Tuesday, August 9, 2016

ATS vs. WAAF: So What's the Difference?

Every country involved in WWII ultimately involved women in the fight. Some literally as with Russia who used women in combat, others such as the U.S. and U.K. who used women in auxiliary positions. Two of the women’s organizations in England were the Auxiliary Territorial Service and the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. The largest of the pair was the ATS with over a quarter of a million members.


Formed in 1938 as the women’s branch of the British army, the ATS initially only allowed its women to serve as orderlies, cooks, clerks, and drivers. However, by the end of the war the organization was comprised of more than one hundred different jobs including postal workers, telephonists, and ammunition inspectors. 

At its inception, ATS members were volunteers, but by 1941 the Corp was given full military status and drafted its members. Two of its famous members include Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth, who trained as a truck driver, and Mary Churchill, youngest daughter of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The WAAF was the women’s branch of the British Air Force. Established a year after the ATS, in 1939, it also began as a volunteer organization. Conscription took over in 1941. Although they did not serve as crew, the women were exposed to many danger as they performed their duties at military installations. They worked as aircraft mechanics, meteorologists, and radar operators, analyzed recognizance photos, packed parachutes, handled communications, and crewed barrage balloons. Some even performed intelligence operations in conjunction with the SOE. Princess Alice served as Air Chief Commander from October 1943 to August 1944.

I think I would have preferred working in the WAAF. How about you?

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A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett writes historical fiction. Her novella Love’s Harvest is available on Amazon. She is currently seeking a publisher for her series about WWII war correspondent Ruth Brown. Visit her at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com


7 comments:

  1. It always amazes me when I learn about the roles women played in the war. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. I also continue to be amazed at the variety of ways/roles women contributed to the war effort.

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  2. The women made such a huge contribution. The WAAF sounds more exciting to me.

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    1. I thought the WAAFs sounded more exciting too!

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  3. Linda,what a great post about women during WWII in England. Women need to be honored for their contributions during war time as well as peaceful times. Yes, I believe WAAF would be exciting and more challenging to be involved with.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words! I totally agree with your comment about needing to honor women during peace time as well. Blessings!

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  4. I think that the WAAF offered more opportunities to serve but I admire all of the women who sacrificed so much. Thanks oír a great post!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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