A maintenance Wren screwing down caps of the oil pump of an MTB engine.
© IWM (A 12196)

Jane Clarke began an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award provisionally entitled ‘A review of the impact of women’s military or wartime service in the aftermath of the First World War’ in October 2016. A partnership between the IWM and the University of Manchester, her project will explore the long-term impact that working for the British war effort during the First World had on the women involved. Her research will utilize the extensive collection of journals of former servicewomen, started by the Old Comrades Associations of the women’s auxiliary services in 1920 and 1921, to track the ways in which women’s wartime experience was constructed and reconstructed after demobilization in 1918. The project will focus primarily on the complex ways in which wartime service in the women’s auxiliary forces impacted on the self-identities of many former servicewomen, as they sought to protect and nurture the strong sense of comradeship and friendship which for many defined their wartime experience. Taking a thematic approach, the thesis will illuminate the connections between women’s claim to a distinct identity as servicewomen and their involvement in contemporary, often explicitly ‘gendered’ issues such as employment, overseas emigration and local, national and international politics.