The Canadian Women's Auxiliary Air Force (CWACs) was created on July 2 1941 - the first Canadian military branch to accept women. A year later it was integrated with the Royal Canadian Air Force and renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Division.
In 1939 there were no women in the RCAF. The RCAF Women's Division began in 1941 and employed over 17,000 women in non-combat roles. Twenty from Women's Division received the British Empire Medal, 12 officers received the Member of the British Empire, and one officer, Dr. Jean Davey, was awarded the Order of the British Empire. Twenty-eight Women's Division died during the war from various causes. Museum Canada 150 Project (BCATP)
Squadron Officer Kathleen Lorena Jeffs (Toronto), awarded MBE (Member of the British Empire), January 1, 1944 for work in the Directorate of Supply Administration, AFHQ, Ottawa.
Squadron Officer Jeffs, as Chief Messing Officer to the RCAF, has personally reorganized the messing services and established a messing branch of the Women's Division consisting of highly qualified dieticians. Under her direction a very high standard of Service messing has been achieved which has been an important contribution to the welfare and morale of aircrew training in Canada. This officer has displayed outstanding ability and energy in the performance of her duties.
Both WW1 and WW2 exapnded the roles of women. Women also continued in traditional roles, those roles were more highly valued.
These videos describe the exapnding role for women in both wars, as well as expand on the tradional roles in war time.
When the War began (in 1939) women began to take on roles that men usually had. Give six examples of jobs women began to do.
There were over 17,000 women who signed up for what would become the Women’s Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAFWD).
List three important jobs they did that were important to the War effort.
All the Women’s jobs in the RCAF were “non-combat” roles. What do you think the term “non-combat” means?
Why do you think Women were only allowed to have non-combat roles? (Hint: Think of how women were viewed back in the 1930’s and 1940’s)
In your opinion, would WWII have been different if women had been allowed to serve in combat roles such as flying missions over Nazi Germany? In what ways might it have been different? Give reasons for your answer.
Read the story about Maxine Gloeckner who was a civilian. What role did she have with the troops and how did she die?
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