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Uniform and Cap Badge ID


CL22
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Nance Richardson 1916.pdf

Grateful for any information on my Cousin Nance.  I cannot identify the badge or the uniform.  The photograph was taken by a photographer in Newcastle, the date might not be 1916.  I know that she visited my Great grandfather at the Canadian hospital in Calais for few days in 1916 but I don't know in what capacity.  With many thanks.

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1 hour ago, CL22 said:

Nance Richardson 1916.pdf 528.32 kB · 6 downloads

Grateful for any information on my Cousin Nance.  I cannot identify the badge or the uniform.  The photograph was taken by a photographer in Newcastle, the date might not be 1916.  I know that she visited my Great grandfather at the Canadian hospital in Calais for few days in 1916 but I don't know in what capacity.  With many thanks.

Hello. Welcome to the forum. I think that is the Navy Army Canteen Board cap badge she is wearing.... Gunner 87

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Edited by Gunner 87
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Thank you Gunner 87. I will follow up. Would she have needed a greatcoat for the canteen?  I thought she might have been a driver/chauffeur. Many thanks. 

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13 minutes ago, CL22 said:

Thank you Gunner 87. I will follow up. Would she have needed a greatcoat for the canteen?  I thought she might have been a driver/chauffeur. Many thanks. 

The IWM have a helpful few paragraphs on the history of the NACB, the forerunner to the NAAFI at https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30077018 just scroll down and open up 'show more'. 

Regarding the great coat, it would almost certainly be a valuable part of her uniform being deployed, not in the field, but a short distance behind in all weathers.

Edited by Gunner 87
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2 hours ago, CL22 said:

Thanks Gunner 87. Very helpful. 

There’s another thread that touches on the NACB, formed in 1917, here: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/287178-double-shoulder-insignia-help/#comment-2962070

It’s a cracking and rare photo, thank you for posting it.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks for this, very interesting.  I have found some smaller less clear photos that put her in 1916 in this uniform in the North East, so do you think there would there have been something that pre-dated the NACB? Thanks

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On 18/03/2022 at 10:32, CL22 said:

Thanks for this, very interesting.  I have found some smaller less clear photos that put her in 1916 in this uniform in the North East, so do you think there would there have been something that pre-dated the NACB? Thanks

There was the Expeditionary Force Canteen element of the Army Service Corps and it seems possible that before 1917 she might have been “attached” to that from the [edit] Womens Legion (WL), which was the overarching organisation for most of the women’s services apart from specialised areas like nursing.  Things became more demarcated from 1917 onward, with the newly formed Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) becoming Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1918, which by then attached women in a wide variety of support roles to various parts of the Army administrative effort, including the Royal Flying Corps (this latter becoming part of the RAF in April 1918).

The Women's effort was in effect an evolutionary process and it looks as if your cousin was an early contributor and member of the uniformed service.  The cap she wears in your photo was distinctly WL and then WAAC/QMAAC issue in certain forward area roles (drivers and motorcyclists, etc.).  It became so synonymous with RFC girls that it was later adopted as the first, standard pattern headdress for the new Women’s section of the RAF.

I’m thinking from her dress that she probably drove supply vehicles (lorries) for the canteens, or maybe was a canteen committee staff car driver.  The organisation was titled Army Canteen Committee until 1917, when it was joined by the Royal Navy and retitled Navy and Army Canteen Board, at which point the cap badge shown above (and worn by your cousin) was issued.

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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This quote is from  'Service to the Services -  The story of the NAAFI' by Harry Miller, Chapter 1 entitled 'Before NAAFI' and covering the Great War period.

'The waitresses were WAACs, members of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps, seven hundred of whom were in the EFC service'

Dave

Edited by HERITAGE PLUS
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5 hours ago, HERITAGE PLUS said:

This quote is from  'Service to the Services -  The story of the NAAFI' by Harry Miller, Chapter 1 entitled 'Before NAAFI' and covering the Great War period.

