Other jobs Part I


Factory workers

Many women decided that they would work in a factory; they did all sorts of work, such as making ammunitions, uniforms and aeroplanes. They worked very long hours; some women had to move to the towns and cities where the factories were and those that did were paid more money. Skilled women could earn 2 pounds and 3 shillings (£2.15 in today's money) a week which would have seemed a lot of money to them but men who did the same job would have been paid more. In fact, it was known for unskilled men to get more money than skilled female workers.  The women thought this was unacceptable and in 1943, women at the Rolls Royce factory in Glasgow went on strike. They did not get much public support and when they went on a march, eggs and tomatoes were thrown at them. However, when people found out how little the women were being paid, they stopped throwing things at them. The strike did work as their pay went up.

Fixing track to a tank
Off to work we go

Making the Merlin engine at Rolls Royce


Secret agents

Women were also used as secret agents. They were members of the SOE (Special Operations Executive). Their work was exceptionally dangerous, if they slipped up it could lead to capture, torture and ever death. Their work was to find as much information as they could to support the Allies for the planned landings in Normandy in June 1944. The most famous female SOE members were Violette Szabo and Odette Sansom; both of them were awarded the George Cross for the work they did (the George Cross is the highest bravery award that a civilian can get). Both Odette and Violette were captured and tortured, Violette was murdered by the Gestapo (German Police).

In August 1942 Peter Churchill, a member of the SOE went to France were he set up the Spindle Network, Odette was recruited as the group’s radio operator. In April 1943 Odette and Peter Churchill were arrested, tortured by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp. They both survived the war and married each other in 1947 but divorced in 1955.

Odette Sansom
The George Cross
Violette Szabo


Here is some information on two films I've discovered on the internet about Odette and Violette.

/images/odette.jpgA classic tale of bravery and courage during WWII, Odette tells the true story of female war hero Odette Sansom. After volunteering her services to the Special Operations Executive, Odette is despatched into Nazi occupied France and thrown into an intense world of espionage. Whilst on a deadly mission working for the French Resistance her cover is blown and Odette is captured and interrogated by ruthless Gestapo officers. But even after being brutally tortured and sentence to death in a concentration camp Odette still refuses to reveal any information concerning her original mission and her fellow spies. A gripping and authentic depiction of the War effort and struggle, Odette features a truly captivating performance from popular British actress Anna Neagle (School For Scandal, The Lady With The Lamp) in one of her most iconic and memorable roles. Also starring Trevor Howard (The Third Man) and Peter Ustinov (Death On The Nile).


The moving and dramatic story of Violette Szabo (McKenna), a courageous WW2 secret agent who was captured in northern France... Carve Her Name With Pride is the inspiring true life story of Violette Szabo. During World War II, Violette (Virgina McKenna) volunteers to parachute into France as a secret agent to aid a Resistance group. Her mission successful, she joins the Resistance, where she stays until captured by the Germans. Tortured by the Gestapo for information, she refuses to betray her comrades... Directed by Lewis Gilbert, Carve Her Name With Pride is a moving tale about the endurance of the human spirit in even the most adverse circumstances.