At home, away from the war, women worked in factories, as farmers,
businesswomen, and so on. On the front lines and behind the scenes in the war zone itself, women took on some much more difficult
and dangerous tasks.
VAD: Voluntary Aid Detachment
FANY: First Aid Nursing Yeomanry
Both of these nursing organizations played a critical role in WW1
The VADs were unpaid volunteers (and therefore
usually from a higher social class where money was not an issue) who were given basic medical training. These women, while
they could not typically give injections, could comfort and provide basic medical treatment to wounded soldiers.
The role of a FANY nurse was less glamourous.
Their jobs included scrubbing and disinfecting rooms in which wounded soldiers were to be treated, disposing of bodies,
organizing baths for front line soldiers, driving (sometimes makeshift) ambulances, and running soup kitchens for the soldiers.
Nurses who served could be found behind the front
lines of battle, in Army hospitals, on troop trains and transport ships, and anywhere else they were needed.
Several nurses were awarded Distinguished honours
by the military for their services.
Many nurses were wounded in WW1 and some died
and were buried overseas.
Navy and Army: In
the United Sates at the beginning of the war, both the Navy and the Army wanted to bring women into their numbers. As the
Army had difficulty bypassing the technicalities of the War Department regarding women, the Navy simply went ahead and enlisted
as many women as would join. 13 000 American women joined the Navy and Marine Corps. The enlisted women were given the same
uniform, insignia, and status as men.
Coast Guard: The Coast Guard was
part of the Navy, and while women were permitted to join, at the end of the War they were quickly removed from the Service.
In the Air
Women pilots were not officially recognized in
the united Sates until the first one, Harriet Quimby, was liscenced. In WW1, women pilots were seriously overlooked and
their accomplishments not acknowledged.
European Princesses Eugenie Shakhovskaya
and Sophie Alexandrovna Dolgorunaya were among the first voluntary women pilots of WW1 but, as most other women pilots,
were neither recognized nor taken seriously.
Many women in the time of the War felt compelled
to do more than serve behind men as nurses or aids. An uncertain number of women disguised themselves as men in order to fight.
Which women fought?
*Turkish (as snipers)
*More? Since women were obviously in disguise, deaths and enlistment
of women in the war effort is difficult to track.