First World War in the News is an edited review of hand-picked World War I (1914-1918) articles - covering everything from the soldiers and generals to the trenches and militaria.

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Secret or Forgotten groups
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From Soldiers to Generals
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·· Lawrence Of Arabia
·· Alvin York
·· RIP: Remains of Soldiers
The Great War -era
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·· Health: Medics & Nurses
·· Spanish Flu 1918
·· Battlefield Casualties
Misc WWI History
·· 1914 Christmas truce
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World War II

American Civil War

WW1 Women - Female heroines

Latest hand-picked First World War news. See also: See also 'WWI Films', 'First World War Photos', 'Historical Reenactment', 'WW1 Archives'.

Why Women Pretended to Be Creepy Rocks and Trees in NYC Parks During WWI
Imagine taking a quiet stroll through the expansive wilderness of Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, New York. You`re surrounded by a forest of oak trees, stony ridges, and a tranquil lake—completely isolated and alone in nature. But in 1918, visitors to the 1,146-acre park were unaware that they were in the company of a group of women hiding among the rocks, trees, and grass. The women disguised in special (and fairly creepy) dried grass or "rock suits" were student military camouflage artists, or camoufleurs, of the Women`s Reserve Camouflage Corps, a forgotten division of the National League for Women`s Service.
(atlasobscura.com)

Veiled Warriors: Allied Nurses of the First World War
Written by a Professor and the Director of the UK Centre for the History of Nursing and Midwifery and Chair of the UK Association for the History of Nursing, it doesn`t read like an educational or academic manuscript. Published in such a timely and poignant year it`s a readable, logical and significant. Professor Hallett has published extensively on World War One Nursing and you can tell she knows her subject. It is so comprehensive, plus the bibliography is exhaustive in offering additional reading material. Included are historical writings and first hand accounts, sometimes these can distract when reading but in this book they add to the books logical format, they make the book as brilliant as it is.
(nursingtimes.net)

Why are so few WW1 heroines remembered?
World War One had many heroines, including 'she-soldiers', spies and martyrs. Their heroism was praised during the war but they were not always remembered in a positive light afterwards, says Prof Alison Fell.
(bbc.com)

Female Tommies: The Frontline Women of the First World War, by Elisabeth Shipton
`My good lady, go home and sit still.` This was the response of a Royal Army Medical Corps officer to Elsie Inglis, a Scottish woman and doctor who applied to serve as a physician in the British Army during the First World War. It characterises precisely what was not done by Inglis and the other `female Tommies` discussed in Elisabeth Shipton`s compelling account of militarised women in the war of 1914 to 1918.
(timeshighereducation.co.uk)

Florence Green, the last surviving WWI veteran, dies just days before her 111th birthday
The world's last surviving First World War veteran has passed away. Florence Green, who joined the war effort in September 1918, when she was aged 17, passed away just two weeks before her 111th birthday. The great-grandmother, who lived through all but 400 days of the 20th century, signed up to the Women's Royal Air Force two months before the end of the Great War. She was the last surviving person to have seen active service after the death of British-born sailor Claude Choules in Australia last year. Green worked at Narborough Airfield and RAF Marham, Norfolk, as an Officer's Mess steward.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Elsie and Mairi Go to War: Two Extraordinary Women on the Western Front by Diane Atkinson
"It's a wonderful feeling knowing that one is leaving England, the Island of Peace, and going straight into the most awful horror... I wonder what my fate will be in these next few months," wrote Mairi Chisholm, an 18yo upper-class Scottish motorcyclist as she hurried to cross the English Channel in Sept. 1914, with a hastily set up ambulance corps. Like most in England, Mairi was keen to do her part for her country, but also clueless about what these years of war might bring, or even what "war" was, exactly. At the same time, another woman, Elsie Knocker, was also packing to go along on the expedition.
(washingtonpost.com)

Girls Guides worked as a MI5 messengers during the First World War
Being an undercover spy is the last thing you would expect of a Girl Guide - best known for getting badges for embroidery. But a top-secret document - Duties Of H Branch - reveals that 90 teenage Guides became spooks working for MI5 in the Great War. All the girls who worked for MI5 were aged 14-16. Their main role was as 50p-a-week messengers passing on classified information. The teenagers were so trusted by MI5 bosses that they relayed some of the messages verbally. At the start of the war Boy Scouts were used, but Girl Guides were less talkative. The Girl Guides were set up by Robert Baden-Powell in 1910.
(thesun.co.uk)

