Hello everyone! Today I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of When I Was Yours by the very talented Lizzie Page. So Grab a cuppa and settle down, as you don’t want to miss out on this great book.
We stand at the back of the hall as the children troop in. Big ones, little ones. Straggly hair, cropped hair, curls…the adults surge forward to choose and soon there is just one child left, a little girl sitting on the floor. She is thin as a string bean and her sleeve is ragged and damp – like she’s been chewing it.
1939. War has broken out – hundreds of children are evacuated to the countryside to keep them safe from the bombs raining down on the cities. Wrenched from her family in the East End and sent more than a hundred miles away, seven-year-old Pearl Posner must adapt to a new life away from everything familiar.
Vivienne didn’t ask for an evacuee child. In fact, she’s not sure her heart can take it. So many years, so many disappointments… Vivi’s ability to feel love left her the day she learned the truth about her husband Edmund, and when she made the worst decision of her life and left her cherished sister to her fate. But like it or not, Pearl is here to stay, and what with the rumours about what’s happening to children in mainland Europe, it might be the last safe place for her.
As Pearl and Vivi learn how to live together, they discover that they have a connection that runs more deeply than they could ever have guessed – from before Pearl was born, and deep into Vivienne’s past. And will it be Pearl – the little girl who says so little and sees so much – who forces Vivi to finally confront what happened in her marriage… and to the long-lost sister she loved so dearly and let fall so far, just when she needed Vivi most?
Lizzie Page has gone and done it again with this beautiful, poignant and immensely emotional story that spans across two world wars. I have been a fan Of Ms Pages work for a while now, her grasp of this particular era is amazing, she really draws you into the past with her eloquent and sensitive writing. She is by far one of my favourite authors, and this is a brilliant addition to her rapidly growing CV.
What I particularly loved about this is the cleverly written duel time line, set in both wars. We see the lead character Vivienne make her way through WW1 as a young woman and then into WW2. I love each part of the Vivi’s story but I was particular taken with her years in WW1 – but that’s not because those parts of the story written any differently, every part of the book is just as great as the next, It’s just I have a soft spot for that era and I’m fascinated with the roles women took at the time.
In 1914 and very young Vivienne and her sister Olive want to do something for the war effort, so they start working as ambulance drivers – it is this aspect of the story which really caught my attention, it is both historically detailed so much so that you can see every scene with absolute clarity, and it is also hugely emotional to read. Vivi has fallen in love with her cousin’s best friend; Edmund, and becomes engaged to him. Then she suddenly she meets charismatic pilot Sam, that does capture Vivi’s attention but she is a good, loyal women she has made a promise to him and she won’t go back on it no matter what she feels for Sam.
In 1939, Vivi and Edmund are not quite so happily married, they are living separate lives, there are various factors into why they aren’t living in happily married bliss which I really won’t go into – no spoilers here – and on top of that they never did have children of their own, which you can really sense that is a tough subject for Vivi, but her unhappiness comes from more than that. Personally speaking, I think that Vivi marrying Edmund was the worse decision of her live and that has really ingrained itself on her.
Anyway they have been informed that she will be having an evacuee staying with them. Edmund doesn’t want a child in the house, especially someone else’s and like so many others he believes that this won’t come to anything that there will be no war. Vivi is both fearful and nervous about the prospect of having a child in the house, she doesn’t even know how to look after one. But she must soon learn, and once she meets her evacuee; a little girl named Pearl, she learns far more than to look after children she learns to love again and to open her heart which has been closed off for so long.
The relationship that blossoms between Vivi and Pearl is really something, looking after this sweet, quiet little girl gives Vivi something that has never thought to have; hope, a sense of being wanted and needed, a purpose, friendship and love, all things that she thought was lost to her so long ago and when she realises that there is more to this little girl, that there is a link between them really touches the reader and Vivi.
I absolutely love how this is written, Lizzie you have blown me away with your beautiful words, wonderful imagination and emotional story. I love how it tells us what happened to Vivi and her sister Olive during WW1 and then we move forward to see how Vivi is faring in 1939, the leaps from one era to the other is perfectly written, I found that there was no confusion of where you are in the story and each era seamlessly flows into one.
