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Category Archives: Army, Navy & other Services

Women in the Airforce, 1940

I have been very busy with work recently, so forgive the lack of blogging. For the next while I will just post interesting articles I come across, like this one from 1940-

  

Churchill’s Girls – From Dashing to Tragic

Churchill’s Girls – From Dashing to Tragic

I am in between scanners at present, so here is one Post I prepared earlier…

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was the Prime Minister of the UK for most of WWII, from 1940 to 1945 (and again from 1951 to 1955). He is often stated as being one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century,  and his radio broadcasts help inspire the British people during the war.  His children also did their bit to help the war effort.

Churchill’s only son, Randolph, served with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars and the SAS),  Eldest daughter Diana gained the rank of officer between 1939 and 1945 in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, middle daughter Sarah, between acting jobs, joined the WAAF and went on to interpret aerial photographs for British invasions.

Winston Churchill is accompanied by his daughter Sarah, Cairo, December 1943

 
Youngest daughter Mary worked for the Red Cross and the Women’s Voluntary Service from 1939 to 1941, and served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service in London, Belgium and Germany in mixed anti-aircraft batteries, rising to the rank of Junior Commander (equivalent to Captain). Mary also accompanied her father on several of his overseas journeys, including his post-VE trip to Potsdam, where he met with Harry S Truman and Joseph Stalin.

Churchill with daughter Mary at Potsdam Conference

This article from November 1940 shows how the girls captured the publics interest-

churchills dashing daughters

Unfortunately Diana suffered nervous disorders and in 1963, age 54, while working for a suicide prevention organisation, she committed suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates.

Sarah is best known for her role in the film Royal Wedding (1951), with Fred Aistere, and she made about nine movies in total. Problems with alcohol led to her death in 1982 at the age of 67.

 

November 1950

 
Mary, on her marriage Lady Mary Soames, was the last surviving child of Sir Winston Churchill, and died in 2014 at the age of 91. She left a fortune of more than £22 million, in trust to her five children, and in December 2014, Sotheby’s London auctioned on behalf of her heirs, 255 items out of her collection, including paintings by and memorabilia attached to her father. Mary’s daughter, Emma Soames, has written a book about her mother, which you read about Here.

 

the tragic Churchills

November 1963

  
 

First Grandmother in the AWAS, 1942

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The Australian Women’s Army Service was established on 13 August 1941 by the government to “release men from certain military duties for employment in fighting units” . The AWAS recruited women between the ages of 18 and 45 and they served in  a variety of roles including clerks, typists, cooks and drivers during the war years.

Anne Mitchell (nee Muter) Siggins was born 11th May 1896 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  She was 46 when she enlisted in the AWAS on 15 July 1942, and the first grandmother to do so.  Anne had married in 1916, and had four children with her husband, Gordon William Siggins (1894-1982).

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This article from the Australian Women’s Weekly, 24 October 1942.   You can read more about Anne Siggins here.

“Ferry” Pilots of the ATA – They Deliver the Goods to England, 1941

Atlantic pilots who “ferry” planes call it the safest job in the war.

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By the summer of 1941, Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love independently submitted proposals to the U.S. Army Air Forces to use women pilots in non-combat missions,  to free male pilots for combat roles.  Cochran had flown in the MacRobertson Air Race in 1934, and in 1937 was the only woman to compete in the Bendix race.  She also worked with Amelia Earhart to open the race to women.  Harkness and her husband had their own Boston-based aviation company, Inter City Aviation, and she also flew as a test pilot of other airlines in the late 1930s.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, commander of the USAAF, had turned down both proposals, despite  lobbying by Eleanor Roosevelt.  As the US was not yet fighting in the war, Cochran went to England to volunteer to fly for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), which had been using female pilots since January 1940, and was starting to train new ones as well.   Cochran was the first American women to fly military aircraft, and other soon followed, flying Spitfires, Typhoons, Hudsons, Mitchells, Blenheims, Oxfords, Walruses, and Sea Otters -in non-combat roles, but in combat-like conditions.

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Cochran returned to the United States in September 1942, just as the The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) went into operation, with Mrs. Love in charge, and women began ferrying planes from factory to airfields.  Cochran had been promised command of any women’s flying organisation by Arnold, and demanded an explanation.  As the dcision couldn’t be reversed, he made Cochran the commander of the 319th Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) at the Municipal Airport (now Hobby Airport) in Houston, Texas.

In July 1943 the WAFS and the WFTD were combined to form the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), with Cochran in command.

General’s Daughter to Lead land Army, October 1941

Sybil Howy Irving MBE (25 February 1897–28 March 1973) was the founder and controller of the Australian Women’s Army Service during World War II. She served in this position from 1941 to 1946 and was active in charity and social organisations until she was aged 74.

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This article form the Australian Women’s Weekly, October 1941.

Australian Girls working for the US Army, 1942

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