The women who served in the two world wars,
who gave what they had, and then gave more,
the ones who waved their fiancés away,
knowing they might not return, come the day.
The army was running short of men,
too many dead to reproach or condemn,
no woman sat to twiddle her thumbs,
‘into the fray’, went buns and tongues.
They formed the Women’s Legion,
went to work to give us freedom.
Their kit of caps, jackets, skirts—khaki,
no one had time for misery or malarkey.
In droves, they joined the Auxiliary Corps,
or the Women’s Royal Air Force,
served with the men in the Medical Corps,
VADs—on a voluntary tour.
Workers in factories, cooks and mechanics,
drivers, typists, no time for panics,
the wartime state needed women’s labour,
this wasn’t a case of, ‘love thy neighbour’.
The Women’s Emergency Corps,
a clearing house, it evened the score.
The skirts ‘twelve inches from the ground’,
any less, it was thought, the men might confound.
But men had no time to be confounded
or think of skirt lengths, such fears were unfounded,
all were too busy to bask in trivia,
the focus: to win, to live through the war.
Polly Stretton © 2017
Remembrance Anthology Worcestershire Poet Laureate, 2017
The Unremembered Black Pear Press 2018