It is a lovingly written story that has real heart, and one that I cannot recommend enough. The story flows with so much ease, but it is the character’s especially Vivi which really steals the reader’s attention, she is a marvelous woman, her journey through live is one that many can relate to.
This was an Arc copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
When I was Yours is available now and can be found at Amazon.
To give them hope she must tell their story
The war is over. Juliet Ashton is grappling with writers block when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – a total stranger living halfway across the channel. Who has come across her name written in a second-hand book.
Juliet begins writing to Dawsey , and the time to everyone in the extraordinary Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society. The society tell Juliet about life on the island – and the dark years spent under the shadow of German occupation. Drawn into their irresistible world, Juliet sets sail for Guernsey, changing her life – and theirs – forever
I have been reading so many good thing about this book for such a long time, and then when it was made into a film, I knew that I had to read this book, before I saw the film as it had been on my to-read list for way too long. I can honestly say that yeas, I should have read it far, far earlier then I did, but it was well worth the wait. This book really is extraordinary, there is no other words to describe just how powerful a read this book is. With it’s very simple story of one writer and a group of people all starting the process of trying to move on after years of war, they find themselves finding a new beginning just on the horizon, but they need each other to take those tentative steps.
During the war Juliet Ashton had been writing a column under the name Lizzy Bickerstaff which brought people together and gave the country some light-hearted fun to get behind and enjoy. Now the war is over, Juliet has found herself stuck in a bit of a rut she has got terrible writers block. Then she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams; a complete stranger from Guernsey which starts of what will be a beautiful friendship. Dawsey came across her name in a book, he tells her about his book club; the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society from that one letter she begins corresponding not just with Dawsey but the other members of the society, they tell her about life under German occupation and how they suffered ad survived the war.
Juliet soon becomes engrossed in their world, in their stories and soon finds inspiration has struck and suddenly she finds herself on Guernsey, meeting the very people who have brought life back into her boring, dreary life. This trip to Guernsey is a trip that will change her life forever and that of the society members too.
The central storyline regarding Juliet and her love life is pretty is to ascertain where the story is going and who she will end up with. For me it was the bigger picture the story around the Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society and it’s members that captured my attention, I can guarantee that anyone reading this will go through so many emotions. What really stuck with me after reading this book, is the overwhelming warmth that fills you after reading it, it leaves it’s mark on the reader – well it has one me, far more then any book ever has.
This has got to be one of the best books I have read, it is a truly beautiful and heart-warming book. There isn’t a moment, a page or a word that I don’t like about it, the characters are all extremely well researched, lovable and they will make you laugh and cry in equal amounts.
A magical book that everyone should read!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is available at Amazon.
The land girl and the US officer
Dear diary, despite the war raging around me, I find I can’t stop thinking about the American officer, Sergeant Dale Johnson. I’ve never known anyone as brave, kind and handsome! But I promised myself I wouldn’t care this much about a man again, especially when he could be transferred at any time. Yet that only makes me want to relish our time together. Now fighting my heart feels like the biggest battle…
One word sums this book up for me; Magnificent! This is an incredible book, I have had my eye on this one as soon as I saw the cover – yes, I did base my wanting to read it on the cover first, but only because I have a real soft spot for this era and then when I read the blurb, I was completely hooked. I love war time romances and I was jumping around like a bit of a hyperactive two years old when I got offered the chance to read this one and I can honestly say that this fully lives up to all the hype, it is fabulous!
Kathryn is an evacuee, she was sent away from the city by her a powerful man in the British army/government she is sent to live wit Norman and Charlotte in the country, where she helps on their farm and looks after the other evacuee children. All is fine until the American’s move in, swanning around like they own the place. Kathryn has definitely got a chip on her shoulder when it comes to the GI’s she, her frosty and hostile attitude towards them makes me think of that old saying what used to be said and what is in a lot of war time films “Over paid, over sexed and over here.” And when she meets engineer Dale her animosity blows up at him, poor gorgeous Dale he becomes the one who she lashes her fury and irritation out on, unfairly if you ask me.