White Feather Campaign: How women branded civilian men as cowards who were not real men
The First World War trench warfare of the battlefield tore young Englishmen apart. But it wasn't only on the Front that the men faced a fight that threatened them. Those men left at home faced a merciless assault on their masculinity. The White Feather Campaign began with the creation of the white feather as a symbol of cowardice and unfulfilled civic duty. With the war effort and the recruitment campaign in full swing, the women of the White Feather would present any healthy young Englishman in civilian dress with this token: Upon receipt of a white feather, these men were being told that they weren't "real men".
(studentpulse.com)

Mrs Florence Green emerges as Britain's oldest First World War veteran
Florence Green served with the Women's RAF (WRAF) in 1918 and although she did not see front-line action, the charity Veteran's Aid said she qualifies as a veteran of the war. Green was a waitress in the officers' mess during the war at RAF Marham and Narborough Airfield. Her story was discovered after Andrew Holmes, a British correspondent for the US-based Gerontology Research Group, traced her name using the National Archive. He was stunned to locate a service record for Florence Beatrice Patterson, Green's maiden name. He examined the records further and found that Florence had joined the WRAF in Sept. 1918. Green had been unaware of her status until recently.
(telegraph.co.uk)

Elsie and Mairi Go to War: Two Extraordinary Women On the Western Front [book review]
Diane Atkinson's WW1 book reveals the heroism of two unsung British women. In 1914, motorbike fanatics Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm travelled into London to 'do their bit' for the war effort. Volunteering for the Women's Emergency Corps, they were hired as dispatch riders, causing a minor scandal with their trousers (ending above the knee), leather boots and jackets. They beat 200 applicants for a posting to Belgium as ambulance drivers, and soon they were at the front, dodging sniper fire and bombardment to collect the fallen soldiers and to ferry the wounded to field hospitals. As news of their work spread they became known as The Angels of Pervyse.
(dailymail.co.uk)

The Other Anzacs: Nurses at War 1914-1918 by Peter Rees [book review]
New Zealand military history during the past 150 years has with some unwillingness recorded the place of NZ women at war. Only 3 pioneer females were recipients of the New Zealand War Medal in recognition of their bravery during the NZ Land Wars of the 19th century. This is a far cry from the use of nurses in WW1 when women from the Anzac nations volunteered to serve either as nurses or nurse aids. They were posted at field hospitals close to the battle lines and in the rear and reserve areas where the wounded were eventually moved. It was the numbers of women who volunteered that is as noteworthy as was their readiness to sacrifice their lives.
(stuff.co.nz)

ANZAC letters claim there were Female Turkish sharp shooters in Gallipoli
Mete Tuncoku, director of the Atatürk and Battles of Çanakkale Research Center (AÇASAM), came across letters and journals of Australian and New Zealand soldiers that mentioned Turkish female warriors fighting against them during the Battle of Gallipoli. It is not commonly known that women also fought during the battle, Tuncoku explained, so he researched the issue in the Australian and NZ archives. Tuncoku, author of "Çanakkale 1915: The Tip of the Iceberg," discovered letters and diaries referring "Turkish female warriors" and "female Turkish sharp shooters."
(todayszaman.com)

The World War I and the lonely soldiers
The arrival of war in 1914, and the absence of large numbers of men from home, made sure that packages and letters were being sent to the Forces in enormous numbers. These lonely soldiers were also advertising for correspondents, pals, and possibly more. To begin with, sending "breezy correspondence" to a lonely soldier was presented as a patriotic duty, one way of linking the homefront with the war and of allowing men and women at home to have a role in the conflict. Lonely soldiers not only represented an almost endless source of pals and potential husbands, but were also a propaganda opportunity.
(timesonline.co.uk)

