10 Minute Blog: Lest We Forget, It Wasn’t All Men

Friday marked the 70th anniversary of VE Day, which meant that there was a temporary break from the four year depressathon that is marking the centenary of WWI (and has also included some rather depressing attempts to make that into a heroic story, instead of it being remembered, rightly, for a damned stupid war and a tragic waste of life).

That meant that this weekend Big Liz was out laying wreaths and meeting veterans who fought for her father. It’s times like this that the Royals do actually seem worth the hassle, because HRH definitely seems more fitting and well suited to the task than whichever ninny we’ve just elected.

HRH has ties to the past, she was there at the time, famously joining the parties and has a long historical link. David Cameron has none of that.

Whatever, while Queen Elizabeth II was out and about they probably kept the cameras away from the Women of World War II memorial because some idiot during the anti-austerity protests decided to write “F**k Tory Scum” and while I agree with the sentiment it was a terrible thing to do.

Hugely disrespectful and a major own goal for the anti-Tory lot, because any good that could have come from that protest has now been undermined because they can be dismissed as those yobs who don’t respect history and desecrate war memorials. Couldn’t they have found a better target? A bank or a Starbucks?

My first reaction to the news of the defacement was a mixed one, I was irritated by their stupidity and disgusted by the lack of respect, but also surprise.

There’s a Women of World War II memorial? I thought. I’d never heard of that.

The memorial

The memorial

Which is rather depressing because it was only unveiled 10 years ago, so I should have seen it being announced. But I didn’t and I had no idea of it’s existence. Which is depressing.

I know that it was mainly the blokes out there doing the fighting and dying, but war is an even handed and cruel thing and many women would have served bravely and given their lives in the war effort. And sadly, that is often diminished or utterly forgotten about. It’s a depressing sign of how little we value women’s contribution to history. In fact I recently had a Tumblr rant about some anti-feminist douche trying to wreck the “We Can Do It Poster”.

we can do it

You can read what I said here.

The fact is we all know about the men who gave their lives, as we should. We have documentaries, TV shows and films galore depicting the hell these men went through, but the story of the women are far less common. There was Land Girls and a US show about the women who made bombs, but after that I struggle.

Women were an important part of the war effort, serving to support the military (like this cool lady), or as nurses, or taking the place of the men who’d gone abroad in the factories and fields. Their contribution helped immensely and without it the war effort would have been all the tougher.

The Women of World War II memorial should have been unveiled with great fan fare, there should be wreaths laid on it during the televised memorials. The survivors should give us their stories, before they are lost in history.

Now, some might argue that I’m just poorly informed on these matters. That I should pay attention more, and that I’m seeing a problem where I shouldn’t. Maybe, but I have one response to that.

Before this week I didn’t know there was a memorial for the women, but I did know that we had a memorial for the animals that died in military service. I’d even seen pictures of it before and discussion about it.

animals in war

And if that doesn’t say a lot about how little we value and respect the contribution of women, then I don’t know what does.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 

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