, one of which shows actual samples of munitions made by women, and the other of photographs of women doing work on apparatus or processes that could not be shown. A complete Clerget engine, for instance, was lent by the Air Board to illustrate the final assembly of the numerous parts of these engines being made wholly or partly by women. In the same way, many parts of complete Stokes Guns, Vickers Machine Guns and Service Rifles were exhibited. The exhibits were divided into fifteen groups. The first group dealing with engines for aircraft. The second group showed engines for motor cars, tanks, tractors, motor buses, motor lorries and motor vehicles.

A separate group consisted of a variety of accessories for internal combustion engines, including air pump for the Clerget engine, which is completely manufactured and assembled by women, largely under women supervision; and magnetos, a very important and accurate industry, before the war largely in German hands, of which women now undertake the entire manufacture.

The fourth group dealt with steam engines, including details of locomotives, high speed engines, steam winches, and steam turbines.

The next two groups dealt respectively with guns and components and with small arms.

The next three groups included gauges, drills, cutters, punches and dies, trucks, jigs, tap pieces and general tool-room work. The gauges included plug, ring, cylinder and screw gauges to the closest degrees of accuracy, which in practice are verified by the rigid inspection of the National Physical Laboratory.

A fair illustration of the accuracy that is habitually required in a large volume of work is to be seen in the final gauging and inspection of a screw gauge for a fuse, in which the women inspectors were described in the catalogue as examining these screws by an optical projection apparatus, magnifying fifty times, with the help of which the inspector notes the defects in size and form, and the necessary corrections.

The cutting tools included sets of cutters for the manufacture of shells, as well as twist drills, reamers, milling cutters, gear cutters, screwing dies, taps and lathe tools. Some of this work is of high accuracy, and a set of solid screwing dies has the particular interest that almost all the operations are carried out by women after they have been in the shop for a fortnight. The general tool-room work included an exhibit of seventy-one punches and dies for cartridge making. Another set of dies was shown for small-arms ammunition, and specimens were also exhibited of chucks, die-heads and other work.

Two other groups dealt with the metal fittings and wooden structural parts of aircraft, and to see girls work on these is intensely interesting—anything more fragile looking and more beautiful than the long uncovered wing it would be difficult to find. A notable feature of the metal group was a number of parts that are marked off from drawings by women working under a woman charge-hand, and themselves making their own scribing-templates when necessary. Many examples of welding work were also shown.

There were Optical Munitions and medical and surgical glass and X-ray tubes made entirely by women, and the Exhibitions record the progress of women in Munitions in the most wonderful and striking way.

Mr. Ben. H. Morgan, Chief Officer, in a recent speech on Munitions and Production said:

"Labor had to be found to staff the thousands of factories in which this stupendous production was to be carried out, and it has been possible to find it only by subdividing work closely, and entrusting a large variety of machinery and fitting to women, with the help of the fullest possible equipment of jigs and all available appliances for mechanically defining and facilitating the work, and of instruction by skilled men. By this means an output has been obtained that will compare favorably with that of any class of workers in any country. Comparing, for instance, our women's figures of output on certain sizes of shell and types of fuses with those of men in the United States, I found recently that the women's machining times were not only as good but in many cases better than those of men in some of the best organized American shops.

"This is an extraordinary result to have been obtained from women who, for the most part, had never known either the work or the discipline of factory life, and were wholly unused to mechanical operations. More than one circumstance has doubtless contributed to making it possible; but it is my assured conviction that foremost among the incentives by which women have been helped has been their constant thought of their flesh and blood, their husbands, brothers, sons, sweethearts, in the trenches. I know a typical example in a Yorkshire mother, who early in the war sent her only son to the fighting line. The lad was a skilled mechanic, and she took his place at his lathe in the Leeds shops where he worked. She is not only keeping this job going, but her output on the job she is doing is a record for the whole country."

The women workers' productions has been admirable and is steady and continues so. The Manchester Guardian of November 15, 1915, astounded women and men alike by its announcement that "figures were produced in proof of the very startling assertion that the output of the women munition workers is slightly more than double that of men."

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