On this day: the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force is Formed

Waaf Australian Auxiliary Air Force REcruitment Poster Second World War Two 1940s

Second World War recruitment poster.

Britain’s Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, whose members were known as WAAFs, was formed on the 28th of June, 1939, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. Conscription of women began in 1941.

Women in the organisation worked in many fields, from parachute packing to meteorology, aircraft maintenance, and work with codes, in addition to catering and nursing.

Two WAAF cooks at an Royal Air Force aerodrome, following recipes for a hundred pies and a hundred scones. September 1940.

Two WAAF cooks at an Royal Air Force aerodrome, following recipes for a hundred pies and a hundred scones. September 1940. X

By 1943 over 2000 women were enlisting a week, bringing the force’s numbers to a peak of over 180 000.

At the end of the war numbers reduced significantly, and the WAAF was turned into the  Women’s Royal Air Force in 1949.

On this day: Frenchwomen finally vote

After decades of campaigning, the women of France voted for the first time on the 29th of April, 1945, when municipal elections were held. Legislation for women’s suffrage had been passed in October the year before.

While late, France wasn’t the last European country to grant women the vote. Women’s suffrage came even later in Italy, Greece, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra and Switzerland. Liechtenstein was the last to adopt equal voting rights – only in 1984.

This image from May of 1935 is of French suffragette Louise Weiss demonstrating alongside women holding papers saying The Frenchwoman Must Vote.

Suffragettes in France demonstrate in May of 1935. French women didn't win the vote until the mid-1940s. Louise Weiss along with other suffragettes in 1935. The bold text on the newspape

On this day: Workmen in London

Workers at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London remove scaffolding from the Victoria Tower. The image appeared in The Illustrated London News on the 20th of March, 1954.

From The Londonist, via the British Newspaper Archive.

workers removing the scaffolding from the Victoria Tower Westminster London in 1954. the Illustrated London News, 20 March 1954.

On this day: Wounded soldiers in Norway.

Raid_on_Vaagso,_27_December_1941_N481 Norway British Army Second World War Two Black and White Vintage

27th December 1941: Wounded soldiers are transferred onto a landing craft in Vaagso (the island of Vågsøy), Norway. The country was under Nazi occupation at the time.

The photograph was taken during the one-day Operation Archery, a combined British and Norwegian raid against German forces that resulted in an Allied victory over the Nazis.

The Norwegian commander of the raid, Martin Linge, was killed in action during the operation.

On this day: a Veteran Sergeant at Home

A veteran sergeant in the Dorking Home Guard cleans his Tommy gun at the dining room table, before going on parade, 1 December 1940. Second World War Two

1st December 1940: The Blitz, the German air raid campaign against the United Kingdom, was in full force in December of 1940.

Britain’s Home Guard, made up of 1.5 million volunteers ineligible for regular military service (due to circumstances such as age), operated from 1940 to 1944, guarding their homeland during the Second World War.

The caption of this photograph reads:

A veteran sergeant in the Dorking Home Guard cleans his Tommy gun at the dining room table, before going on parade, 1 December 1940.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

On this day: Coventry in Ruins

The English city of Coventry suffered numerous Nazi bombing attacks in the blitz of 1940, but the worst came in November.

The city was bombarded from the 14th to the 15th, killing hundreds of people and injuring many hundreds more.

Coventry_devastation_H_5601A street in Coventry, England, after the Coventry Blitz of 14–15 November 1940. In the background are the tower and spire of Holy Trinity parish church. 16th

Coventry_bomb_damage_H5600Broadgate in Coventry city centre following the Coventry Blitz of 14-15 November 1940. The burnt out shell of the Owen Owen department store (opened in 1937) 16

These photographs were taken on the 16th, showing many buildings ruined, and the recently built Owen Owen department store – the exterior still stands, but the inside was destroyed.

Coventry_Cathedral_after_the_air_raid_in_1940The ruined nave and chancel of Coventry Cathedral, England, seen from the west tower. It is in ruins after the German air raid of November 19

Coventry Cathedral was largely ruined, and still stands as a shell today. The new cathedral was built next door, and opened in 1962.

Hundreds more people were killed in German bombings the following year.