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Just like in the previous First World War, women played a very big role in the Second World War. Firstly, they took some of the roles formerly reserved for men as the men went to war and hence kept the economy from grinding to a halt. This meant that their productivity kept their economies running (Gail and Summerfield1987). During times when evacuation became necessary as a result of enemy attacks, the children usually were accompanied by a female teacher to safer places. Later in the course of the Second World War, women joined armed forces in categories like the Women's Land Army which was reformed in sometimes in the year 1939. They had a very important role to play because very many men had been called into the military.
By the August of the year 1940, there were up to 7,000 women in the WLA which was a British unit. According to media and available TV footages, although the government wanted to make it sound glamorous in the adverts, the reality was much more different with women working in isolated communities especially very old cottages which had no running water and electricity and lacked so many other social amenities. However, by the year 1943, countries which had women on their war missions especially Britain had to stop their further recruitment as a result of shortages in laborers available for work on the land and factories (Gail and Summerfield, 1987).
Even those women who decided that they would serve the war endeavor without necessarily joining the war itself played a very big role elsewhere. For instance, many worked in factories which produced items ranging from ammunition, aero planes to uniforms. They worked very long hours hence this forced some women to relocate to the areas where the factories were located. To further emphasize on the role played by women in the war effort, the Women's Voluntary Service did a very commendable job after every bombing raid especially on London. They provided the people charged with the firefighting responsibility with refreshments' during the efforts to clean up after the occurrence of raids. This group of very committed ladies also provided tea and other refreshments to those who had sheltered in the London underground to avoid the bombardments by enemy planes.
Further, this group of women filled the role of counselors and helpers to those who had lost everything to enemy planes. The support these women provided to those who had lost everything is incalculable in financial/monetary terms. When their services were not immediately required, these ladies knitted balaclavas, Socks etc for the service men. Some women volunteer service groups adopted a given sailor and strived to provide him with warm clothing at all cost. Although all the three branches of the armed forces especially in Britain were open to women replete with very glamorous adverts, the reality was much grimmer (Gail and Summerfield, 1987).
The Auxiliary Territorial Service, which was a unit of the army open to women, was a main disappointment to them. Like soldiers, they wore Khaki uniforms but that was where any similarities stopped. For instance, they were reduced to drivers, cleaners and in the messes. By June of 1942, there were more 216,000 women in the ATS. However, overtime the women were allowed more exciting jobs such as welders, carpenters as well as electricians. Further, some women defied the other possible routes of service and joined the Women's Auxiliary Air force where their prospects were much better because they were allowed such exciting jobs like flying the spitfire's fighter jets. In addition these women were allowed to man the newly installed radar station which were used to lookout for any incoming enemy fighter jets. This was a blood chilling experience because these radar sites were usually the first targets for skive dive- bombers hence far more dangerous. However despite the dangers involved, these were the roles which these women served with a distinction. Finally, women were used as members of Special Operations Executive.
This was probably the most dangerous of all the Second World War endeavors. These gallant ladies would normally be parachuted into the lands such as the occupied France and then use their intelligence despite all the possible vagaries to get all the information they could as pertained to enemy movements and their plans. In entertainment, women played very many great roles whereby they dedicated songs to the fighting soldiers. Two of the most famous female entertainers included Vera Lynn and Gracie Fields whose songs brought happiness to many a People in Britain. The forces far away from their homeland were so enthralled by songs from home that when the war ended, many of them said what kept them going was the songs from home. In the USA a Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was introduced to be a part of the United States Army. However, according to available literature, the formation of this unit was with no intention whatsoever of creating a full fledged military unit.
Through out the world, their were women far away from the military who served in various capacities especially as nurses. These were the women who took care of their brethren who took part in the war once they were injured. These ladies, most of them direct from nursing school, defied all the possible risks to engage in the war effort. Further, these young people provided their fellow young people with the medication and the inspiration to carry on with their various endeavors. These nurses treated the people and made them feel they were wanted. Medics without borders also did the best to make these people comfortable no matter what the divide of the war they were on. Further, these young people added glamour to the war effort and gave more inspiration for the soldiers during the second war. Mostly forgotten, are the African women who had to play the role of breadwinners as their men went to war. These women, owing to their new roles as the family breadwinners had to be comfortable with frequent sexual arrestments as well as paying various taxes which had been imposed on the African households. These women became immediate family bread winners and at the same had to train themselves in a new unaccustomed role of decision makers within the family environment (Gail and Summerfield, 1987).
Apart from keeping the various economies running in the Second World War as well as the first one, these women had very serious role of explaining to the young family members where their fathers were. This had the combined role of being the counselors as well as the family breadwinners. Overtime, these are the women who had to inform their kids where their fathers were. Therefore, of all the roles played by women in the two world wars, The African women played a very big role in the war cause yet this is one aspect which as been neglected by the media and historians who have embarked on studies into the women's role during the first and the second world wars (Gail and Summerfield, 1987).