the auxiliary territorial service in the second world war - Imperial War ...

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the auxiliary territorial service in the second world war - Imperial War ...

Imperial War Museum(INFORMATION SHEET NO. 42)THE AUXILIARY TERRITORIAL SERVICE INTHE SECOND WORLD WARThe purpose of this information sheet is to provide guidance ontracing those who served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service andadvise on sources for useful background information on theiractivities. The Imperial War Museum does not hold any officialpersonal service records or documentation, although this sheetprovides information on where these can be found. TheDepartment of Printed Books has a very good library containinginformation on the ATS and visitors are welcome to visit ourReading Room by prior appointment between 10 am and 5 pm,Monday to Saturday, subject to weekend closures for BankHolidays.All other departments within the Collections Division – Art,Documents, Exhibits and Firearms, Film and PhotographArchives and the Sound Archive – are open to the public by priorappointment.Compiled by Sarah E Paterson, October 2003 (updated September2008)© Department of Printed Books, Imperial War Museum,Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZTel: (+44) 020 7416 5342Fax: (+44) 020 7416 5246Website: www.iwm.org.ukEmail: collections@iwm.org.uk


Women had served with the British Army in the First World War in the Women’sArmy Auxiliary Corps (from April 1918 renamed Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps),but this was strictly a wartime formation that ceased to exist in September 1921.When war once again looked likely in the late 1930s, there was no question thatwomen would have an important role to play. The Auxiliary Territorial Service wasestablished on 9 September 1938, organised on the same lines as the TerritorialArmy. From April 1941 it was granted full military status, and in the following months,different legislation was passed ensuring that officers received a commission in thesame way their male counterparts did, and that military discipline was enforced.The ATS served in most theatres of war, as well as in locations such as Washingtonand the Caribbean. The variety of work also became much greater – as well asdomestic and clerical trades, more technical work became available, and manywomen served with Anti-Aircraft Command, although they never (officially!) fired theguns. At its peak in June 1943, 210,308 officers and auxiliaries were serving with theATS.After the end of the war, it was decided that a small volunteer female force should beretained as part of the regular army, and on 1 February 1949 the Women’s RoyalArmy Corps was established. This was disbanded in 1992, with many of itsmembers being transferred to the Adjutant General’s Corps, or elsewhere in theArmy.Service RecordsRecords for members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service and Women’s Royal ArmyCorps are still held by the Ministry of Defence. These can be applied for by post fromArmy Personnel Centre, Disclosures 4, MP 400, Kentigern House, 65 BrownStreet, Glasgow G2 8EX. Initial contact can be made by telephone (0845 600 9663)or e-mail – please include your postal address (disc4.civsec@apc.army.mod.uk).Records will be released to proven next of kin for a £30 fee, but there may be alengthy wait for this service.Casualty RecordsAll those who died in service were entitled to an Imperial (later Commonwealth) WarGraves Commission headstone (or, if there was no known grave, to have their nameengraved on a Commission memorial). Details of their place of burial orcommemoration are held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 2Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 7DX (Tel: 01628 634221; Website:www.cwgc.org). Their database Debt of Honour can be found on this website.The CD-ROM Army Roll of Honour: World War II produced by Naval and MilitaryPress can be seen in our Reading Room, or may be available through other largereference libraries. This has details of 717 members of the ATS who died during theSecond World War.Medal RecordsDetails about medal awards and claims for unissued medals should be addressed tothe Ministry of Defence Medal Office, Building 250, Innsworth Station,Gloucester GL3 1HW.Corps CollectionWhen the Women’s Royal Army Corps Museum in Guildford closed down, thecontents were passed to the National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road,Chelsea, London SW3 4HT (Tel: 020 7730 0717; Website: www.national-army-


museum.ac.uk) in 1993. An extensive collection of material relating to the ATS isheld there, including photographs, personal papers (although no nominal rolls orlistings of this nature). In order to visit the National Army Museum reading room it isnecessary to have a reader’s ticket – these can be applied for at the above address.Further ReadingThe following book titles will provide you with more information about the ATS. Youcan make an appointment to view these in our Reading Room (Tel: 020 7416 5344)or you may be able to obtain other copies of these through your local library’s interlibrary loan scheme. More book titles can be found on our Auxiliary TerritorialService Recommended Reading List.We also hold a run of the Old Comrades’ Association Gazette from July 1920 untilMarch-April 1942 when it became the QMAAC and ATS Comrades AssociationGazette. This continued until 1950 when it became Lioness. We have an almostcomplete run of this until 1995.The Women’s Royal Army Corps / by Shelford Bidwell (London: Leo Cooper, 1977)[Famous Regiments series].The Auxiliary Territorial Service / compiled by Controller J M Cowper ([London]: WarOffice, 1949).Women in khaki: the story of the British woman soldier / by Roy Terry (London:Columbus Books, 1988).Service with the Army / by Chief Controller, Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan (London:Hutchinson, [1942]).Women in uniform / edited by D. Collett Wadge (London: Sampson, Low, Marston,[1946]).Regulations for the Auxiliary Territorial Service 1941 / War Office (London: HMSO,1941).Some websites that might be helpful are listed below:www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/categories/c1217/www.atsremembered.pwp.blueyonder.co.ukwww.wracassociation.co.ukhttp://hometown.aol.co.uk/asummerof44/myhomepage/collection.html

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