I think that Kathryn is a little harsh on Dale to start with, she has an ingrained prejudice towards American’s and she treats very unfairly when all he wants to do is get to know her. He is an American in a stranger country, and yes I will say that Britain in the war was strange, it takes awhile for Dale and his comrades to adjust to out….shall I say slightly eccentric British-ness? But he charm’s her out of her old way of thinking and soon she has fallen head over heels for him. Come on how could she not? Dale is a stud!
What a wonderful character he is, he can relate to the humble farmer’s and how they are fighting and toiling to feed their own. Back in the USA he is one of those very farmer’s he knows hard work and isn’t afraid of it, he does every job with the same gusto and precision as he would while back on his farm. He has a kind and generous heart that makes you cry and laugh, and a charm that can woo any bird from the tree’s.
As I was reading this it made me think of that episode of Foyles War when Hastings is, as the locals say being ‘invaded’ by American’s This has that same charm and wit about it that, it is comforting as well as exciting. I was gripped by it, while reading it you go through so many emotion’s as you are plunged into that dangerous time where life is so uncertain. Ms Robinson has done an astounding job at bringing to life the real emotion of the time, with absolute clarity. I particularly love that each chapter starts off with a page from Kathryn’s diary, her thoughts, feelings, happiness and fears are all there you the reader to bare witness to what is going on. I love that touch, it is like dipping into her life through those secretive word’s and it connects you to her and makes you care about her that much more – if that was possible!
This is the first book I have read by Lauri Robinson and what an introduction into this author’s work, and I will definitely be reading more from this talented author. She has captured the readers attention with her way with words and her knowledge of the era. I got a real sense of how much this story meant to Ms Robinson, every page has feels very personal. I do like historicals that have accurate details in them which brings the story to life, and this is wonderfully detailed.
This is astounding! I am so pleased that more people are reading this era as it is fraught with absolute love and danger and this is right up there with the best war romances I have read. For those that have read and love the likes of Pam Jenoff then this is the book to read, it is fabulous and one of the best of the year. I cannot recommend this enough!
This was a complimentary copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
The War Bride is available now and can be purchased from Amazon.
Today I have the very great pleasure to welcome Historical Fiction author; Joy Rhoades to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive chat and to share my review of her beautiful debut novel; the Woolgrowers Companion.
I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of history, and a great and gentle teller of stories. My childhood gave me two passions: a love of the Australian landscape and a fascination with words and stories.
I left the bush at 13 when I went to boarding school in Brisbane. I stayed on there to study law and literature at the University of Queensland. After, my work as a lawyer took me first to Sydney and then all over the world, to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. But I always carried in my head a strong sense of my childhood: the people, the history, the light and the landscape. Those images have never left me and they would eventually become The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s a story I’ve felt I had to tell.
I currently live in London with my husband and our two young children. But I miss the Australian sky.
Frankie Hi Joy, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.
Firstly what five word’s would you use to describe yourself?
Joy I guess I’m curious and tenacious. And kind, I hope. I try to be.
Frankie If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?
Joy If I could time travel, I’d like to go with aviation pioneer from the ‘30s, Amelia Earhart. To meet her and find out what happened to her. I have always wanted to learn to fly, and she was such a woman of firsts. Inspiring and tragic. I’m fascinated like many, as to what really happened to her in the end.
Joy The Woolgrower’s Companion is historical fiction, set in Australia in 1945 on a remote sheep station. It’s the story of a young woman’s fight to save her father’s farm, when he becomes ill. Kate Dowd, the hero, is somewhat newly married but her remote husband is away fighting in the war. When Kate’s father accepts two Italian prisoners of war to work, unguarded, on their sheep property, Kate must fight to protect herself and Daisy, her 14-year-old domestic, a product of the Aboriginal Domestic Training Home. Kate’s is a story of struggle but essentially a story of hope and of love.
