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Womens Army Auxiliary Corps

   The Women's Auxiliary Army Corps was formed in July 1917, allowing women to contribute to the war effort, taking over some roles from their male counterparts, freeing up more men for active service. The WAAC became the QMAAC in April 1918 and was disbanded in September 1921.

25th Aug 1917   Extract from The Times

“Women in the Army

A Statement will be issued shortly by the Ministry of Labour of the position as regards the recruiting of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, telling women where to apply and when and what numbers will be wanted immediately for different sections. Widespread interest is being taken in the drastic substitutions which are to take place in certain units, formations and offices administered by the army Council at home, at the bases and on the lines of communications overseas, in addition to those that have already been made. The approximate basis of substitution is four women for three men. For instance, four women with technical knowledge are regarded as equivalent to three technical soldiers in the Royal Flying Corps and the Army Service Corps. The women cooks, who have introduced many reforms in cooking since they took over the base kitchens, consider that in their case he basis should be reversed.

The women march to their work in the morning and march back again in their dinner hour. They are subject to strict discipline, but they understand this before going to France. The women who are already out in France have lived up to their uniform so well that only three of them have had to be sent back from France for disciplinary reasons, and these not very serious offences. One of the first batches sent out committed a technical offence against discipline out of the fervour of their sense of justice. They found that beds had been provided for them in a hut which had previously been occupied by men who only had mattresses. They took the beds out, folded them up and used only the mattresses. It happened that a number of wounded soldiers had just been brought to a hospital nearby where the beds proved very useful.

Only one fortnight in a year furlough is given, the terms of service are for a year or the duration of the war, which ever is longer. The women have to go through a medical examination as severe as that of the men, as in the hut where six women would be accommodated at close quarters it is advisable to have all fear of contagion removed. No promise is given to be able to send friends out together, but where ever it is possible this is done and it humanizes the not very interesting life lead by the average woman in the Army Auxiliary Corps in France. So far the most difficult kind of worker to get is the charwoman, who is needed for scrubbing and washing up. The women who do this kind of work are usually old and with many home ties, and not likely to be able to leave home.

The pay of the administrative appointments is not munificent, though offering a living wage.... Of the NCO's and rank and file the forewoman telegraphist is the best paid receiving 50s per week. A qualified forewoman motor-driver mechanic received 40s and a shorthand-typist 39s 6d.”

27th Aug 1917   From - The Times "Recruiting for the Women's Army

How to Join the Corps

The transfer of recruiting on behalf of the War Office for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps from the National Service Department to the Employment Department of the Ministry of Labour has now been completed.... The preliminary enrolment of candidates for the Corps will in future be effected exclusively through the local machinery of the Employment Department, and all applications should be made, either personally or by letter, to the nearest Employment Exchange.

The business of recruiting throughout the country is now in operation. An opportunity of assisting the Army is thus open to women, who are needed both at home and abroad for service with the troops to take the place of men who will be released for other purposes. It is intended that members of the corps shall be employed in various capacities, such as clerical work, motor driving, domestic work, printing and other more technical employment in the engineering and electrical sections. The women's Corps will be an auxiliary service to the British Army, with it's own uniform and serving under a special code of discipline.... The age limit for home service will be 18 years, but no candidates under the age of 20 will be accepted for service abroad. At the moment the urgent demand is for domestic workers, both to replace men and to prepare the arrangements for the other women who are to follow.

All women selected, except those chosen for employment with local units, will in the first instance be posted to receiving depot hostels. These are now being established in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Warrington, Edinburgh, Bristol, Doncaster, Newcastle and Dublin, and a special hostel has been established for women chosen for foreign service....The candidate will be interviewed and asked to fill in a form giving particulars of her age, experience, references &c., and the capacity in which she wishes to serve, if she appears on the whole suitable, her references will be taken up and if these again prove satisfactory, her name will be sent forward and she will in due course be invited to attend before a Selection and Medical Board. The Selection Board will consist of a local administrator of the Corps, a representative of the Employment Department, an Army officer called in to advise in technical cases where women with special qualifications are required, and such additional members may be necessary, meeting under the chairmanship of the Recruiting Controller, who will be a woman appointed by the Adjutant-General's Department.

Together with her notice of calling up for an interview, any candidate living more than five miles away will receive a free return railway warrant. Applicants who are chosen as suitable will be passed on forth-with for examination by the Medical Board, which in every case will meet on the same day as the Selection Board, so that there will be no uncertainty or delay on this score, and a candidate, having once been passed by the Medical Board, will be asked to fill up the final undertaking to enrol as from the date upon which she is free to take up duty, and will then be recognised and paid as a member of the WAAC. After selection an applicant will, according to circumstances, be posted direct to her hostel, or allowed to return home until she receives her calling up notice. In the interval she will draw pay as a member of the WAAC from the date she is free to take up her duty and the calling up notice, which will direct her how and where to join, will again be accompanied by a free railway warrant. Where necessary, Women will be seen off from the station and met on their arrival.

Women who are already engaged in government or munition work or on hospital work (VAD or otherwise) as well as those working under municipal or education authorities, will not be accepted for the WAAC unless they bring with them written permission from their employer of chief to volunteer; and no woman whose husband is serving overseas will at present be accepted for employment in the same theatre of war as that in which her husband is serving."

16th Jan 1918 Objection to Service

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Want to know more about Womens Army Auxiliary Corps?

