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MERLINV12

Any WAAC - QMAAC Experts ??

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MERLINV12

Do we have any members with a particular interest/in depth knowledge of WAAC - QMAAC's who served in France ??

 

I have exhausted all the sources I know of,  read the recommended books and cannot find the answers I would like, so maybe someone can provide the answers, or point me to someone who can, or a possible source.  - Service Record not at TNA,  I have MIC & Medal Roll.

 

Main Questions are:

 

How likely was a woman to perform her civilian job, whilst serving in France  (e.g. if they were a housemaid, could they serve as a storekeeper, or a clerk) or were trades strictly adhered to ?

 

Would she have been granted home leave, in an 8 month period (23/3/18 to 24/1/1919) ?

 

Do WAAC - QMAAC service numbers equate to "enlistment/acceptance" date ?

 

Am I correct in thinking Sue Light is no longer with us ??

 

TIA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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frev

 

Sadly - to answer your last question, yes, you are correct that Sue is no longer with us.

 

No expert on the WAAC/QMAAC - but I did gather some info a while back while researching Australian ladies who served - most of which you've probably come across during your research, but, who knows, some of which might be of interest to you - or might help with your first question.

 

Excerpts from “THE WAACS” – HOW THEY ARE TRAINED (The Age, 3/12/1917):

 

“ “The Waacs,” stand in a class by themselves.  Their organisation is on strictly military lines.  They have military uniforms, they live in “barracks,” and they are drilled and disciplined by their own officers.  They are liable to be moved from place to place at a moment’s notice to meet the exigencies of the military machine, and are required to obey orders, under the usual pains and penalties attending to military disobedience.”

 

“A typical “barracks” in England contains 600 to 1000 girls, with a middle-aged woman in charge as “administrator.”  There is an orderly room, which is on much the same lines as any other military orderly room.  The work of instructing and drilling the girls proceeds from week to week, and as drafts are sent to their stations in England, France or elsewhere, others arrive from head quarters.  The sleeping quarters are ordinary barrack like rooms, each equipped with four iron army bedsteads.  The frills and decorations associated with femininity are almost entirely absent, and everything has an austere, business-like, and almost war-like, appearance.  A visitor to one of these “Waac” barracks quotes a “private” as saying, “We have to get used to doing without the beautiful things of this world, the same as the soldiers.  We never know where we will be sent next, and as we are allowed to carry only a suit case it would not do to have any appurtenances.”

 

“No barracks would be complete without a “mess.”  Here the girls take their meals at long trestle tables, and are waited on by “orderlies.”

“Then there is a barrack “square,” where the raw recruit is turned out a trained “Waac” soldier.  The women and girls are not trained in these barracks for their different army vocations.  They have all had special experience previously, and the training is therefore merely of a general physical and disciplinary character.  After the preliminary training at the barracks they are sent to a military base, camp, hospital or elsewhere to do such work as they are fitted to do, subject to a not very rigorous military discipline.  This work covers the whole range of occupations with which women have associated themselves in civil life, such as all classes of clerical work, the operating of sewing and other machines, tailoring, domestic work, checkers, packers, and storewomen, mechanics, motor drivers, etc.”

 

 

Following are excerpts from letters and later writings of Nora Dickson, giving more idea of some of the workings of the W.A.A.C.:

 

“The London depot, where approved recruits reported, was near Marble Arch, Hyde Park.  Connaught Club, previous to being commandeered by the War Office, was a big residential for men.  There one received one’s uniform and was taught drill, to form fours, form two deep, very necessary to know when being moved in groups from one centre to another.”

 

Army forms required the names of at least two local residents who would answer confidentially questions about the applicant’s personal character and qualifications.

“You could choose to join as a mobile or immobile (living at home) member, to serve in Britain only, or to serve anywhere either on home service or overseas.  But all service was required for the duration of the war and six months after armistice.

One could enrol in any definite category – clerical, transport, mechanical, household, telegraph, postal, or miscellaneous.  The miscellaneous section included workers of every trade – tinsmiths, chainmakers, welders, tailors, carpenters, shoemakers.  All were required to sign willingness to obey orders from superior officers.”

 

“Each day drafts, now looking smart in their neat, well-pocketed khaki one-piece uniform, escorted by an officer, moved off to various camps throughout Great Britain.  Later, similar depots were established at Edinburgh, Dublin, and Bristol.

For those offering for service overseas, a depot, to which all recruits were sent direct, was placed at Hastings, but this was later replaced to Folkestone, opposite Boulogne.”