Frankie Love it!! Who was your childhood hero?
Joy I really admired Amelia Earhart. I have always wanted to learn to fly so she had it all. A pioneer, an explorer, a woman. Unfortunate end, of course, but it seemed worth it.
Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead character’s?
Joy It’s funny but a lot of readers have told me how cinematic they find The Woolgrower’s Companion. A mate suggested Margot Robbie for Kate, perhaps? She’s from a small town not far from where I was born, so she’ll understand landscape. Luca? I asked my followers on social media and from the nominations, one name stood one: Aldo Mignone. And he looks just perfect for it.
Frankie Oooh, very nice! 😊 Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?
Joy I like Kate, the main character in The Woolgrower’s Companion. She grows a lot through the books, makes mistakes, learns sometimes, not always. But she ‘banks’ her learning so se feels stronger over time. I hope she’s inspiring.
Frankie Where doe’s your inspiration for your books come from?
Joy The Woolgrower’s Companion is based very loosely on family stories, especially from my grandmother Gladys Wyndham Mueller-Chateau. She lived almost all of her 102 years on a sheep place in northern New South Wales. She was very like so many bush women: resilient, funny and very proper 😊
Frankie Wow, that is incredible! What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?
Joy See writing as an end, a craft that you work at all your life, whether to be at the top of the NYT best seller list (I wish 😉) or just for yourself. But keep at it, working to hone your skills and take pride in that work. There’ll be such reward that comes within from just writing well. Anything else that a writer manages? Like getting a short story published or even getting a publishing deal? Clover.
Frankie Those are brilliant, Thank you! If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)
Joy Wow. Where to start. The Australian poet and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal (formerly Kath Walker). And another Australian poet Judith Wright (she’s a distant relative of mine, which fact I love, hoping a drop, just one drop, of her outsize talent might have Australian-crawled its way through the gene pool to me :/) Tim Winton would have to be there, of course. We’d all talk writing and landscape, words and land.
Frankie Thank you, Joy for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?
Joy I love ice-cream. I’m torn between pistachio ice-crema and salted caramel. It’s close, but I think salted caramel wins 😊
Oh, yummy! 😉
Thank you Joy!
About the Book
Kate Dowd’s mother raised her to be a lady but she must put away her white gloves and pearls to help save her family’s sheep farm in New South Wales.
It is 1945, the war drags bitterly on and it feels like the rains will never come again. All the local, able-bodied young men, including the husband Kate barely knows, have enlisted and Kate’s father is struggling with his debts and his wounds from the Great War. He borrows recklessly from the bank and enlists two Italian prisoners of war to live and work on the station.
With their own scars and their defiance, the POWs Luca and Vittorio offer an apparent threat to Kate and Daisy, the family’s young Aboriginal maid. But danger comes from surprising corners and Kate finds herself more drawn to Luca than afraid of him.
Scorned bank managers, snobbish neighbours and distant husbands expect Kate to fail and give up her home but over the course of a dry, desperate year she finds within herself reserves of strength and rebellion that she could never have expected.
The Woolgrower’s Companion is the gripping story of one woman’s fight to save her home and a passionate tribute to Australia’s landscape and its people.
Joy’s debut book The Woolgrowers Companion is to be released on 28th June and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.
Well, what can I say about this book, other than; It is incredibly moving and astoundingly good. Really, this book is really too good for words! The Woolgrowers Companion is Ms Rhoades debut and, my goodness what an introduction, this highly talented author is going to go very far in the world of historical fiction. I love the fact that ‘The Woolgrowers Companion’ is based on the real-life story of one of the author’s ancestors, and at the start of each chapter is a little quote from The Wool Growers Companion which fits in beautifully with the way the story and chapter is going. This is an astonishing, emotionally raw and beautifully written book which handles some very difficult subjects, but Ms Rhoades has covered them with the upmost care.
