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Image for SSAFA Celebrates 100 Years Of Women In The Armed Forces

Jul 3, 2017

SSAFA Celebrates 100 Years Of Women In The Armed Forces

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, is celebrating 100 years since women were legally permitted to serve in the British military...

July marks the centenary of the formation of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), the first time women were formally enrolled in the UK Armed Forces. Back then, women’s roles involved cooking, administration and mechanical work. Today, one hundred years on they stand shoulder to shoulder with their male counterpart, with close combat roles in the Royal Marines, Royal Armoured Corps, infantry and Royal Air Force Regiment opening up to them last year.

To mark the anniversary and 100 years’ worth of contribution, SSAFA has commissioned renowned war photographer Robert Wilson to create an iconic image of currently serving women and veterans from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Airforce, including Olympic gold medallists Dame Kelly Holmes and Heather Stanning OBE.

Over the past 100 years, British females have served alongside men in almost 50 wars and conflicts, including World War One, World War Two, the Falkland’s War, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq and, most recently, the Libyan Civil War.

The twelve women photographed include the first woman to kill in combat, the highest-ranking woman in the British Army, the first transgender woman to serve, who began her career in the Royal Air Force as a man and a 95-year-old veteran who worked as a bomb site inspector in World War Two.

Sir Andrew Gregory, chief executive, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, says: “Women have been officially serving our country for a century.  SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity has been in existence for 132 years and has witnessed the evolution of the roles available for females within the military. We must take a moment to pause, reflect and celebrate their contribution as this milestone approaches. It is essential that we continue to promote inclusivity and diversity throughout our Armed Forces in order to benefit from the talent that exists across British society."

War photographer, Robert Wilson, says: “It was an honour to be asked to create an image to mark the 100 year anniversary of women enlisting in the UK Armed Forces and it was an absolute pleasure working with these twelve incredible women. SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity does such fantastic work supporting the family members of and those that have served our country in historical and recent conflicts.”

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Double Olympic Champion Kelly Holmes, who served in the British Army for ten years, said: “One of my earliest ambitions was to join the Army and win an Olympic gold medal and I was certain that being female wouldn’t stop me from doing either. I am so proud to have served my country and serve alongside so many inspirational women. I was really pleased to join SSAFA’s celebration of women in our Armed Forces. They have been there since the very beginning and have supported serving women, veterans and their families ever since."

Double Olympic Rowing Champion Heather Stanning, who is currently serving as a Major in the Royal Artillery, also said of the campaign: “The rate of evolution for women in our Armed Forces is phenomenal. It is remarkable to compare the types of jobs women did in 1917 with what they do now. I am honoured to join SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity in its celebration of 100 years of women in our Armed Forces. As one of the oldest military charities, SSAFA was there for the first woman who signed-up and will continue to be there for women in the future.”


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