Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Above is Royal Naval Air Station Tresco, the Scillies air base from which flying-boats and seaplanes hunted German U-boat submarines. By the main hangar, the station's personnel line up for their group photograph. The date is summer 1918. To the right, just out of shot, is the flying-boat slipway down to the beach. The slip's still there today.

Unusually, the photo shows the women who served at the station.

In the front rank we can make out members of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and Women's Royal Naval Service. Their duties included clerical, domestic and catering tasks but as the war continued they became more involved with so-called 'men's jobs'. Some WRNS staff were trained to service the Navy’s aircraft; their vital work helped keep the aeroplanes fit for patrols over the Channel and Western Approaches.

It seems comparatively little photographic evidence survives of Cornish women’s work in the First World War. Over the next few days I’ll be exploring this area.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon:

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