Women

Shaping The Service: 70 Years Since The Women's Royal Army Corps Was Founded

Women have been part of the British Army for 100 years.

The role of women in the British Army is to be highlighted with an exhibition later this year.

The National Army Museum is marking 70 years since the Women’s Royal Army Corps was founded.

Women have been part of the British Army for 100 years, including the Queen, who served as a mechanic during the Second World War.

There are currently more than 13,000 female personnel in the service, and since last October all roles have been open to women.

Ali Brown, Vice President of the Women’s Royal Army Corps Association, said: "I went to the first Gulf War in 1990.W hen I came back from that in 1991, the world had changed.

"It was clear that the pace of acceleration was enormous and by 1995 we were able to serve in most roles, apart from the infantry and the armoured corps which has now been lifted.

"It kind of took us 90-odd years and then suddenly, all change."

Queen Elizabeth II training as a mechanic inthe ATS
The then-Princess Elizabeth training as a mechanic in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (Picture: PA).

The National Army Museum is focusing on the roles women have played in shaping the Army of today.

Veteran Betty Webb, 96, worked at the secret Bletchley Park codebreaking centre during the Second World War and later at a top US military headquarters.

Remembering her service, she said: "I was put into the Japanese section where I handled the decoded translated messages.

"I had to then transcribe them for transmission for our commanders in the field in Burma.

"I continued to that at the Pentagon after the war in Europe had ended and the war with the Japanese was still on."

Lt Col Lucy Giles
Colonel Lucy Giles was appointed as Sandhurst's first female college commander five years ago (Picture: MOD).

In 2014, Sandhurst appointed its first female college commander in Colonel Lucy Giles.

Col Giles, President of the Army Officer Selection Board, said: "It wasn’t until one of the girls said to me: 'We are so excited because we haven’t seen a female in the Academy of your seniority'.

"Of course, it then dawned on me that it didn’t really matter what I thought.

"You know, there is a role I had and a responsibility I had to lead the way and embrace the opportunities that being the first women in its 200-year history to do the appointment and take advantage of that and lead the way for those coming up behind me."