Remembering the women of Portsmouth who did their duty in the First World War

The Women's Royal Air Force dress uniform.
The Women's Royal Air Force dress uniform.
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Although the list of men from Portsmouth and the surrounding area who served in the First World War is almost endless, we must not forget the ladies who did their bit.

Unfortunately most of those I have found only have initials.

Women workers at Portsmouth's dockyard.

Women workers at Portsmouth's dockyard.

Miss C. Adams of 27, Timpson Road, Landport, joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in early 1918 and worked as a waitress in the sergeants’ mess at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire.

A Wren who served in HMS Excellent on Whale Island was Miss A. Austin. She lived at 43, Regent Street, Mile End.

One of the most dangerous occupations of the war was in munitions. Miss C.O. Bailey of 32, Hereford Street worked in the munitions factory in Gosport.

She later worked in the dockyard in the wheelwright’s shop until the end of hostilities.

Quite how we would have managed without them I don’t know

Another who worked in munitions was Miss L.A. Baker of 42, Prince Regent Street, Portsea. She worked at Hayes, Middlesex right through the war.

Mrs E. Barter of 24, White Hart Lane, Portchester, was in the Land Army and worked on farms in Hertfordshire before transferring to munitions at Woolwich Arsenal, London.

A.D. Baverstock lived at 44, Buckingham Street, Landport. I cannot find if she was married or not.

She served in Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps (QMAAC) as a forewoman. She was engaged in various camps on Salisbury Plain and for a short while attached to the 53rd Hampshire Regiment.

Women munitions workers in training with instructors at the municipal college.

Women munitions workers in training with instructors at the municipal college.

Miss R.E. Baxter of 48, Staunton Street, Landport was also in the Land Army and worked all over the country. She was given a special badge for her services.

Two sisters who lived at 34, Tottenham Road, Landport were employed in the Embarkation Depot, Southsea. Misses K & O Taylor were employed as shorthand typists.

Miss W. Duffin worked at the Huntley & Palmer biscuit factory in Reading producing iron rations. By doing this she released a man to serve in the forces.

She lived at 12 Gold Street, Southsea. No doubt a neighbour living at 8 Gold Street was Miss L.E. Harrington who worked for the Navy and Army Canteen Board.

A lady taxi driver.

A lady taxi driver.

She is recorded as doing good work as a charge hand at important stations along the coast. In 1920 she was still employed.

Miss N. Lillewhite of 14, Orange Street, Portsea seems to have been a little bit special. She was firstly engaged at Woolwich Arsenal and then back home at Chidham’s Aviation Works in King Street, Southsea.

She then worked in HMS Vernon testing deep sea mines and other important work. A top girl indeed.

Miss E.I. Bird of Prince George Street, Portsea volunteered for the QMAAC in 1917 and transferred to the WRAF In over two years work she did sterling work rendering first aid to victims of some of the first ever air raids on London.

Miss J. Baker of 15 Tokyo Road, Copnor also joined the QMAAC in February 1917 and actually served in France. She worked in Boulogne as a waitress to the forces until returning home in 1919.

The women of the town did other sterling work in civilian life as well of course including the post office, tram drivers and conductors, railway porters and in banks.

Quite how we would have managed without them I don’t know. I am sure many would have been aggrieved on finding that when the men came home to civilian life, they had to give up their jobs for them.

Just imagine that happening today.

Bob Hind’s series on Portsmouth in the Great War continues next week.