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Women’s Auxillary Army Cap Badge 1917

This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Military Cap badges

The Women’s Auxillary Army Cap Badge reminds us of the role women played in WWI

The service of women in WWI cannot be underestimated. They took over the role of men in a wide range of occupations, from farming to factory work but they also served in the forces, both on the home front and at the front themselves. 

This cap badge belongs to the Woman’s auxiliary Army Corps. It is made of brass with a voided centre and was worn on the issue hat which was a tight fitting khaki cap.
The characters WAAC are contained within a laurel wreath. The cap badge was issues in 1917.

Women's Auxillary Army Corps Cap Badge worn by the Women's volunteer army 1917

Women’s Auxillary Army Corps Cap Badge

Brief History of the WAAC

      • Heavy losses on the Western Front in 1916 caused a shortage of men for front line duties so, the War Office decided to remove men from ‘soft’ administrative jobs in Britain and send them to fight.
      • Women would have to fill the role left by these men and so in January 1917, despite much prejudice, the Women’s auxiliary Army Corps was established
      • The women would not be given full military status, they were enrolled rather than enlisted and they were expected to keep physically fit
      • Pay would be decided by the level of skill in the task being performed
      • There would be no ranks
      • They split into 4 work divisions, cookery, mechanical, clerical and miscellaneous
      • A woman could only be given the job if it released a man for front line duty
Intriguing Connections:
  1. Many women were engaged by the War Office to help with establishment of the WAAC,  including Millicent Fawcett, who produced the Fawcett Commission Report during the Boer War. She was keen that women should be fully involved as to their role within the British Army, to what extent did her involvement sway the thinking not just of  the military, as to the role of women in the army but that of the politicians and the people of Britain?
  2. Prejudice about women in the army, found a mouthpiece in the press, as they exaggerated the incidences of misconduct amongst women serving in France, who allowed this de-moralising reporting, the politicians or the military?
Useful resources and sources can be found at the Imperial War Museum in London, where the role of women  in WWI is well documented. The following link is a really interesting insight into recruitment of women to the WAAC.

 

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