Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Cap Badge
The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was the branch of the British Army that women could join during and immediately after the First World War.
The WAAC was formed in 1917 to employ women in non-combat roles in the British Army while it was in France. It was established in order to free up men to fight at the front and was restricted to ‘female’ work such as catering, storekeeping and administration duties. Women of the WAAC were initially only permitted to work in Britain, but this was eventually expanded to France to help support the continuing War effort.
HRH Queen Mary was so impressed by the work of the WAAC that she became their patron in 1918, and the Corps was then renamed Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps (QMAAC).
Around 50,000 women had volunteered their services by the end of the First World War in 1918. Despite being in non-combat roles, women were often caught up in enemy attacks as they carried out their duties. 81 women were killed in action while serving in the QMAAC.
After the War, the QMAAC stayed in France to help with the clean-up and often tended to the cemetery gardens. As the Army returned to pre-War operations, the QMAAC was disbanded and women were expected to return to their pre-War lives.
Many women of the QMAAC returned to Military service during World War Two, joining the newly established Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS).
Brass badge with the letters WAAC surround by a laurel wreath.