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Women in the firing line : the Home Guard and the defence of gender boundaries in Britain in the Second World War.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/2000
JournalWomen's History Review
Journal number2
Volume9
Number of pages25
Pages231-255
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The Home Guard is well known as a local volunteer force formed to protect Britain against invasion in 1940. Less familiar is the history of the gendering of the organisation. Although the boundary between male combatants and female non-combatants was put under pressure in the Second World War, women's presence in the Home Guard was resisted from within government and the military hierarchy. Participation in home defence would have required women to be armed, a step which the authorities were not prepared to take, in spite of the insistence upon it of women campaigners in and out of Parliament. This article explores the tensions within political discourse that arose as a result, and the eventual official compromise, as well as analysing representations of the gendering of home defence in popular entertainment during the War and since, and the implications of such constructions for the personal reminiscences of women Home Guards.