Set during 1945 in North South Wales, Australia where a young woman, Kate Dowd who has always been brought up to be a proper lady by her later mother has had to cast aside her lady-like gloves and behavior to help on her family farm; Amiens along with her increasing worrisome father; who built up the farm from scratch at the end of WW1. With the war nearing an end, the area is dry with drought and lack of able-bodied men, all gone due to the war which including her husband of six months; Jack. Amiens is the recipient of two Italian POW’s; Luca and Vittorio her father is very grateful for the help and so is Kate that is until she is given one of them to help her in the kitchen garden.
She becomes increasingly drawn to handsome and gentlemanly Luca, he isn’t at all what she expected when they had agreed to take on two POW’s. He is polite, hardworking and kind she knows she shouldn’t take an interest in Luca and he knows that fraternizing with the local girls is punishable with imprisonment and, yet there is a spark between them. To add to Kate’s worries her father has been borrowing money that they can’t possibly pay back, and the horrible bank manager is on the war path to take Amiens from them.
I love the fact that this is predominantly written through Kate’s point of view, she is a very real young woman, that you can relate to instantly. She goes through so many emotions that you share with her as the story goes along; from confusion over her startling feelings for Luca, surprise and anger at what her father has done and sadness that her husband Jack is so far away and that they are on the verge of losing everything her family have worked so hard for.
I will admit that even though I have read a lot of post war novels, this is the first time I have read one set in this setting. In my ignorance, I hadn’t known how the war affected those from Australia or even that Italian POW’s were sent to work on Australian farm’s. The ‘Woolgrowers Companion’ is an eye-opening and thought-provoking story that captures the reader’s imagination and invokes a thirst to learn more.
This book is simply stunning! Ms Rhoades has a rare gift for story-telling, she entices and enthrall’s with her articulate writing and rich, atmospheric detail that transports you from your armchair to 1945 Australia. Her attention to detail is min-blowing, the plot and characters are perfect, the story moves forward in a very natural and at times surprising way, each scene is full of historic details and mood of the times and characters. Rhoades has created a beautiful story that I can guarantee will stay with you long after you close the last page.
There are some very harsh and brutal moments such as racism, bigotry, PTSD and early stages Dementia which, Rhoades deals with it all in a respectful and honest and in a way that leaves a real sense of what these characters are going through. The authors genuine love of the story and her extensive research is evident on every page.
This really is something special, it is a fascinating and moving portrayal of the time from a new author whose career I am looking forward to reading more from.
Magical and beautiful.
This was an ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Woolgrowers Companion is to be released 28th June and can be purchased from Amazon.
While the bells of a Royal Wedding peel out to the fading echoes of war, danger stalks the coastline of Wales…
Injured and terrified after an attempted abduction, desperation drives artist Kate Ward to the idyllic scene of her ex-husband’s recent suicide. Labelled a hysterical, grieving divorcée, no one believes she is being pursued by two violent men demanding answers she cannot give. Not the police, not the doctors, and not the guests at the Aberystwyth hotel she has come to in an attempt to find out what happened to her charismatic photographer ex-husband, and why her identity – and her life – are now at risk.
Kate can trust no one, not even the reclusive war-veteran-turned-crime-novelist, Adam Hitchen, a reserved widower and the only source of kindness in a shadowy world of suspicion and fear. And as ghosts old and new rise to haunt her, Kate must rely on all her strength and courage to uncover the shocking truth hidden within a twisted web of lies…
Well, what can I say about this? What a corker!! It really is an incredible read, this is the first book I have read by Lorna Gray and it definitely will not be the last. I will admit that I am a fan of war era romances and I have read a lot of them but there is something very special about this book. This book is right up there with the best I have read right alongside the likes of Pam Jenoff and Kate Mosse.
Set just after the war in 1947, After Kate Ward’s ex-husband committed suicide she found herself being nearly kidnapped, injured and then followed by two unknown thug’s who are wanting answers to questions that she doesn’t know, she doesn’t understand the questions or why these people would be after her. She flees her home in Lancaster to Wales where she stays in the Aberystwyth Hotel, in the very same area where her ex-husband had spent the last of his days. She hopes that she can try to figure out what is going on and why she is being followed, but those answers aren’t coming as she thought as she finds herself under the gaze of the other hotel guest’s who see her as an unhinged, paranoid and grieving woman who by all accounts could be suffering from her own mental break down.
