Stories of women during the First World War

British First Aid Nursing Yeomanry ambulance drivers

British First Aid Nursing Yeomanry ambulance drivers, Image © IWM (Q 003257)

The First World War brought significant changes to the lives of women in Britain and the Commonwealth. To coincide with International Women’s Day this Saturday, we’ll be blogging several life stories of women who served in uniform and worked on the home front during the First World War.

These are good examples of the personal stories behind the major social change that took place over the course of the war. They also illustrate the breadth of Life Stories that you’ll be able to help us discover and remember when Lives of the First World War launches this Spring.


Betty Stevenson

The first of several stories we’ll be blogging this week, Betty Stevenson is just one example of women’s involvement on the fighting fronts during the First World War.

Bertha, or Betty as she was known, was born in York and lived in Harrogate. Determined to contribute to the war effort, she served in France, initially in a canteen and then as a YMCA driver ‘for the relatives of the dangerously wounded’. She was well known around Etaples, and was nicknamed ‘The Happy Warrior’.

While sheltering in a ditch during an air raid, she was hit by shrapnel and killed on 30 May 1918 aged 21. She is buried in the cemetery at Etaples that she had described so vividly in letters to her family, which were published after the war in her memory.

Can you help us to uncover more about Betty’s story using your research, personal knowledge or images of items from your collection when Lives of the First World War launches this Spring?

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