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Women, woods and war

The images of the First World War are of trenches, barbed wire and the fallen. It is easy to forget how vital timber was to the war effort, both at home and on the frontline, and that there was a severe shortage during the war. As with almost every other industry at the time, women stepped up into new roles and as part of our Centenary Woods (First World War) programme, we are recognising their vital contribution and ensuring that these lesser known stories are not forgotten.

Through our participation in the Imperial War Museum’s WomensWork 100, we uncovered two largely untold stories about women in forestry and football during the war.

Women’s Forestry Service

Prime Minister David Lloyd George famously remarked that Britain came closer to losing the war through lack of timber than want of food.  Of course, both were in acute shortage. Women helped address the timber shortage through the formation and activities of the Women’s Forestry Service, an organisation closely associated with the Women’s Land Army. Over 3,500 women were trained as either ‘measurers’ or ‘cutters’ and were involved in all aspects of timber processing, proving a vital resource to the war effort. You can read the full story on the IWM website here.

Members of the Women's Land Army Forestry Corps drive a horse-drawn sleigh to transport wood during the First World War (Photo: Imperial War Museum)
Members of the Women's Land Army Forestry Corps drive a horse-drawn sleigh to transport wood during the First World War (Photo: Imperial War Museum)

For club and country

Through the creation of a woodland memorial, our For Club and Country project is paying tribute to the women footballers who kept the flame of football burning brightly through the dark days of war.

Although women's football had been played before the First World War, it had not been well received. As the war progressed, however, the women's game became more popular, with football teams emerging from the munitions factories in particular. Their popularity increased and matches attracted over fifty thousand supporters, whilst some teams achieved worldwide fame. The subsequent ban in 1921 had a devastating impact upon the women’s game but this does not diminish their incredible achievements at the time. You can read the full story on women footballers during the war on the IWM website here.

A football team of female employees of Palmers Shipbuilding Company Limited at Hebburn-on-Tyne called "Palmers Munitionettes" (Photo: Imperial War Museum)
A football team of female employees of Palmers Shipbuilding Company Limited at Hebburn-on-Tyne called "Palmers Munitionettes" (Photo: Imperial War Museum)

Play your part and leave a lasting legacy to the women who served in the war

Dedicate a tree at one of our Centenary Woods