There are:4 pages and articles tagged Womens Army Auxiliary Corps available in our Library

Those known to have served with

Womens Army Auxiliary Corps

during the Great War 1914-1918.

All names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Marie Annie Parry

My grandmother Marie Parry (pronounced Marry) served in the WAAC during the Great War from 1917 to 1918 so far as I can ascertain. She was very reticent, as were many, to speak about her service but stated that after her fiance was killed at the Somme (he was in the Liverpool Pals) she decided she needed to do something more than act as a housemaid for Lord Derby, at Knowsley Hall.

She therefore took herself off, alone and joined the WAAC when it was created and the only thing she would tell me was that she was stationed at Audricque, and that there was a German prisoner of war camp nearby. She spoke of the beautiful German voices singing Christmas carols, probably 1917, and how the sound of it really touched her. I have photographs of her and WAAC colleagues, together with postcards of Audricque but that is as much information as I have.

Jill Revill


Helen Charlotte Isabella Gwynne-Vaughan Woman's Army Auxiliary Corps

Dame Gwynne-Vaughan made a huge contribution to botany, being a pioneer in the study of fungi genetics. She was named the head of the University of London's Botany Department in 1909 and was brought in to lead the Woman's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1917. She found herself at the head of a force that reached nearly 10,000 women across France, from nurses to aircraft technicians, and in 1918, she also became the head of the Women's Air Force.

s flynn


Mary Ellen "Molly" Buffell

My Grandma, Mary Taplin served in the WAAC.

Sandra Taplin


Lt. Winifred Florence "Snuffy" Brealey Transport Women's Army Auxiliary Corps

My grandmother, Winifred Florence Brealey, served as a single women in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in WWI. She was originally from Bovey Tracey in Devon, born 11 November 1895, 19 Southview Bovey Tracey, to parents John Brealey and Alice Maud Brealey, nee Bratcher.

She was in the transport division of Auxiliary Service Corps and finished her service as a Lieutenant. In 1918 my grandfather, Edgar Herbert Bristen Preston-Thomas, (originally from Weybridge) who served with NZ's Wellington Infantry Battalion and was in the Gallipoli campaigns, was in London. He had been discharged upon receiving a bullet wound to the hand and from suffering subsequent sickness. It was in London they meet each other and a romance blossomed despite the 16 year age gap. They used to travel around London in a motorbike and side car. After the war they married on 16 June 1919 and immigrated to NZ. On leaving for NZ at Plymouth, Winifred was pregnant and not expecting to give birth until they arrived in NZ some 6-8 weeks later. She went into labour and gave birth almost immediately on departure and their first daughter was born just off Drake Island still within the harbour.

Upon settling in NZ Winifred kept her A.S.C uniform in her wardrobe for many years and in WWII volunteered and assisted with soup kitchens and hosting soldiers to dinner for morale and hospitality services. She continued to be patriotic and serve people and lead them in times of need. I have searched the records section and have not been able to discover her name so maybe thinking her records are amongst those that are lost from WWII bombings of London. If anyone can guide me to further research opportunities it would be appreciated.



Gladys Powers

Gladys Powers served in the British Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and later in the Women's Royal Air Force as a waitress. She met Ed Luxford, a Canadian soldier and went to Canada in 1920 as a war bride.

S. Flynn


Edith Bennett Womans Army Auxillary Corps

Born 20-09-1900, married and became Edith Back and died 12-08-1981. Joined so that she could do "her bit" as her two older brothers, George b.1897 and Walter b.1899, were serving as regulars in the Royal Navy. She was discharged 21-10-1918 against number 51064. Her unit was later changed to the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. I understand that such members of the unit were not given service numbers.

Chris Lordan

Want to know more about Womens Army Auxiliary Corps?

There are:4 pages and articles tagged Womens Army Auxiliary Corps available in our Library
  These include information on officers, regimental histories, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

First World War Army Service Records: A Guide for Family Historians

William Spencer

This revised, expanded and fully updated edition of the longstanding bestseller explains the vast First World War holdings at The National Archives and the British Library's India Office. Expert advice for all those exploring the First World War or tracing relatives who served in it. It covers material already released and some soon to come on subjects such as service records, war diaries, medals, the WAAC, London Gazette and overseas records. This is an expanded and updated edition of William Spencer's already excellent book, which is indispensible for anyone researching their ancesters who fought in the British army (it doesn't cover navy) and wants to go beyond the medal-cards and fatality records that can be easily viwed via Ancestry. William Spencer has a thorough knowledge of the National Archives, and systematically describes the War Office archives available at Kew, and crucially gives the War Office WO reference numbers of each. If you are serious about tracing Britis
Army Service Records of the First World War

William Spencer

A guide to the records relating to army personnel during World War I. This third edition is published to coincide with the transfer to the Public Record Office in early 2001 of the British Army Nurses and Indian Army Records. There are five new chapters covering: Army Nurses records; WAAC records; Indian Army records of service; Indian Army operational records; and casualties. It also provides more details on pension records; personnel files on selected officers, including General Haig; how to use the "London Gazette" to piece together a service record; expansion of the material on honours and awards; and information on service records contained within WO76. Researching a soldier of the British Army of 1914-1918 is no easy task. The records that survive are incomplete and full of military jargon that is difficult for the uninitiated. Most of the records are held at the National Archives in Kew, London, and this book gives good guidance to what is available and how to make effective


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