Conscription for women was introduced in December 1941. All unmarried women aged between 19 and 30 (later extended to 43) were required to register for war work. Women could join the services: The Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) or the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). Although women could not serve in combat roles joining the services meant that women could learn a trade such as mechanics which would never have been open to them in peacetime. Women flew planes and staffed anti-aircraft guns amongst other tasks. Winston Churchill’s daughter Mary served in the 469 Heavy (Mixed) Anti-Aircraft Battery at Chase Side, Enfield.
The ban on married women working as teachers and nurses was lifted as they were essential to replace the number of men who had gone into the armed forces.
They could also work in industry or farming. By December 1943 one in three factory workers were women making munitions, planes, ships and other items essential to the war effort.
In Enfield women took over many postal deliveries. They helped run the British Restaurants and information centres. Women worked in increasing numbers in all the local factories, such as the Royal Small Arms, Ripaults, Belling, The Metal Box and many others.
Women also volunteered as fire watchers and joined the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) which helped with billeting evacuated children, providing food and clothing for bombed out families and providing emergency rest centres.
The Women’s Land Army was set up in June 1939. At its peak in 1943 there were over 80,000 Land Girls. Land Girls were employed at Forty Hall, Oakwood Park (see below)and other farms in the area.