The W.A.A.C – Christmas Term 1917

I have been asked to give some account of my present work for the Godolphin Magazine, so I will do my best for the readers thereof, though I find it very difficult to give any idea of this sort of life on paper. People often say to me: “Now, what do you do?” and I generally answer that it would be more to the point to say What do you not do?” One has to be a dabbler in so many things in order to be ready to answer questions that crop up at every turn. At the moment I am Head of a Hostel at Saltley, Birmingham, where I have about 140 women at present. They have all joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, i.e. the Women’s Army which, releases the men to do the work which women cannot. They are substitutes for men in many capacities, clerks, cooks, waitresses, motor mechanics, aero­plane makers, &c., &c. This particular Hostel is a Depot or draft­ finding Hostel, i.e. the women are sent straight here to be uniformed and drilled-for a time, before being sent out to work in the various camps where they are urgently needed. The work is very interesting though very exacting, and quite different from anything one has ever done before. Who would have thought, five years ago, of women being obliged to make the acquaintance of Army ways and Army forms in all their variety and all their complexity? But this is only one side of the work.
Saltley is not a beautiful place. It is full of munition and other works. It is smoky, sunless, and treeless. It is foggy and cold. Nevertheless, we are too busy to think much about its lack of colour and cheerfulness. I have been here six weeks now and regretted greatly that we were obliged to leave our little camp at Sutton Veney, where we spent two happy months. We are homesick for it still. Perhaps it is a case of “the last ship.”
There are still a number of people who do not know what the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps is, and some who say rather foolish things about it in consequence. It has a very great many members already, but we want a great many more. Thousands of men are wanted still, and as long as they are asked for, women will be wanted to replace them. It is the biggest women’s movement ever organized. There is a demand particularly for girls who have been trained in Public Schools and know how to use their brains. They would be invaluable as clerks. If any of them are typists they are still more invaluable. It should never be thought that this movement is for one class of woman more than another. It is for all sorts and conditions, and here is a very practical way for all women to shew their patriotism.