Monday, 23 September 2019

The Girls who went to War by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi.


The personal accounts of three young women who joined up in 1940.

In the summer of 1940, Britain stood alone against Germany.  The British Army stood at just over one and a half million men, while the Germans had three times that many, and a population almost twice the size of ours from which to draw new waves of soldiers.  Clearly, in the fight against Hitler, manpower alone wasn't going to be enough.

Eighteen-year-old Jessie Ward defied her mother to join the ATS, Margery Poss signed up for the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and nanny Kathleen Skin the WRNS.  They left quiet homes for the rigours of training, the camaraderie of the young women who worked together to closely and to face a war that would change their lives for ever.
Overall, more than half a million women served in the armed foces during the Second World War.  This book tells the story of just three of them - one from the Army, one from the Navy and one from the Air Force.  But in their stories are reflected the lives of hundreds of thousands of others like them - ordinary girls who went to war, wearing their uniforms with pride.
Authors: Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi
Publication Date: 7th May 2015

Publisher: Harper Element

My Review

A recent trip to the Imperial War Museum in London led me to bump into these authors signing copies of this book.  Of course I had to snap one up and I am so glad that I did.   I do have a love for any world war 1 and 2 related so this was right up my street.

The Girls Who Went to War: Heroism, heartache and happiness in the wartime women's forcesThis is based on the real life stories of three young girls that served in the second world war.   First we meet Jessie. she signs up for the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) next is Margery who signs up for the WAAF (Woman's Auxiliary Air Force) and finally Kathleen who desperately wanted to join the WRNS (Women's Royal Navy Service) but recruitment was tough and after a first rejection she had to first put in service as a land army girl, followed by a stint working on the ambulances before becoming an auxiliary nurse.  Eventually on her second application she was accepted into the prestigious WRNS.

This book does not fictionalise the war, it simply tells the stories of each of these remarkable women.  From their loves and heartbreaks to the horror of serving in the war until the day the war is declared over and the girls have to return to civilian life.

Unexpectedly, Jessie spent a big portion of the War in Humberside working the guns and trying to protect the City of Hull.  Having being born and still live in Hull myself that really struck a chord with me.  Hull was badly damaged during the war time air attacks and to think that someone like Jessie and many more like her were doing their best to try and protect it was is totally awe-inspiring.

I loved this book from page one and really felt that I was getting to know these inspirational ladies.  I cried with them, I felt their pain and I laughed with them.

If you are a lover of good inspirational war stories that this is the book for you.

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