Woman`s Land Army during the First World War
Journalist Elaine F. Weiss's lecture, "Bryn Mawr Farmerettes in the Woman`s Land Army," will discuss a movement that recruited thousands of women from cities and college campuses to replace male agricultural workers who served in the First World War. The lecture is based on Weiss' book, "Fruits of Victory: The Woman's Land Army of America in the Great War" - which is the first full chronicle of this movement. 1917-1920 the Woman's Land Army brought thousands of women into rural America. These women wore military-style uniforms, lived in communal camps, and did what was regarded "mens' work".
(brynmawr.edu)

"The Great War, the Great Movies" film series is about women and WWI   (Article no longer available from the original source)
When thinking about the First World War, most people imagine doughboys, bloody battles and men in muddy trenches. The one thing they normally don't picture: Women. But that may change if the WWI Museum and the National Archives-Central Plains Region have anything to say about it. The two are co-sponsoring a film series about women's role in the First World War. The theme for the "The Great War, the Great Movies" film series is women in World War I. The 5 films will be shown in the 230-seat J.C. Nichols Auditorium at the museum and introduced by professor and film historian John Tibbetts.
(kansascity.com)

Gladys Powers, Canada's oldest First World War vet, dies
Gladys Powers, Canada's oldest First World War veteran, has perished aged 109. Born in England in 1899, she served in the British Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and later in the British Women's Royal Air Force as a waitress. She met Ed Luxford, a Canadian soldier at the British auxiliary, and came to Canada in 1920 as a war bride.
(canada.com)

One of first Salvation Army 'doughnut girls' of the First World War
Adjutant Stella May Young, later Salvation Army Brigadier, was one of the first "doughnut girls" of the First World War (some refer to her as the very first doughnut girl) serving near the front lines in France in 1918. Those Salvation Army workers served doughnuts and coffee to infantrymen (referred to as doughboys, a term later changed to G.I.'s in the WW2). In fact, a photograph taken during the war shows a young woman near the frontlines wearing an army helmet, smiling at the camera and carrying a bowl of doughnuts. That photo was to become a postcard and an integral part of the history of WW1 as it related to the U.S. Infantrymen. That girl was Stella Young.
(lportepilot)

How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the Great War
Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War by Virginia Nicholson. The casualty lists of World War I created a demographic crisis in Britain: nearly 2 million women of marriageable age found themselves, in the fizzing of a bullet, bereaved, bereft and suddenly at a loss for someone to love. For many of those women no other love object would present himself over the course of often long lives. By focusing on women whose ordinariness allows them to serve as historic archetypes, Nicholson explores the social phenomenon that came to be known as the "Surplus Women".
(telegraph)

Femme Fatale: A Biography of Mata Hari by Pat Shipman
As World War I becomes a fading memory, the name Mata Hari conjures up the sinister image of a seductive spy who betrayed the allied cause. In reality Mata Hari, born Margaretha Zelle, was the first of the 20th century's female superstars. By the time she was executed by the French in 1917, she was perhaps the most famous non-royal. She was not much of a spy, and she did her espionage for France. The Germans did try to recruit her, and she took advance money from a German lover; and spent it, scamming the Germans. She liked men in uniform, and married Captain MacLeod of the Dutch colonial army. She gave him no end of grief with her spending and affairs.
(washingtontimes)

New book on the biography of Mata Hari to be featured on the BBC
Mata Hari was the prototype of the beautiful female who uses sexual allure to gain access to secrets. In 1917 she was arrested, tried, and executed for espionage. It was charged that the dark-eyed siren was responsible for the deaths of at least 50,000 gallant French soldiers. She had been the mistress of many senior Allied officers, even the French Minister of War. But was she guilty of espionage? And what propelled Margaretha Zelle to transform herself into Mata Hari? In a biography, "Femme Fatal; Love, Lies and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari," Pat Shipman addresses Mata Hari's guilt and motivation with new evidence.
(psu)

Gertrude Bell - Expression "larger than life" is too small   (Article no longer available from the original source)
In an age when women were expected to stay close to husband, Gertrude Bell explored uncharted deserts and unclimbed mountains. A real-life Indiana Jones, she made archaeological discoveries in an era when the methodology involved packing a gun lest the natives not be friendly. She ran Iraq when Britain, which won World War I, cobbled together that country out of pieces of the Turkish Empire, which lost the war. The great love of her life was Maj. Charles Hotham Montagu Doughty-Wylie of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He went off to die in ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, carrying only a walking stick into battle against Turkish gunners.
(startribune)

