Feminist Friday (VE Day): The Girls Who Went to War

Hello and welcome to Feminist Friday number five – can you believe its May already?! If you’re a regular follower you’ll know that on the second Friday of each month I share a feminist themed read with you guys. This month, the day also coincides with the 75th Anniversary of VE Day so I wanted to choose a book that payed tribute to both.

I just couldn’t seem to find the right read though and the day was drawing ever closer…. That is, until I spotted The Girls Who Went to War by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi, sitting on my bookshelf – waiting to be read. My Gran was reading it when she came to stay at Christmas and I commented on how good it looked. Once she had finished it, she sent it over to me and it’s been in my reading queue ever since! It was however, a bit of a last minute choice and involved a fair bit of speedy reading… Despite the close call though (I only finished it yesterday!) it was the perfect choice.

‘The Girls Who Went to War’ by Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi

‘The Girls Who Went to War’ tells the inspiring, thrilling and heart-warming true stories of girls whose lives were changed forever by the outbreak of war. Overall, more than half a million women served in the armed forces during the Second World War. This book tells the stories of just three of them – one from the Army, one from the Navy, and one from the Air Force. But in their stories are reflected the lives of hundreds of thousands of others like them – ordinary girls who went to war, wearing their uniforms with pride.

What a read! This was the sort of book that once you’ve finished, you want to go right back to page one and read all over again – there was so much to absorb. Jam-packed with historic detail, so well described you felt as if you were there… yet with a beautiful sense of journey, allowing you to connect to the stories and feel the emotion. These girls encountered experiences we can only dream of; tackling them with vigour and a truly inspiring sense of character – I was utterly hooked. In finishing the book I felt as if I had lost three very dear friends.

I love reading both fiction and non-fiction about this era and, despite the quantity that I consume, I find I am always learning something new. However, one thing in particular I find I am consistently struck anew by is the bravery and strength of wartime women. Their dedication, sense of duty, efficiency, practicality and bravery in conquering their fears, as their lives were not only tipped upside down by the outbreak of war, but then shaken beyond all recognition. For them, returning to ‘normal’, as-it-were, after the war was never really an option. Their dreams of life and love had been changed forever – and in some cases, halted before they had barely even begun. All this was taken on with a strength and spirit that never fails to inspire me, and all my own worries pale into insignificance in the wake of remembrance of what they encountered. And it isn’t only service women who deserve this credit, but all women of the war. I find I am reminded of the truth of Vera Brittain’s words…

Any picture of the war years is incomplete which omits those aspects that mainly concerned women.

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

I thoroughly recommend getting yourself a copy of this fantastic book and befriending Jessie, Margery and Kathleen – three incredible women, who may just change your life forever.

We will remember you.

And all the Wartime girls.

Thank you for the chance to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.

Meg Readz xx

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