`The First World War offered Women a great degree of new oppurtunities, although only temporary. Women found themselves in new situations, which ultimately helped to change the way Women’s roles were viewed in society, challengingi the ‘separate spheres philosophy’ that had eariler shaped nineteenth-century thinking.
Nurses, Vads and FANY’s
During the Crimea War Florence Nightingale had done much to make nursing a respectable profession, she to had given nurses a uniform which was an outward symbol of both their individal personal and professional dedication, and was recognised by the general public. Florence Nightingale, also as importantly, set the precedent for women’s involvment close to front-line warfare.
1884 – The Army Nursing Service established, and received royal patrionage in 1902, becoming Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service.
Two reseve services were also created:
1. Princess Christian’s Nursing Reserve, 1894, which later became Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Service Reserve in 1908.
2. And the Territorial Force Nursing Service in 1908.
By 1914 there were only 700 trained nurses employed in War Office, Admiralty and Territorial hospitals.
By 1918 this number had grown to 23,000
Since 1910, regular army nurses had been supplemented by the War Office Schemes for Voluntairy Aid Detachments to the Sick and Wounded (VADs).
Members of these detachments were voluntary and unpaid, and as a result had to be financially self-sufficient. Hence VADs were mainly from middle and upper class families.
By June 1914 there were around 5300 women volunteering to help at hospitals, and 2,500 VAD branches had been established throughout the country.
During the four years of WW1, due to a huge recruitment drive, some 38,00 VADs worked as assistant nurses, ambulance drivers and cooks, and VAD hospitals were opened in English towns.
At first military authorities were unwilling to allow VADs abywhere near front-line troops, however this was removed in 1915, and any VAD over the age of 23 with three months’…