Learning new skills…

The Auxiliary Territorial Service in Britain during the Second World War
A voluntary domestic science course for service women based in the London area, organised by the London District of the Army Education Scheme, with the co-operation of the London County Council, at Avondale Park School, Notting Hill Gate, London. In this picture the Chief Instructor of the course, Mrs Evans, shows Corporal Margaret Dener how to make a salad.

Once most men of working age had enlisted into one of the armed forces at the beginning of World War 2, it was left to the women to fill the many thousands of vacancies. But then in 1941 conscription was extended to women – the National Service (No 2) Act was passed – applying to all men and women aged 18 – 60. They were expected to take on some form of national service and for those aged 18 – 51 then this would include military service.

Women who joined the army, became part of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) – except for nurses, who joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). Their roles were initially limited to cooks, clerks, orderlies, storekeepers and drivers. However, the jobs available were gradually broadened as demand for personnel increased and by 1943, about 56,000 women were serving with anti-aircraft units, although they were still not allowed to fire the guns.

So, the photo above shows one of the more ‘pleasant’ side of the ATS – serving within an anti-aircraft unit would have been quite another story…

Published by Isabella Muir

Isabella is passionate about exploring family life from the 1930s through to the 1960s and beyond. She has published six Sussex Crime mystery novels set during the 1960s and 1970s, a standalone novel dealing with the child migrant policy of the 1950s and 60s, several novellas set during the Second World War, and two short story collections. All available in paperback from your local bookshops, or online as ebooks. Her novels are also available as audiobooks, and have been translated into Italian.

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