'The waitresses are WAACs, members of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps, seven hundred of whom were in the EFC service'

Dave

Thanks Dave, this is all quite intriguing.  The WAAC only began recruiting in March 1917, having its first controller appointed in July that year by the Adjutant General.  It wasn’t until the following year that it received the honorific prefix from Queen Mary.  This begs the question as to whether the lady this thread refers to did serve in 1916, and if so what organisation she belonged to.  If she did, my guess would be that it was probably the Women’s Legion, who had agitated for women to be given meaningful war work in uniform in order to release more men for operations.  The Women's Legion was a British charitable organisation created in 1915 by Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart.  “It comprised volunteers who wore military-style uniforms and took on various duties within agriculture, canteen, cookery and motor transport sections. More than 40,000 women joined its forces.“

It’s rival but smaller organisation, the Women's Volunteer Reserve (WVR) was more overtly militaristic [with Army style structural and rank titles] and less readily socially accepted before gradually fading into obscurity, but it too provided canteen workers and cooks for Army camps throughout 1915.

NB.  Apparently many in the Women's Legion went on to join the WAAC when it was formed and in some cases entire categories of employment were wholly absorbed at a stroke.

Afternote: “In August 1915 Lady Londonderry helped establish the Women's Legion to cook for the Army. Based in Dartford, it provided cooks, waitresses and gardeners and from 1916, motor transport drivers. The latter chiefly served with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Although it was not formally under Government control, or part of the Army, in the spirit of the times its members adopted a military-style organisation and uniform (but unlike the WVR neither terminology, nor ranks, which remained more like civilian factories).  In February 1917 all 7000 Women's Legion cooks and waitresses were transferred into the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.”

The following is courtesy of a 2009 posting by forum member - royalredcross that mentions the Womens Legion Military Cookery Section:

”The Military Cookery section has the distinction of being the first body of women, apart from nurses, to be employed with the British Army. It was formed on 22 July 1915 and, in the same month, a party of 20 cooks was despatched to Dartford Camp Convalescent Hospital. Parties for Eastbourne and Epsom camps soon followed and by the beginning of 1916, there were 120 cooks in place. The whole organisation was run from headquarters in the Duke of York’s at Chelsea by the Secretary, Mrs. Long. Lists of volunteers were kept and cooks and waitresses despatched as demanded by various units who engaged them through Labour Exchanges as civilian employees. The first Commandant was Miss Lilian Barker, who later went on to be Lady Superintendent of the munitions workers at Woolwich Arsenal. She was followed by Mrs. Burleigh Leach who later became head of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). 

The service expanded, not only to convalescent camps but to command depots and other units, their conditions of service being officially laid down in Army Council Instruction (ACI) 2034 of 1916. In January 1917 the Army Council appealed for 1000 women to enrol in the WL as cooks and waitresses. Some 26,000 replies were received. This success was such that the War Office decided to extend the service to France and to take complete control of the workforce. Thus, the Military Cookery Section of the WL ceased to exist on September 1917 when all 6,000 cooks and waitresses in the United Kingdom were absorbed into the newly formed WAAC. They eventually adopted WAAC uniform but were permitted wear their old WL badge on their lapel.”

See also: https://www.gale.com/binaries/content/assets/au-resources-in-product/wwsessay_noakes_womens.pdf

NB.  The photo of a car with a male driver below shows a Navy and Army Canteen Committee staff car driver.

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thank you all for your help.  The Expeditionary Force Canteen does seem the most likely and the cap making her a driver.  I will try and find out more!  Thanks again.

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6 hours ago, CL22 said:

Thank you all for your help.  The Expeditionary Force Canteen does seem the most likely and the cap making her a driver.  I will try and find out more!  Thanks again.

It would be interesting to see the earlier photos of her that you mentioned, if you can post them. 
 I personally think that she was almost certainly a driver, the cap and the heavy coat with its shearling collar are typical dress for those driving open cabbed vehicles, many of which were lorries.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Sorry, I've tried to do the photos but no success, too faded and overexposed!  I think you are right about the coat too.  I will do some more digging.  Thanks.

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39 minutes ago, CL22 said:

Sorry, I've tried to do the photos but no success, too faded and overexposed!  I think you are right about the coat too.  I will do some more digging.  Thanks.

Thank you for trying, I do understand that some old photos can be of insufficient quality to post with any clarity.

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