If you have followed us for a while you will probably know that we are, in fact, an armed forces family! My husband, R, is in the Royal Navy and has been since he was a fresh faced 16 year old, all those years ago. It’s all he’s known job wise, and it now feels like all I’ve known as well with the amount of time apart we have been dealing with recently.
Armed forces family life isn’t for the faint hearted. You really don’t know what you’re ‘signing up for’ when you meet your sailor/airman/soldier, and you spend a very long time coming to terms with the fact that, as long as they’re in the forces, you will usually end up coming second…or third. You spend long periods of time apart, and move around regularly. Uprooting the life you’ve built, having to leave your job and taking the kids away from friends and schools they are happy at. Starting all over again. Again.
However, we are so very proud to be an armed forces family. The kids are incredibly proud when they see Dada in his uniform, and love showing off their huggable heroes when they’re at nursery and school. I start to well up every time I see a deployment or homecoming but the thing that really gets me are parades. Especially Remembrance Day ones. R marched in one a couple years ago and I was so proud, I thought I might burst.
Remembrance Day is fast approaching and it is especially memorable this year because it marks 100 years since the First World War ended.
With our background, I thought it might be helpful to explain why it’s still so important to commemorate Remembrance Day and to say thank you to the First World War generation. The example and experience of those who lived through WW1 shaped the world we live in today. These people gave up so much to ensure the safety of future generations. That’s huge! Remember that things weren’t the way they are now, back then. A lot of things were tougher in general, regardless of a war going on.
In 2018 The Royal British Legion is leading the nation in saying Thank You to all who served, sacrificed and changed our world and you can join in too!
It’s important to recognise who to thank. Of course the Armed Forces are right up there at the top, but there were so many other people involved as well – people in the arts, children, pioneers, women and the commonwealth, for example. You can find out lots more over on The Royal British Legion website but I wanted to focus in on children and women because they are so relevant to us as parents.
The First World War affected the youngest of the UK population. Children across Britain came together to do their bit to help by working in war factories, turning their schools fields into allotments to help grow food or as boy scouts and girl guides taking up extra responsibilities working as coast guards. Children had to grow up quickly to help aid the war effort and many school leavers went straight into war work.
Another thing I found fascinating, that children helped out with, were jobs for MI5. Girls are often seen to be a bit gossipy, but during WW1 they were entrusted to carry confidential messages for MI5, after the boy scouts were considered too talkative and excitable. Today, at over 100 years old, Girl Guiding is still standing strong. I was a Rainbow and a Brownie and loved it, but can you imagine your little ones helping out MI5? I’m not sure my two could keep a secret!
Children contributed in so many different ways and did their country proud. A massive, big thank you to them!
Women played a huge role in WW1 and this, in turn, helped to change the role of women in Britain forever. In this day and age, us women are a very important part of the workforce in the UK, but back in the day, before WW1 happened, this was not the case at all.
Edwardian women’s roles were mainly based around the house. They were expected to be mothers, carers and homemakers. But with huge numbers of men leaving to fight in WW1, these women then had to take on the jobs of those who were serving. From 1914 onwards, millions of women took on jobs traditionally held by men, such as factory work, transport and farming. In 1914 just over 2 million worked in factories and by the end of the war it was nearly 3 million. This meant lots of women who hadn’t worked outside the home before, now did and could build up their skills considerably.
Many women who had been in solitary occupations prior to the war, such as domestic service, really enjoyed working with other women and must have been able to expand their social groups a lot more than they had been able to before, which would have meant more friends and support. Something we all need.
Today nurses and paramedics are a key part of front line medical care, but during the First World War female nurses administering first aid on the front line was a completely new concept. A really important one which inevitably saved thousands of lives. Today it is totally normal to be treated by male and female surgeons but before the First World War women doctors did not treat men at all. Doesn’t this seem so strange to us, in 2018, that this would be the case?
After the war ended it was expected that women should return back to domestic roles. Many women were forced to quit industrial jobs to make way for the returning men. What’s great though is that their role, and contribution, in the war had fundamentally changed how society regarded them and in 1918 around 8.5 million women over 30 got the vote.
It’s so interesting to see all the different ways women got involved with helping during the war. It looks like it really did spur on the push towards equal rights for men and women, and it’s very inspiring. A huge thank you to all these wonderful women!
We need to say thank you. We need to never forget. The past shapes the future and we can’t ever forget the sacrifices those in the past made for us, in order for us to live the lives we do.
There are so many ways you can say thank you this centenary year:
*This post is a paid collaboration with Mumsnet but all thoughts, words and opinions are 100% our own.