In August 1914 a mere 640 women had a clearly defined wartime role. When the eminent surgeon, Dr Elsie Inglis, offered her professional services to the British Army a senior representative of the RAMC riposted, "Dear Lady, go home and sit still". Derived from her book We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World, this talk by Dr Viv Newman explores the roles of women who ignored this advice and used social position, professional skills and even sheer bloody-mindedness in order to get to the war zones and play their part. Ignoring the War Office advice to 'go home and sit still', by 1918 hundreds of thousands of women from all corners of the world had lent their individual wills and collective strength to the Allied cause. As well as becoming nurses, munitions workers, and members of the Land Army, women were also ambulance drivers and surgeons; they served with the Armed Forces; funded and managed their own hospitals within sight and sound of the guns. At least one British woman bore arms, and over a thousand women lost their lives as a direct result of their involvement with the war.
Viv Newman was awarded her PhD in 2004. In addition to writing about the different roles of women in the Great War, she also speaks widely on how women played their part both at the Front and on the Home Front.