World first woman to become an aircraft

World War II was a terribleevent that affected just about everyone in the world.

World War II employedalmost everyone. While men were fighting at war, women were not allowed tofight in war, so they worked in factories or provided something helpful for thepeople on their side of the war and for their country on the homefront. Thoughwomen were not allowed to fight at war, they were a vital helper for thesoldiers. Even though women had limited positions into contributing to the wareffort in the beginning, women’s positions had expanded in being more a part ofthe war, such was the case for them on the homefront.

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Women were a significantvital helper into contributing to the war effort. An examination of womenworking in Canadian industries, women working as nurses, and women working inthe Women’s Auxiliary Air Force will prove that women contributed significantly to the Allied wareffort in World War II. Women working in Canadian industries proves that womencontributed significantly to the Allied war effort in World War II. A womannamed Elsie MacGill was the first woman to become an aircraft designer.

She wasalso the first woman to graduate with an electrical engineering degree and anaeronautics degree. MacGill became the world’s first female aircraft. “Elsie designed, oversaw production and was aboard thetest flight of the Maple Leaf Trainer II.  She was “Queen of theHurricanes” and pivotal in the production of the Hawker Hurricane in Canadaduring World War II and designed a series of modifications including deicingand skis to equip the plane for cold weather flying.”1 Another womannamed Veronica Foster also known as “Bren Gun Girl,” worked in a large industrycalled John Inglis Company Ltd.

This industry was making guns. Foster made herown type of machine gun called “The Bren.” There were thousands of these gunsproduced and used in the battles of World War II. This following quotation presentsFoster’s hard work, “the Bren Gun Girl worked at the heavy-manufacturing JohnInglis Company Ltd. plant. The factory was converted from building largemachinery and pumps into a gun-making plant, specializing in the Bren machinegun.

The facility was expanded to cover 23 acres with 1 million square feet offloor space. The Bren was a light and reliable machine gun used by the Britishand Commonwealth military. The Inglis facility contracted with governments in1939 to make the weapons for both British and Canadian soldiers, producing12,000 guns over the war years.

“2 Lastly, Louise Johnson was aCanadian worker who worked in the munitions industry with thousands of workingwomen in the community of Ajax, her job in the Defense Industries Limited (DIL)was to prepare explosives for World War II. The following quotation proves thatJohnson and other women were hard workers, “Louise need not have worried. Shewas assigned the Blue Shift filling 3.7” shells with cordite. There were threecolour-coded shifts in the plant that worked around the clock six days a week.

The safety bandanas that the women wore to cover their hair were differentcolours for each shift. The shell filling wasn’t difficult but the threat ofstatic electricity around explosives made the job dangerous.”3 Afterall, Elsie MacGill, Veronica Foster, andLouise Johnson prove that women were vital helpers for the soldiers servingoverseas and that they did contribute significantly to the Second World War. Canadian women working as nurses proves that women contributed significantly to the Allied wareffort in World War II. Women contributed to the war just as much as men,especially nurses who were helping to save soldiers’ lives. These nurses eitherserved in the navy, air force, or army. The nurses would perform surgery;provide therapy, medications, etc. Nurses would also need to be physicallyactive because the days would be so intense, that they needed to keep up withthe day and provide medical attention to many soldiers in need.

This quotationshows how stressful and hard being a nurse was in battle, “this work exposed them to progressive new techniqueslike burn therapy, intravenous therapy, musculoskeletal reconstruction, andblood transfusions. The skills and stamina of the nurses were constantly put tothe test. One of the most vigorous and intense days occurred in 1942 when theBattle of Dieppe resulted in over 600 casualties, with as many as 95 operationsperformed in a single day.

“4 Being a nurse wasdefinitely a hard job to do at war. The nurses were in dangerous situations,not as much as the soldiers were, but they were still a vital helper to the wareffort. Soldiers were not the only people dying, nurses died too. Thisquotation shows how soldiers were not the only ones in danger, but nurses too, “we could see the glow of fires burning in the city,and our own hospital was subjected to attack by incendiary bombs.

