Women first joined the Army in 1917 when the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was formed. They were employed as cooks, waitresses, clerks, telephone operators, store-women, bakers and even cemetery gardeners during the First World War (1914-18), freeing up male soldiers from non-combat duties.
The corps was disbanded in 1921, but later inspired the formation of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1938. Women were still not allowed to fight. But they undertook a wider range of jobs during the Second World War (1939-45), working as drivers, radar operators, range finders, sound detectors, military police and ammunition inspectors.
In 1949, the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC) was formed, absorbing the remaining ATS personnel. It eventually included all female soldiers except for medical and veterinary staff, chaplains and nurses.
The WRAC was disbanded in 1992 and its women were integrated into the rest of the Army, although still restricted to support positions. It wasn't until 2018 that women were able to serve in all combat roles alongside their male colleagues.