No one believes that she is in as much danger as she states, she is fearful and alone with terrifying events that even start clouded her own judgment. She can’t trust no one and yet she can’t seem to find the answers she needs. She eventually finds an ally in the form of elusive veteran come crime writer Adam Hitchman who is in Aberystwyth doing research.
Along with Adam, Kate takes off a journey to find the truth and discover why her life is in danger and who is behind it, along the way they keep bumping into the mysterious Jim Bristol who keep’s turning up along the way. But is he more than he appears to be? As they become embroiled in a dark and dangerous, life or death game of cat and mouse, Kate and Adam become closer until a romance develops between this unlikely couple.
This is written I first person you see the story unfold though Kate’s eyes, you feel her troubles her fears her few joys and this creates a connection to her that you very rarely get in other books. I know a lot of readers don’t like first person books, but this is a must read it is stunningly beautiful book, it really is too good to be true. Ms Gray has done an astounding job at conveying Kate’s circumstances and her fragile frame of mind, her confusion, unease and fear is palpable from that first page. Kate has a complexity and honest vulnerability about her that is engaging to the reader, even when there is lightness like when she is reading Jane Eyre in the hotel there is raw edginess to her that draws you in.
I am known for my love of historic details in stories and this is spot on, the vividness and description of Aberystwyth is incredible. Gray takes hold of your senses and imagination from that first page and keeps hold of you right to the end. There is a real feeling of the life and time throughout the book the peace from the end of the war, the relief that it is over as well as the unknown. I like how Gray has added those little touches that bring this book to life, such as bringing to attention that the UK were still on ration books until the mid-fifties. I love that!
The War Widow smoothly takes you on a journey that has more twists and turns then being in a maze, it is beautifully written with a plot that will make your mind boggle and you find yourself stumped for words at what is going on. It’s a roller coaster ride through a dangerous and complicated time, where all is not quite what it seems. I absolutely loved it, it is a page turning, compelling and intricately crafted perfect piece of thrilling fiction which has a wonderful and understated romance tucked away between the pages.
It is a timeless and thought-provoking story that gripped you from the onset and doesn’t let you go, with characters are intriguing and strong each one is precise and consistent stories of their own that runs throughout to keep you engaged.
This was a complimentary copy via the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The War Widow is available now and can be purchased at Amazon.
During both World Wars, women had to take over what was then classed as “Men’s Work”, even today certain parts of the work place is designated to men because the work is “far too dangerous, far too hard and far too dirty” to let women do it, and even when we do go into those areas of work, women are more often frowned upon, or not welcomed. As a woman who has been in various area’s of work, I have done all sort’s but yet at those times when I have worked in a primarily male environment I have been made to feel very out-of-place, or being the only woman on site, I have either been leered at or treated with kids gloves. After all these years of proving that we can do anything a man can do we, women are still delegated to looking pretty and making tea. This is why International Women’s Day is so important, we have celebrate just how brilliant we, women are and we have to remember all those amazing women before us that did just what men thought they couldn’t.
Today I am talking about the amazing women, who – during both wars – went into the mans world and they did a damn good job. My main focus today is about the those incredible women who went into what was by far one of the hardest and dangerous industries; The steelworks! Now my dad was a steel worker and I have seen what it did to him, the scars from where he was injured, the damaged hearing and other seen and unseen scar’s that all steelworkers carry with them. For me, this particular ‘A Little history ‘ post is very personal and one that I have been wanting to post for a long time.
During WW2, with all our men gone to fight the world-famous Sheffield Steelworks had to keep going, in fact it was critical for the war effort that it keep open, due to the fact that the Steelworks were making the very ammunition that our soldiers needed. But all the men were gone, who would man the Steelworks? There was only one for it. Women!
