'I Love the Scent of Cordite in Your Hair': Gender Dynamics in Mixed Anti-Aircraft Batteries during the Second World War

Title'I Love the Scent of Cordite in Your Hair': Gender Dynamics in Mixed Anti-Aircraft Batteries during the Second World War
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsGroot, Gerard J. de
JournalHistory
Volume82
Issue265
Pagination73-92
Date Published01/1997
Abstract

During World War II, labor shortages forced the British government to introduce women from the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) into antiaircraft batteries. The decision was controversial since it brought women closer to active combat than they had ever been in the past. In order to preserve the noncombatant status of women, the female recruits were not allowed to load or fire the guns. Their roles were instead restricted to plotting and aiming. Though there was at first some resistance to the idea of mixed batteries, this came not from the Royal Artillery, but rather from senior officers in the ATS. This article examines the experiences of the women concerned, and of the men who fought with them. Special attention is given to the ways in which women were prevented from being fully assimilated into gunner units. The article also assesses the effect this experience had on gender identity and relations and on the role of women in war.

URLhttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-229X.00028/abstract
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