General History Database and Discussion
A tool for Hogan's Heroes fanfic writers and hopefully of interest to the forum readers: a forum for facts, questions and discussion about the era that shaped both the times and the characters in WWII.
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I'm new to this site, and have not written a fic yet, but I'm gathering background info, and my current Gr. 10 level history is not sufficient for my purpose. I don't intend to write a romance fic, but if anyone has this info it would be alot of help for other purposes tyan romance. What was the deal with the WAAFs and the WAACs? I had a great great aunt Phyllis who was a gunner in the WAAF, so I guess that mans they must have seen some action.
5/13/2012 #1
dust on the wind

Hi, Kathy.

My understanding is that the rank of "gunner" in British military terms of the period might simply be the equivalent of "private". Spike Milligan held the rank of "gunner", but he was actually a signaller attached to an artillery regiment; and in fictional terms, the members of the entertainment troop in "It Ain't Half Hot, Mum" (British TV series) all held the rank of "gunner", but never once saw active combat.

A quick search on Wikipedia indicates that the rank of "gunner" is used by the RAF Regiment; women are enlisted as auxiliaries in that regiment, but even now don't serve in close combat, in line with British government policy.

If this information is correct, Phyllis may have been posted to a support role but still held the rank of "gunner".

Women who were enlisted in the ATS were trained and assigned as anti-aircraft gunners, radar operators, drivers, orderlies, cooks...almost anything, in fact, short of active combat service. I imagine similar conditions would apply to the WAAF.

I've not done a lot of research on the WAAC (and Wikipedia's a little scant) but what I have read indicates they were also used in support roles, not active service.

However, members of all the women's auxiliaries did serve (again, in support, not active combat) on the Continent, but not till several weeks after D-Day.

Women in the US forces have been allowed to serve in combat situations only since 1994; the British Army, Royal Marines and RAF Regiment still exclude them from primarily combat units; however, there are female fighter pilots now serving in the Middle East.


6/4/2012 . Edited 6/4/2012 #2
Thanks, dust! This really cleared things up! I think she was probably working with anti-aircraft batteries, b/c my mum seems quite sure that she was feeding ammo into some sort of gun :P
6/7/2012 #3
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