You’ll Be Sorry
How World War II changed women’s lives
By Ann Howard
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $29.99 in paperback
First published in 1990, this edition is an augmented copy of two books previously written by Ann Howard, “You’ll be Sorry” and her follow up book “Where Do We Go From Here”. Highly praised when first released, these books capture the difficulties faced by women in their struggle to be given the right to join the armed services.
Eventually the authorities relented and women recruits were reluctantly integrated into the three services. This move was so successful that by mid-1945, 66,000 women were serving in the military.
Through a series of interviews, Ann Howard has been able to assemble an absorbing account of the experiences of these women. All were volunteers who were employed in a myriad of jobs.
Experiences varied but the enjoyment and satisfaction they derived from their jobs was a consistent message conveyed to Howard. Many remarked on their new found confidence gained from mastering their work tasks. But most important to them was the sense of comradeship that developed among the women.
Then Minister for the Army, Frank Forde, could see no reason for retaining women in the service and so all were demobbed at war’s end.
The sense of comradeship felt by these women soon evaporated as they returned to their former lives. Some married but found the isolation and lack of female company difficult. Coping with traumatised returning men was also a great challenge for many women. Others who had held responsible positions during the war were forced to take menial work because returning soldiers were accorded priority for the more progressive jobs.
This splendid book delivers an insightful account of the Australian Women’s Army Service.