by Alison S. Fell
Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018. Pp. x, 226.
Illus., notes, biblio., index. $49.99. ISBN: 1108425763
Women Who Served Claim their Rights
Prof. Fell (Leeds), breaks ground in the study of women and the military with this look at how woman who had served – nurses, spies, résistants, combatants – leveraged their service to establish their identity as veterans after the Great War, and how they used that status to further other women’s interests.
Fell explores the different experiences of British and French women who served. While female medical personnel – doctors as well as nurses – were common to both nations, Britain had a women’s army corps, while France did not. Nevertheless, many French women worked as nurses and many were involved in the resistance in German occupied areas. And both nations had women who served as intelligence agents and spies. Post-war, female veterans and their supporters built on the hardships, injuries and deaths that they and their sisters shared with the frontline troops. In both nations several women – Emilienne Moreau, Marie Marvignt, Edith Cavell – became iconic symbols of women’s service. Fell looks at female veterans’ groups, monuments, memoirs, and more to help illustrate how the women’s service was recognized, and the limits of that recognition.
Female industrial workers, who often suffered hardship, injury, or even death, did not qualify as veterans, a fate they shared with their male counterparts, and a situation that prevailed in many countries during the Second World War.
A volume in the Cambridge series “Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare”, Women as Veterans in Britain and France After the First World War is an important read for anyone interested in women in military service, veterans and their political influence, or the social impacts of war.
Note: Women as Veterans in Britain and France After the First World War is also available in paperback and e-editions.
StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium