Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

 Resource created by Derbyshire Record Office

This resource will help make pupils aware of the contribution women made during WW2 through war work and as members of the armed forces.

Curriculum Links

  • KS2 History:  Study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066
  • KS3 History:  Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of the various forms of women's war work in WW2
  • Understanding of the impact and significance of women's war work
  • Skills to analyse propaganda and compare multiple sources

World War Two had a big impact upon the lives of ordinary British women. Thousands were called upon to fill their jobs and do important war work, join the women's armed services or help with volunteer work that contributed to the war effort. This resource uses archive materials from the East Midlands to investigate the experiences of women living during World War Two.

Other potential areas for additional study or independent research on women’s WW2 work, include:

  • Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA)
  • Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS)
  • The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY)
  • Munitions workers
  • Nursing – (eg. Voluntary Aid Detachment, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service)
  • Special Operations Executive (SOE) – spies
  • The Women’s Auxiliary Service - voluntary policewomen
  • The Women’s Land Army
  • The Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS)
  • The Women’s Timber Corps
  • The Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS)

Activity Ideas

(See the other pages of this resource for more discussion and activity ideas.)
  • Research a woman who was in the WW2 services:
    If you can, try to find out more about a member of your family or a woman whose story you come across during research, who did some kind of war work in the Second World War (perhaps someone who received a medal) .
    - What sort of work did she do?
    - What did her work involve?
    - Was she conscripted or did she choose to do it?
    - How did she feel about it? Did she enjoy it?
    - How many other women did this sort of work?
    - Did any of them receive medals for their work?
    - Do women still do this type of work today?
  • Creative writing: Which job available to women during the Second World War would you have chosen? Imagine you are a woman doing that job. Write a letter to a family member, describing what you have been doing and how you feel about it.
  • Design a recruitment poster: Look at the recruitment posters in the image gallery and on the Leeds University Wiki site (see the link at the bottom of the page) . Design your own poster encouraging women to choose a wartime role.
    - Try to present the job in a positive light.
    - Think about the things women may have enjoyed about their wartime jobs.
    - What sort of reasons might they have had for choosing a particular job?