Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Corsets to Camouflage: Women and War

Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Corsets to Camouflage: Women and War

Article excerpt

Corsets to Camouflage: Women and War By Kate Adie (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2003) (246 pages, £20.00 cloth [-$36.00 USD])

Corsets to Camouflage: Women and War is the companion book to the exhibition of the same name held at the Imperial War Museum in London from October 2003 to April 2004. Kate Adie, a prominent British journalist, details the role of women in wartime during twentiethcentury Britain. Adie's thesis is that a uniform- belonging to a group and having a purpose in war- was as important to women citizenry as it was to the men. Adie begins with an introduction to the British women in pre-twentieth-century conflicts, including Florence Nightingale. She then moves to such Edwardian women as horse ambulance drivers and then, to World War I. In addition to women volunteers in military reserve forces, Adie also includes women who did not wear uniforms but served in necessary but decidedly unglamorous roles. These include the Land Army, responsible for harvesting crops, maintaining animal husbandry, and felling timber; and women working in the dangerous munitions factories. The various British military Auxiliary branches are separately addressed with their respective roles and functions.

The experiences of British women during World War II comprises the bulk of this text. These women (like their American counterparts) made significant contributions to the war's outcome in the military branches, in agriculture and wartime industry, and as espionage agents. Adie compares British women's military experiences with those of their United States and Soviet Union allies, and contrasts them with the strictly non-military domestic role of German women. …

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