Women in the Second World War

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.

Women teachers at Bury  Road
Women teachers at Bury Road

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.

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New photos

As part of the Enfield at War project volunteers have been scanning glass negatives which have been hidden for over 40 years. In the past it was much too expensive to convert these delicate negatives into a usable format. Now thanks to new technology they can be seen. Here are a few of them. We will be adding more to the blog in the weeks to come. If there are particular areas you are interested in please let us know and we will see what we can find.

Our new Enfield at War Walk will also be coming out next week. We will keep you posted.

Southgate Land Girls at Oakwood Park
Southgate Land Girls at Oakwood Park
Bomb Damage Oakwood Park Avenue
Bomb Damage Oakwood Park Avenue
Tank at Ripaults 1943
Tank at Ripaults 1943
Bomb damage Sebastopol  Road
Bomb damage Sebastopol Road