 

“I have been sent down to Folkestone to take over the drilling for a few weeks.  We have taken over the most gorgeous hotel here [Hotel Metropole].  It has 600 bedrooms, a huge ballroom, billiard-rooms and dining halls (seating 1000).  Eventually we will have 1000 girls here; it is to be our overseas hostel.  We expect 600 girls in on Tuesday, so am pretty busy arranging the drill halls.”

 

“At the overseas depot at Folkstone there were four company commanders working under a head unit administrator.  Each commander had to see that her recruits were trained in squad drill, were inoculated and vaccinated by the resident women doctors, and were supplied with necessary uniform and equipment.

The catering was in the hands of a household administrator, generally a certificated domestic science graduate.  A quarter-mistress attended to clothing, equipment, and transport.  In this depot the daily average accommodation was nearly 1000 women.”

“…….. drafts of about 80 moving off to France daily to units to where their services were requisitioned.”

 

“Besides cooks and clerks we sent France bakers, motor drivers, cyclists (motor), storehouse-women, packers, telephonists, telegraphists, postwomen sorters, printers, tailors, shoemakers, acetylene welders, electricians, fitters, instrument repairers, tinsmiths, painters, carpenters, and later gardeners for the graves.”

 

“At the bases in France all the baking was done by our Corps, and even the loading of the bread into the railway trucks backed into the bakehouses was done by the women – their uniform for working being khaki drill, short jackets, and trousers.”

 

“At the establishment of a training centre for cooks and officers at Plumstead Heath, near London, I was posted there as Administrator.

We trained nearly 20,000 cooks, waitresses, and officers.  Cooks recruited from all types of homes were taught how to cook in holes in the ground, in the open air, in Aldershot ovens, and on girdles, for travelling troops; in big camp kitchens, with stoves of all kinds, in small and large messes.

The training was done by Domestic Science teachers enrolled as officers.

About 100 trained cooks and waitresses were dispersed each week to camps, the training covering about four weeks.”

 

 

Officer training: “Our daily training followed these lines.  Early morning squad drill was taught to enable officers to move squads in orderly and quick manner from one centre to another.

Each officer had to pass a test in giving necessary orders.

Morning and afternoon was taken up with lectures given by Guardsmen officers on W.A.A.C. regulations, the use of regular army forms used for requisitioning cash, stores, transport, on the method of making returns of pay sheets, on 28-day diet sheets, on answering correspondence, and ensuring full equipment and food to all members under the care of an administrator.

At night we had lectures from the W.A.A.C. officers in the hostel on household matters.

Those passing tests, after 14 days, were sent in pairs to depot camps for practical training.  There we actually worked as officers in orderly rooms, learning army routine, the use of daily orders, which detailed the movement of troops and officers, thus altering the daily requisitioning of food and cash requirements.”

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MERLINV12
Posted (edited)

Many, many thanks for taking the time to write such a comprehensive post.

 

It has been informative, and includes a confirmation that my Great Aunt would have continued with her shoemaking skills. There appears to have been a Boot Repair Shop at Calais, but as yet cannot find any evidence that she was posted there. Photos exist of the shop, but show only servicemen and French civilian workers, no WAAC's.

 

Hopefully someone can provide answers to the home leave and service number issue date questions.

 

Thanks once again, I will try and obtain a copy of the book, you quoted from.

Edited by MERLINV12

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frev
17 minutes ago, MERLINV12 said:

Thanks once again, I will try and obtain a copy of the book, you quoted from.

 

Glad it was of some help - although I have to confess it took no time as I just copied and posted some parts from my research file. 

 

"The Age" is not a book, but a newspaper - the original article can be found here:

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/155184178

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Marilyne

Merlin,

 

I do not see myself as an "expert", although I have read nearly all the books available on the matter (three still on the pile… ) but I am researching the WAACs and other women who died on the Western Front. Frev has been of tremendous help for this project already and here, there is nothing more I can add to what she already said.

 

Dr Gwynne-Vaughan, the chief Controller was a stickler for discipline, leading her girls with the military rigor she herself grew up with, as a "military brat". This did not make her very popular but at least she was efficient.

Of course women would be retained in jobs in which they could best function… Girls with domestic experience would work as servers or in general domestics, girls with experience in telegraphy or post would also be posted as such in France. That is at least the trend I've been seeing in those I researched.

 

If there is anything more we can help you with, just holler.

 

M.

 

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MERLINV12
59 minutes ago, frev said:

 

Glad it was of some help - although I have to confess it took no time as I just copied and posted some parts from my research file. 

