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United We Stand!

Bristol Women's Defence Relief Corps


Across the country, women volunteered to help in the war effort.


New branches of the armed services were set up and by the end of war 80,000 women were performing support roles such as nursing, driving and cooking.

A training hostel was opened in a hotel on Whiteladies Road in 1917 where 500 women learnt drill and received their uniforms.

Civilian organisations such as the Women’s Defence Relief Corps trained volunteers in first aid and signalling. Members helped as needed in offices, shops and on farms.

Along with Voluntary Aid Detachments and First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, the Women's Defence Relief Corps is one of three female auxiliary units to be formed in September 1914 by Lord Kitchener himself (founded by Mrs Dawson Scott) to encourage women to undertake any work which would free a man for the fighting line. In the Spring of 1915 the members started working on the land, and in 1916, 465 women were organised in squads for land work. The Corps specialised in getting farmers in touch with casual labour. All controversy about this ceases with the first zeppelin raids, for this is the age of ‘total war,’ wherein nations must turn their entire societies into engines of conflict — and spare neither mother nor child from either danger or responsibility.

The Women’s Land Army was formed in March 1917, and around 250,000 women nationally worked the land in 1918 to help alleviate food shortages. Many of these women had never worked before.