Sheffield women donned their overalls and walked in to that factory with their heads held high and they did the job. Like in every other Steelworks around the country, the women took over and they ruled. Usually when we think of heroes from WW2 we think of the Land Army Girls, The Wrens and the front line Nurse’s, but this band of extraordinary women slaved away, day in and day out in Sheffield’s Steelwork, it was highly dangerous work but highly important work, without them who knows what would have happened – the war could have ended very differently.
The work they were doing was so far removed from what they would have been used to, most were pulled from their own jobs in Retail and Hospitality while the majority of the women were housewives. It is said that they got very little training, if any at all and most this would have been their first ever taste of work. Can you imagine how that would have been? Being forced from what you know into that hot, dangerous and intimidating factory, where one false move could very well end your death, if your lucky you get basic training. In constant fear of the burners over heating and there being an explosion, of getting burnt daily. Then there are the long-term injuries such as back problems, hearing loss, eye sight problems. Shoulders, knees and hand problems where they would have been burnt and strained and in some cases psychological problems after experiencing accidents.
The work was hard, typical daily tasks would have included picking up the steel at one end while a colleague had held of the other end, they would then have to put the steel into the heat and hammer it. Another daily task was climbing 20ft ladders to use forklifts, so it was no good complaining about being scarred of heights, you just had to get on with it, and grin and bear it. The days long with only perhaps Sunday free, it was hard manual labour, if all that was bad enough then there was the ‘Canary Girls’ who worked with the chemicals inside the ammunition. Their skin would turn yellow because of being in constant exposure of chemicals, they would get ill and they were in constant fear that the chemicals they were handling daily could explode.
What is incredible though is that once the war was over and the men returned, they walked straight into the Steelworks, told the woman to go back to their own lives without so much as a Thanks or Well done. These women had gone above and beyond to keep the factory running and to keep those very men in ammunition and that was the thanks that they got. Go back home!
The men may not have given these incredible women the respect and recognition that they deserved but we do. In Sheffield City Centre there is the proud and iconic Steel Statue, that is quite fitting called; The Women of Steel, which is in tribute to those inspirational women who did so much for us.
If you want to learn more about The Women of Steel then follow the Link http://www.sheffieldnewsroom.co.uk/tag/women-of-steel/
Below is just a few of the many ways that women were taking on so-called men’s work during WW2.
In early 1941, the Government Minister for Labour declared that ‘One million wives were wanted for war work” December 1941 the National Service Act was passed in Parliament, which included that all unmarried women aged 20 -30 were to be conscripted for war work, (The age was extended later to 19 -43). They had to either join the Armed Forces, work in a factory or work the land with the Woman’s Land Army
ATS : The Auxiliary Territorial Service.
The ATS was a branch of the British Army during WW2, all women between 17 and 43 could join, although they were barred from serving in battle. They took on the roles such as cooks, storekeepers, orderlies, drivers and postal workers. Later in the war as there was becoming a shortage in men, the women in the ATS became radar operators and anti-aircraft gun crew members.
WRNS : The Women’s Royal Navy Service.
At the beginning of the war, the women’s branch of the Royal Navy was seen as a way of freeing men who were in non-combatant roles, such as cooking and driving to fight. “Join the Wrens’ today and free a man to join the fleet.” Which is what a recruitment poster urged women to do. The Wrens’ went on to do very important and varied work such as code-breaking at Bletchley Park and operating radar equipment.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!
It has been a while since I wrote a post for my “A Little History” series and for its return I thought I would share with you some of my heroines in history. Unfortunately I can’t list all of the brilliant women in history that I have looked up to over the years, my post would go on for days if I did. So I have chosen these five women who were so very different and yet so incredible in their own right. These five women were strong and independent and courageous.
I don’t know if anyone knows about Grace but she was a brave and brilliant young woman in the Victorian era. Grace lived with her father in a lighthouse on the Farne Isles, off the Northumberland coast when in Autumn 1838 she spotted the ship wreck of the SS Forfarshire on the rocks on a nearby Island, while looking out of her bedroom window. She and her father determined that the rough sea was too harsh for the life boat so together her and her father got in their own little row-boat and set off towards the wreck. Grace and her father rescued 13 people and then made their way back to the safety of their lighthouse home.