 

"The Age" is not a book, but a newspaper - the original article can be found here:

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/155184178

 

Thanks for the link :thumbsup:

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MERLINV12
47 minutes ago, Marilyne said:

If there is anything more we can help you with, just holler.

 

 

With the absence of her SR, finding it hard to find where she served in France, from her service period dates it has been suggested (by alf mcm) that she was in a draft which arrived in Abbeville on 24/3/18,  but the list of trades does not mention anything close to boot making.  If she used her boot making skills in France, the only reference to a boot repair shop I have found is in Calais.

 

Were there any other boot repair shops where WAAC's would work other than Calais ?

 

Was Abbeville a WAAC base depot,  would she have been posted on from there ?

 

Have you found any correlation between Service Numbers and acceptance dates ? ( I have searched the TNA for 40 service numbers either side of hers, but none of those exist, so no clue from those).

 

The question of whether she would have had home leave and when, in her 8 month service period, has a much wider significance than it would appear, and is quite important, but would prefer not to expand on that just yet.

 

I realise that some questions will never be answered, but you have to ask :thumbsup:

 

Best wishes,

 

Michael.

 

 

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alf mcm

Michael,

  The WAAC/QMAAC War Diaries are available on The National Archives {free at present if you register}. There are quite a lot of them, for different areas. You may wish to download the ones for tha dates in which you are interested. Some women are mentioned by name and/or trade.

 

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_col=200&_p=1900&_hb=tna&_q=wo95%2F84+QUEEN+MARY'S

 

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_col=200&_p=1900&_hb=tna&_q=wo95%2F85+QUEEN+MARY'S

 

Regards,

 

Alf McM

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MERLINV12

Alf,

 

You must be physic, just reading through WO 95/84 2,3,8, and 9 this very minute !

 

Seems to be lots of Workers going home on leave for 10 or 14 days, so that seems to have answered one of my questions, but not mentioned by name :(

 

Thanks

 

Michael.

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Marilyne
3 hours ago, MERLINV12 said:

 

With the absence of her SR, finding it hard to find where she served in France, from her service period dates it has been suggested (by alf mcm) that she was in a draft which arrived in Abbeville on 24/3/18,  but the list of trades does not mention anything close to boot making.  If she used her boot making skills in France, the only reference to a boot repair shop I have found is in Calais.

 

Were there any other boot repair shops where WAAC's would work other than Calais ? There were EIGHT WAAC camps all over France, including Calais. so if she was working in Calais, it's more likely she'd be housed in Calais too. It is possible that her draft arrived in Abbeville, straight from the boat in Boulogne and then from there she was sent up to Calais. Good for her, in a way: some girls from the draft that arrived in march in Abbeville were amongst those killed on 30/5. It's possible then that that your relative knew, or at least travelled with them.

 

Was Abbeville a WAAC base depot,  would she have been posted on from there ? Abbeville and Wimereux were the biggest. There were TWO camps in Abbeville.

 

Have you found any correlation between Service Numbers and acceptance dates ? ( I have searched the TNA for 40 service numbers either side of hers, but none of those exist, so no clue from those). haven't looked at that at all..

 

The question of whether she would have had home leave and when, in her 8 month service period, has a much wider significance than it would appear, and is quite important, but would prefer not to expand on that just yet. The WAACs were a military organisation, so whilst I have no way to prove it, I could imagine that they could indeed ask for home leave, as did the nurses or any other branch of the army.

 

I realise that some questions will never be answered, but you have to ask :thumbsup:

 

Best wishes,

 

Michael.

 

 

 

hope this helps.

 

M.

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MERLINV12
Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Marilyne said:

 

hope this helps.

 

M.

 

Marilyne,

 

Thanks for the reply, I have been reading through all the War Diaries, but with her being a Worker, and with them not normally being mentioned by name, I am no nearer knowing for definite where she was, or if indeed she worked with boots.

 

On the subject of home leave, I probably didn't phrase the question properly, what I should have asked was. Would she have been entitled for routine home leave after just four months in France ? 

 

What I need is a draft list which includes shoemaker, or shoe worker, (similar to WO-95-84-8, page 35, although this fits with her arrival in France, it does not show any shoe workers), then that would narrow the possibilities.

 

Best wishes,

 

Michael.

Edited by MERLINV12

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FROGSMILE

I thought that all who contributed to this thread might enjoy the enclosed ditty, that had been published in a military hospital periodical late in the war.  It was sung to the tune of a well known folk tune.

 

04A8A124-5F5F-4B96-A2DB-E6CD77AD8C2E.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE

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