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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 21:13 GMT
Tracing the last WWII heroines
Wartime recruitment poster for the Auxiliary Territorial Service
Many women played key roles in winning the war
A search has begun to find Britain's surviving World War II heroines before a monument to them is unveiled in July.

Former Commons speaker Betty Boothroyd launched the appeal on Sunday, five months before the 1m monument is installed on London's Whitehall.

While no female George Cross holders are still alive, there were nearly 40 women who won the George Medal.

Former Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents who were parachuted into occupied France are also being sought.

The 22ft (6.7m) high monument by sculptor John Mills shows the uniforms and working clothes women wore hanging side by side.

Lady Boothroyd, who is patron of the Memorial to Women in World War II Fund, launched the "Hunt the Heroines" appeal on Sunday.

Full list of women sought

The whereabouts of two women was already known, and by Tuesday, five had been traced, 15 were reported to have died and 18 are still being sought.

Lady Boothroyd said it was a chance to pay tribute to "the sacrifice and endurance of our wartime heroines in uniform and on the home front".

She added: "One veteran's son wrote to say that although his mother had driven a makeshift ambulance in the Blitz and served in the fire service during the rocket attacks, she received no thanks.

"On July 9 at 3pm, we shall put that right - for her, and the millions of women like her."

Among those whose whereabouts are known is New Zealand-born Nancy Wake, 92, the most-highly decorated woman of World War II who is still alive.

Nancy Wake and Cate Blanchett at the premiere of Charlotte Gray
Nancy Wake is among those women being honoured

Nicknamed "The White Mouse" by the Gestapo, she is credited with saving hundreds of Allied lives after joining the resistance between 1940 and 1942.

She was awarded the George Medal, the Croix de Guerre three times, the Resistance Medal, the American Medal of Freedom and was made an officer of the Legion of Honour.

Two years after conscription for women was introduced in 1941, 90% of single women aged 20 to 30 were working in factories, on the land or in the services.

About 640,000 worked in the armed forces, 55,000 served with guns and provided air defence, thousands joined the Land Army, flew unarmed aircraft, drove ambulances, became nurses or worked behind enemy lines.

Another George Medal holder is Gillian Wilton-Clarke, who delivered petrol to fire pumps on 20 and 21 September 1940, while the docks were being bombed in London.

Mrs Wilton-Clarke, 85, of Lampeter, mid-Wales, said: "I cannot think how we got away with it."

Anyone who can help trace the women below is asked to call the Fund on 020 7430 0443 and leave a short message.

Others on the "most wanted" list and the dates and places where they won their award are:

  • Dr Laura Bateman, Shooters Hill, London, 29 Jan 1941
  • Mary Beardshall, Coventry, 8-9 April 1941
  • Margaret Brown, Coventry, 10-11 April 1941
  • Dorothy Gardner, Hastings 7-8 March 1941
  • Emily Knee, Exeter, 4 May 1942
  • Patricia Marmion, Islington, London 11 September 1940.
  • Dr Allison McNairn, Plymouth, 20-21 March 1941
  • Mary Newman, Southampton, 23 November 1940
  • Marion Patterson, Aberdeen, 7 August 1942
  • Marjorie Perkins, Coventry, 14-15 November 1940
  • Betty Quinn, Coventry, 19 October 1940
  • Grace Rattenbury, Rotherhithe, London, 7 September 1940
  • Violet Reid, Montrose, Angus, 2 October 1940
  • Ruby Rosser, Grove Park, London 19 Nov 1940
  • Maude Steele, Sherborne, Dorset, 30 September 1940
  • Elise Stevens, Bristol, 16-17 March 1941
  • Sonia Straw, Caterham, Surrey, 1 Sep 1940;
  • Aileen Turner, Grove Park, London, 19 November 1940

    Home Front veterans are honoured
    19 Jan 05 |  England


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