Women & War: From the Fringes to the Front Line is a new exhibition to tell the stories of women in the armed forces opening on 03 June to 10 September 2023 at Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock.
The exhibition will explore the diverse experiences of women who have been involved with all aspects of military life, from the ‘fringes’ of history to those now taking on frontline roles in the armed forces today – using unique, personal stories, pen portraits of women in historical and modern roles feature throughout.
Several objects, on loan from individuals and organisations that have also shared their stories for the exhibition, will go on show at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum for the first time.
These include an Air Transport Auxiliary jacket which belonged to Mary Watkins of Leafield, Oxfordshire, who took her flying lessons in Witney. She was the youngest pilot in the county when she began in 1937. Her story will be told with thanks to Maidenhead Heritage Centre and ATA Museum.
A series of letters and a pair of officer’s gloves belonging to Rev. Elsie Chamberlain, on loan from the Royal Army Chaplains’ Museum, help illustrate the story of the first female Chaplain in the RAF, whose appointment sparked protest from both the RAF and the Church of England in 1946. Her name was originally excluded from RAF lists, and her service was concealed.