A tribute to women at war

Women moved into many new roles in the war years.
Women moved into many new roles in the war years.
La Petite Laurette du Midi Ros 2017

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A new exhibition at the Portsmouth City Library is shining a light on the role of women in the First World War.

Temporary Men: Women in WWI looks at the part Portsmouth women of different classes and backgrounds played in the conflict.

Year 8 and Year 9 students from Portsmouth Academy for Girls, Priory School and Portsmouth High School have put the exhibition together and the project has been co-ordinated by New Theatre Royal archivist Donna Bish, of Milton.

Ms Bish says: ‘A lot of material has been written about what role men were playing in the First World War, and rightly so.

‘But with this exhibition we are trying to redress the balance and look at what women were doing at the time.’

Ms Bish says the war forced many women to take on roles traditionally reserved for men – including on machine production lines and repairing ships at the dockyards.

The exhibition includes photos, artwork, writings and performance, and focuses on three women – Hertha Ayrton, Yvonne Evans and Beatrice Hobby.

The exhibition will be on the first floor of the library until at least tomorrow afternoon, and Ms Bish says it might continue into next week. The library is open from 9am to 5pm.

To continue the First World War remembrance theme, there will be a replica of one of the first British tanks on display at the Portsmouth City Museum this weekend.

The replica Mark IV tank was used in the making of the film War Horse and will be accompanied by tank experts from the Tank Museum at Bovington and HMS Excellent on Whale Island.

The Royal Naval Gunnery School at HMS Excellent played a key role in the development of the tank, ushering in a new era in modern warfare.

There will be talks about the role tanks played in the First World War at 2pm each day and there will also be shells, replica uniforms and other objects on display.

Admission is free and the museum is open from 10am to 4pm tomorrow and Sunday.

Organisers advise calling the museum on (023) 9283 4779 if you are coming to Portsmouth just for the exhibition, as it may be cancelled at short notice if the ground is waterlogged due to the weight of the tank.