Women of Ulster

There were a number of munition factories in Belfast. Mackies on the Springfield Road employed 4,000 women in making shells, ammunition and bomb components.

In the textile factories, women manufactured thousands of uniforms, parachutes and camouflage nets for the armed services. It is estimated that 90% of all shirts required for war effort were made in Londonderry.

The Civil Defence Service employed women in the operations rooms. Many thousands served in the Red Cross, St John Ambulance Brigade and Civil Defence Nursing Reserve.

Women joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and served with the armed forces in war theatres overseas and at home.  Members of the WAAF helped to staff the RAF operations room at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.  Members of the WRNS ran a shore-to-ship signal station at Belfast Castle and were responsible for briefing convoy commanders in Belfast Lough. There were 300 WRNS in Derry. Women serving in the ATS operated searchlights at coastal defence sites like Magilligan.

The Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) helped families who were the victims of the Blitz. They clothed 7,000 people and served 70,000 meals after the Easter Tuesday air raid.

Women from churches and community groups ran canteens, organised dances and sent comfort parcels to soldiers.

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