Women at War

When war started in 1914 people thought it would be over by Christmas. But soon it became clear that the war would go on a lot longer. As more and more men went away to fight, the women in Britain wanted to do more to help the war effort.

In 1915 women in Britain went on marches calling for changes so that they could do more. In February 1915 the Women's Police Service was set up and in June the government passed the Munitions of War Act. This was part of a plan to get Britain making more ammunition because of the shortages on the Western Front. The Act called for lots of new employees for the munitions factories and 46,000 women applied in the first week. These women become known as Munitionettes.

Welsh women make their contribution, working in factories and on the land as well as going abroad to help the Allied cause.

In 1915 the first Women's Institute (WI) was set up on Anglesey to encourage women to grow more food and to preserve what they had as Britain worried about being left short because of German submarine attacks on merchant ships.

Women took up jobs in one of Wales' biggest munitions factories at Pembrey where they produced TNT and dynamite, and at Taylor and Son's foundry in Briton Ferry where shells were produced. However the dangerous nature of this work became clear in July 1917 when an explosion at Pembrey killed four workers including two teenage women - Mildred Owen, 18, and Mary Watson, 19.

Welsh women also went abroad to help the Allied cause.

Maisie Bowcott and Elizabeth Wilkins were nurses who went abroad to help treat wounded Allied soldiers. Elizabeth Wilkins worked with the famous nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed for her role in helping more than 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium.