Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Employment of Girls in the First World War

Everyone did their bit

A fascinating snippet in a recent copy of "The Times" mentioned a piece published in that newspaper on the 13th of April 1915 and describes some of the advertisements under the "Situations Vacant" heading.

At that time, and for many years after the First World War, it was customary for children to leave school at the age of fourteen and go out to work.   As the war progressed and the lads employed as messengers, delivery boys, shop assistants and so on were called up for military service, so the need to employ girls became evident.

Here are some of the ads mentioned:

"Girl required to take charge of bookstall aged 15 - 16"

"Girls, age 14 or 15, for bookstalls, wages 8s. a week.  (One shilling back then would be worth approximately £10 today)

"Girl wanted as messenger in City and West End".

According to the report, "...the District Messenger Company has followed the example of Reuter's Agency by enrolling a number of girls as district messengers.  At each of the main offices of the company there are now half a dozen girls above school age ready to undertake, with a few obvious exceptions, any of the hundred-and-one tasks performed by a District Messenger boy."

"The bookstall girls has been with us for some weeks.  Both Messrs WH Smith and Son and Messrs Willing and Co (Limited) are gradually substituting girls aged from 14 to 16 for boys who leave their stalls on the Underground Railway stations.   The work is light, and though the hours are long - from 8 am to 7 pm in at least one case - the girls are quite contented.

The life-girl, who has had a place for a considerable time in one or two of the larger West End shops, has justified herself, and others of her kind are likely to appear.  In some of the booking-offices at railway stations younger women are now to be found and, as has already been stated, women porters and ticket collectors are being given a trial.  The van-girl is yet to come."

But come she did to drive vans and much more...

"The Times", 13th April 2015

Picture:  Google Images - Propaganda poster WW1

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