Women and the French Army during the World Wars, 1914-1940
How did women contribute to the French Army in the World Wars? Drawing on myriad sources, historian Andrew Orr examines the roles and value of the many French women who have been overlooked by historians--those who worked as civilians supporting the military. During the First World War most officers expected that the end of the war would see a return to prewar conditions, so they tolerated women in supporting roles. But soon after the November 1918 armistice, the French Army fired more than half its female employees. Demobilization created unexpected administrative demands that led to the next rehiring of many women. The army's female workforce grew slowly and unevenly until 1938 when preparations for war led to another hiring wave; however, officers resisted all efforts to allow women to enlist as soldiers and alternately opposed and ignored proposals to recognize them as long-term employees. Orr's work offers a critical look at the indispensable wartime roles filled by women behind the lines.