The Women of Bletchley Park ... Ack-Ack girls

Women who fought the Luftwaffe go back in the fray for battle honours

Women who did military service in the Second World War are trying to establish the first national memorial to commemorate their work. Ack-ack girls, who nabbed anti - aircraft guns and searchlight batteries trying to stop enemy warplanes, are joining women who were involved in other military operations to seek formal recognition of their contribution to the war effort.

The female veterans want to raise £50,000 for a memorial comprising three bronze statues.

The Ack-ack girls belonged to the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) forerunner of the Women's Royal Army Corps.

Many were teenagers when they helped to service the big guns. Several were killed or injured during the Blitz.

The memorial will also commemorate the work of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and the Women's Royal Naval Service.

A former ATS gun commander, now living in Canada, put the idea for a memorial to a Ministry of Defence official, Major David Robertson. He found strong support among the Service associations. "Tens of thousands of women were involved in the Second World War, helping to defend our shores from the Luftwaffe and doodlebugs," said Maj Robertson. But people had been "very sniffy" about women being anywhere near the front line. "There are thousands of memorials in Britain that say 'to the men...' but don't mention the women. It was thought women should not be in battle and they had a lot of opposition. But on my battery, the women even fired the guns," he said.

Nick Hewitt, co-ordinator of the national inventory of war memorials at the Imperial War Museum, said it was sad that servicewomen had no national memorial. "Maybe the feeling at the end of the war was more upbeat. People were just glad it was over."

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