Medicalstudents took turns to man the rooftops of the hospital in fire-watchingduties, having been trained to deal with threatening incendiary bombs.”5About 4,480 Canadian nurses had enlisted to join the war. These nurseswere separated into the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, Royal Canadian AirForce Branch, and Royal Canadian Naval Medical Service. Unfortunately, about200 Canadian nurses died trying to save other people’s lives and to serve theircountry. The following quotation proves that nurses were needed for any battle, “with the average age of 25, by war’s end 4,480Nursing Sisters had enlisted, including: 3,656 with the Royal Canadian ArmyMedical Corps, 481 with the Royal Canadian Air Force Medical Branch, and 343with the Royal Canadian Naval Medical Service.”6 Even though it wastragic for so many to die, their honour and bravery, will never be forgotten.Their lives represent the Canadian flag and who Canada is as a country.

Women were not allowed to participate in combat, but wereallowed to be a part of the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force which provesthat Canadian women contributed significantly to the Allied war effort in WorldWar II. Women who were part of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – originallynamed Women’s Royal Air Force – were recruited to be drivers, fill posts asclerks and other jobs that men would original do. Over a short amount of timewomen got even more involved in the war by doing telegraphy, telephony, usingcodes, and ciphers.

There were also women who provided maintenance foraircrafts. All of these positions that are involved in supporting an air forcewould not have been done without women because these women released men to bemoved to front-line duties. The following quotation proves that women werecontributing in the air force, “WAAF foundthat they were now doing far more than driving, cooking etc. WAAF were trainedin radar plotting, the maintenance of barrage balloons, photographicinterpretation etc.”7 Women’s options of positions in contributingto the war expanded. In 1941, the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (CWAAF)became part of the Royal Canadian Air Force. There were 17,038 women who were inthe Royal Air Force.

Kathleen Walker and Jean Flatt Davey were the first twofemale members of the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Walker, the firstofficer in the Women Division’s and Davey was a Section Officer who was underWalker’s supervision. “Kathleen Oonah Walker was the Women Division’s firstofficer, with the rank of Flight Officer from the start of the Division. H.R.

H.Princess Alice was to be the Division’s third officer, as an honorary rank,though. Kathleen Walker’s mandate was to set up the RCAF’s women auxiliaryservices. She was well versed in the RCAF’s structure, her husband – who diedin May 1941 – having been Group Captain C.C.

Walker. She also had in-depthexperience of volunteer and auxiliary organizations. Recruitment started in1941 under Walker’s supervision and that of Section Officer Jean Flatt Davey.”8Finally, The Women’s Auxiliary Air Force was successful in many ways.

There were successful in getting women jobs. They helped men at war, they providedadditional skills and knowledge to the air force, and they did a huge favour inserving their country. The following quotation shows that women addedadditional support to the war effort, “during the war opportunities opened upand the working lives of women drastically changed, their skills were sharpenedand their confidence grew and their contribution to the war effort was a hugeone. They also changed a lot of attitudes along the way. For example, a GroupCaptain in the RAF had previously been skeptical about the WAAF commenting in1939.”9 Overall, women in the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Forcehelped the war effort, themselves, and their country. Women contributed to the war effort asvital helpers and fighters.

Elsie MacGill, Veronica Foster, and Louise Johnson are just a few whotruly made history and made a change with their inventions and hard work inindustries. All of the soldiers in war would never be forgotten and neitherwould the nurses. Nurses risked their lives to help other lives and they didthat by giving medical attention to those in need.

Women also contributed tothe war by participating in the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, theirhelp and success has added more skills and knowledge to the force. As Canadianslook back in the past, the Canadian Human Rights and the Canadian Charter ofRights and Freedoms has changed and improved the equality of human rights forCanadians over time. This constitution was meant for every Canadian to haveequal rights and freedoms no matter who they are, yet there are still incidenceswhere people are treated unfairly. Is the constitution enough for people to beexactly equal in respect to rights and freedoms?  

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