A special committee of the Catholic Women’s League CIO
I was very privileged to be able to attend this event at the National Memorial Arboretum on behalf of the League on the 7th July to mark the centenary since the formation of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps exactly 100 years ago on that day, when women were formally allowed to serve the Crown in uniform in an official capacity. They took on the roles of cooks, clerks, drivers, mechanics, telephonists and telegraphers. Since then, women have gradually been given a greater role in the Armed Forces, culminating in 2016 where the ban on females serving on the front line was lifted. The Royal British Legion marked this occasion by holding a Drumhead Ceremony and Reception and the event more widely commemorated the contribution of women who have served the Crown on operation or in uniform since then – hence my meeting the criteria to attend the event on behalf of the Services Committee and the Catholic Women’s League.
More than 1,000 women attended and were aged between 14 and 100 – travelling from Spain, Belgium and France – which featured a Drumhead ceremony led by Reverend (Wing Commander) Ruth Hake MBE and featured an all-female tri-service military band. The youngest representative was a 14-year old cadet, while the oldest was Rose a 100-year-old balloon operator. Representatives from the WRAC association were joined by representatives from a number of other organisations including the WRNS and the WRAF.
At the end of the celebration, we were given a map of the memorials for women at the Arboretum and a ‘Women at War 100’ Poppy Cross and were asked to place it at one of these memorials. I placed mine on the CWL Bench!
CWL Services Committee