Women in paid employment were not a new phenomenon in 1914. They made up a substantial part of the industrial workforce even before the First World War, although they were mainly concentrated in textile manufacture. After 1915, when the need for shells intensified, women were brought into munitions manufacturing in large numbers. By 1918 almost a million women were employed in some aspect of munitions work.
Christabel Pankhurst (centre) and her mother Emmeline (left) founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in Manchester in 1903. It used militant campaigning to try to gain women the vote. Its members were known as suffragettes. During the war, Emmeline and Christabel led the WSPU in supporting the war effort. By contrast, Sylvia Pankhurst (right) opposed the war and in 1914 broke away from the WSPU.
Over ninety years ago during World War I, British and German soldiers put down their weapons, walked out into the desolation of No-Man’s Land and shook hands. This was the Christmas cease fire of 1914. In a moment unique to the First World War, troops were given a moment of respite from the horrors of the war when soldiers exchanged gifts, looked at each others’ family photographs and played friendly games of football with the enemy.
Taken from "The Royal Air Force: An Illustrated History" by Michael Armitage [1995, Brockhampton Press]. "Fabric workers of the Women's Royal Air Force" circa 1918 these women are sewing fabric to cover the wings of W.W.1 aircraft. Treadle Machines.