Grace was after that inundated with gifts and accolades because the bravery she showed on that day, I can’t even think how much courage it must have taken to step into that tiny row-boat and row out on to that turbulent sea.
Grace later became ill and in October 1842 she died at the tender age of 26 from Turberculosis, Grace was an ordinary young woman who selflessly put her own life on the line to rescue other’s and because of her bravery she changed how women were perceived in that era.
Flora Sandes was the only British woman to serve as a soldier on the frontline and in the trenches during WWI, but she didn’t just serve as just a regular soldier she worked her way through the ranks to become a Sergeant Major. The story of how Flora managed to get there is just as incredible, she was a St Johns Ambulance volunteer , she shot a man in self-defense and went to Serbia to serve as a nurse. Once in Serbia she was separated from her colleagues and she did the only thing she could to survive and that was to join the Serbian army as a soldier.
The fact that she was a 40-year-old British women and the daughter of a clergyman didn’t mean a thing, she fought side by side with the men – The Serbian army accepted women at that point – and she fought so well that she was quickly promoted. Flora was injured by a grenade which put an end to her military career but the Serbian Military honoured her with their highest award – the Order of the Karadordes Star for her bravery.
Violette was by far one of the bravest women in British history, she was an incredible woman. Violette was half French and half English, in 1940 she married a French officer who died in battle the same year, following his death Violette wanted a bit of excitement and adventure she joined the FRench Section of the Special Operations Executive or SOE and worked as a Secret Agent in occupied France.
It was on one of her missions that she was captured and taken tp Ravensbruck concentration camp, where after months of interrogations and she refused to speak, she and two of her SOE colleagues were executed.
In 1946 Violette Szarbo was the first British woman to be posthumously awarded the George Cross, the medal was pinned to the chest of her daughter Tania who was wearing a dress her mother had bought her on one of her missions to Paris. There is a brilliant film about her called “Carve Her name With Pride” which stars the amazing Virginia Mckenna.
Emily was an absolute hero of mine when I was growing up, Wuthering Heights is just about the best piece of literature there is, I just loved how raw and real it is. How she captured how powerful and moving the moors and it’s inhabitants can be.
From all accounts about Emily she was a shy, home-loving recluse who loved nothing better than wandering around the moors, happy in her own little world and on her own. She is often refered to as intensely creative and passionate, a free spirit and an iconic tortured genius. and going by the brilliance that Wuthering Heights is, I thing k I would agree. She was strong in her own way, by all accounts she didn’t want the whole husband and family thing, she was more than happy in caring for her family and doing what she wanted when she wanted and I really admire that.
“She should have been a man – a great navigator. Her powerful reason would have deduced new spheres of discovery from the knowledge of the old; and her strong imperious will would never have been daunted by opposition or difficulty, never have given way but with life. She had a head for logic, and a capability of argument unusual in a man and rarer indeed in a woman… impairing this gift was her stubborn tenacity of will which rendered her obtuse to all reasoning where her own wishes, or her own sense of right, was concerned” Quoted by Constantin Hegar
Queen Elizabeth 1
It may be an obvious one but I do like how strong and resilient Elizabeth was, she was an incredible woman who was living and ruling in a mans world she was under constant prejudice because of her sex and under constant pressure from her advisors telling her that she needed a husband to succeed in their world. I admire her for her stiff upper lip and fact that, yes she was a woman in a powerful position but she didn’t cave in under the pressure and she protected her people and her country when they needed her the most.
Most men in that position would have crumbled with all the back stabbing and underhand goings on that circulated the court, but not Elizabeth, she proved that a woman can survive a man’s world. All my heroines have that same courage and passion and each one of them have gone out into a mans world and made it her own, they have proved that we women don’t need knights in shining armour to ride in and save the day. . .We can save our selves.
If you want to know more about my heroines then check out the links below.