Women have always played an important part in the armed forces, and their military history reaches as far back as four hundred years. Of course, four hundred years ago, women were not allowed to fight, and in many countries that is still the case today. Women have been most well associated with the role of a nurse, treating wounded soldiers on and off the battlefield. There were some instances, however, such as in the Civil War, when women disguised themselves as men in order to fight.
During the First World War, Russia set up a few women's battalions, but sadly it did not last; after only a year, the battalions were disbanded. By World War Two, however, there were over five hundred thousand women in combat roles, including anti-aircraft units in Britain and Germany, and front-line units in Russia. Today in Britain, men and women fight alongside one another, but there is still a long way to go before they are on an equal footing.
Between the 19th February - 13th April, you can learn more about women's roles in the armed forces at the Firepower Royal Artillery Museum. In their exhibition, A Woman's Place, you will get to explore the vital role of women serving in the British Army during World War Two and currently in Afghanistan. There will be a unique display of historical artefacts and coloured photographs that were taken by the photojournalist, Alison Baskerville. She followed female soldiers out on patrol in 2012 while they were on duty, trying to gain the trust of Afghanistan's rural communities.
The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday between 10am – 5pm, and admission costs £5.30 for adults, £4.60 concessions, and £2.50 for children.