World War I and the Politics of Grief
Dec of 1915: Canadian women left to tend the home fires, needed hope. It came in an article "I Am A Proud Mother This Christmas" by a "Mrs. E.A. Hughes" - A widow who had just received a telegram informing her of the death of her only remaining son, Pte. Danny Hughes. She describes her sadness, followed by realization: "I am a proud mother this Christmas. For I gave Canada and the Empire a Christmas present. I gave them my chiefest possession ... I sacrificed the life of my boy." That historical nugget is just one among many in "Mothers of Heroes, Mothers of Martyrs: World War I and the Politics of Grief" by by Suzanne Evans.
(ottawacitizen)

Angel of the Battle of Passchendale - Nellie Spindler
She was one of a handful of brave women to experience the hell of World War I's bloodiest battlefield. Based deep inside the danger zone, nurse Nellie Spindler saw her field hospital flooded with Allied troops injured from day one of the Battle of Passchendale. The Leeds Infirmary sister was part of the small band of Queen Alexander Imperial Military Nurses sent close to the Western Front. Casualty Clearing Stations (CCS) were situated a safe distance away. But Nellie, treating abdominal wounds, needed to be closer to the action to prevent infection. But after just 3 week she would also join the massive list of fallen heroes.
(leedstoday)

The heroine who humbled me by Gordon Brown
A book by Gordon Brown salutes the women who've inspired him. Here, in an exclusive extract, he tells the story of Edith Cavell, the British nurse who faced a German firing squad for saving hundreds of World War 1 soldiers. Early in the morning of Oct 12, 1915, nurse Edith Cavell was driven to the Tir Nationale execution site in occupied Belgium, where a firing squad awaited her. She faced death as she had faced life: "I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me."
(thisislondon)

Last Known Yeoman (F) Laid To Rest
Charlotte Louise Berry Winters, the last known Navy Yeoman (F) and female veteran of World War 1, was laid to rest in Frederick, Md. Winters died at 109. Her funeral was attended by an honor guard, pall bearers, and firing party from the Navy Ceremonial Guard. She was a founding member of the National Yeoman (F) veterans` organization, and served as its 8th commander from 1940-1941. A Civil War enthusiast, she toured the country to visit famous battle sites; visiting every state except Hawaii. 11,000 Yeoman (F)s, 1,713 female nurses, and 269 women Marines (Marinettes) served in World War I.
(navy)

Charlotte Winters, 109, a Navy Enlistee in World War I, Dies
Charlotte Winters, the last surviving woman to have served in the American armed forces in WW1 and one of the first to enlist in the Navy, died at 109. She held the rank of Yeoman (F) from March 1917 to July 1919, and served her entire enlistment as a clerk at the Naval Gun Factory at the Washington Navy Yard. "She`s not No. 1 on the rolls, but she was among the first women to enlist," Jennifer Marland, of the US Navy Museum, said. Winters was among 600 women who were on duty by the end of April 1917. By Dec 1918, there were 11,000 women in the Navy. The woman sailors found the term "yeomanettes" demeaning, far preferring to be called Yeoman (F)s.
(nytimes)

20000 women seized - A little-known episode in American history
In a little-known episode in American history, 20,000 women, most of them infected with venereal diseases, were rounded up during and after World War I and confined to prisons surrounded by barbed wire and guards - without being charged. Caught of areas outside soldiers' camps, some were prostitutes, others teenage girls attracted to the glamour of soldiers going off to war, or "charity girls" who had sex in exchange for meals. "Charity Girl" by Michael Lowenthal covers the topic: "I decided I wanted to give these women the honor of imagining their situation and empathizing with it."
(iht)

True heroines of the First World War battlefields
In the trenches men prepare for the latest push over the top - that will lead to many of their deaths. And a few miles from the war zone a group of women struggle to tend to the huge number of casualties. Alongside their founder, Dr Elsie Inglis, these members of the Scottish Women's Hospitals Service are faced with a daily routine of blood and death as they strive to keep alive the young soldiers cut down by gunfire. Their base at Royaumont Abbey was one of the most important centres for medical aid during the war, but many of the stories about these women have remained unknown. Dr Elsie Dalyell was one of the most experienced doctors at Royaumont during the war...
(leithhistory)

Britain's last living female veteran of the Great War   (Article no longer available from the original source)
107 years young, she still loves to dance - Woman in B.C. rest home could be Britain's last living female veteran of the Great War. A photograph beside her bed shows her in the brimmed hat and tidy uniform of the Women's Royal Air Force. With so many British men being lost in the trenches, the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was formed in 1917. Young Miss Stokes joined as soon as she could. She later transferred to the Women's Royal Air Force. "Our duty was to look after the men who were training to be pilots." Earlier this year, a woman named Alice Baker died at 107; she was described as the last living female veteran of the WW1.
(theglobeandmail)

A rare medal won by a war heroine has sold for more than £3,000
The Military Medal was awarded to nurse Kate Carruthers for showing bravery in the face of the enemy during the First World War. Miss Carruthers was one of only a few women to receive the award for her heroic efforts in treating the wounded on the frontline. The 30-year-old nurse was stationed on the Western Front in 1917 when her field hospital came under attack. She was injured in the fighting but battled bravely through the pain barrier to continue treating the wounded. In 1917 she became one of only a few women to be awarded the prestigious Military Medal, which was created by King George V in 1916.
(coinbooks)

Play remembers female war doctor - The Influence of Beauty
A play which tells the story of a female doctor who treated wounded soldiers on the frontline during WWI has opened in Oxford. The play is based on the diaries of Dr Dorothea Clara Maude who was a graduate of Oxford University. She served in five hospitals in France, Belgium and Serbia during the war despite the British Government telling female physicians to remain at home. "The Influence of Beauty" is being staged at the Osler-McGovern Centre.
(bbc)

Dorothy Lawrence secretly posed as a man to become a soldier
Dorothy Lawrence was an English reporter who secretly posed as a man to become a soldier. In 1914 Dorothy was living in Paris and had a desire to be a war reporter on the front lines, but was unable to get employment because she was a woman. She persuaded two Scottish military policemen to cut her hair military style and then dyed her skin using diluted furniture polish to give it a bronzed color. With forged identity papers as Private Denis Smith of the 1st Leicestershire regiment she headed for the front lines, eventually arriving at the Somme.
(answers.com)

Female Intelligence - Women and Espionage in the WWI
This engaging and intelligent study of women in espionage adds to our understanding of the experience of women during the First World War and of the legacy of their work, both mythic and real. Proctor carefully explores why the image of the female "spy seductress"—notably the iconic Mata Hari—has endured and uncovers the largely unknown history of this pivotal generation of women intelligence workers. Using personal accounts, letters, official documents and newspaper reports, Female Intelligence interrogates different, and apparently contradictory, constructions of gender in the competing spheres of espionage activity.
(h-net)

The only fictional war-time account of homefront by a woman
Montgomery agonized over the battles of the First World War. She was living in Ontario, as a Presbyterian minister's wife. In her journals she recorded the horror or suspense she felt over Flanders, Verdun, Vimy, Passchendaele, the Marne, over the sinking of the Lusitania and the Halifax Explosion. She wrote Rilla of Ingleside (1920), a novel describing the heroism involved in daily life during the four years of the war. This novel is the only fictional war-time account by a woman describing the home front in Canada. Putting the novel together with the journals--and now with the personal scrapbooks --gives a very vivid picture of Canada in war time.
(confederationcentre)

Women make better spies - As long as they forget sex
Female spies, if not "oversexed", are more effective secret agents than men, according to an internal MI5 history. Women obtain more information when resisting the temptation to sleep with the enemy. "However, it is important to stress that I am no believer in what may be described as Mata-Hari methods -- the exotic dancer who obtained secrets by sleeping with army officers in WW1. I am convinced that more information has been obtained by women agents by keeping out of the arms of the man, than was ever obtained by sinking too willingly into them."
(guardian)


See also

'WWI Films'

'First World War Photos'

'Historical Reenactment'

'WW1 Archives'.