[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Saturday, 5 April, 2003, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
Women play vital war roles
Woman soldier in the Gulf
The women are not allowed on the front line but provide vital support
They are outnumbered between 30 and 40 to one but women serving with the armed forces in the Gulf are playing a vital role.

Although not permitted in front line combat, women soldiers are everywhere else and enduring exactly the same hardships as the men.

Among them are jet engineers, bomb delivery lorry drivers, chefs and fighter command staff.

They live in tents and endure such hardships as beetles said to be the size of cigarette packets and scorpions and lizards.

Gas masks

Corporal Katherine McNaught, from Lower Cumberworth, Huddersfield, is used to wearing her chemical suit, gas mask and hood after air raid warnings.

"The blokes don't treat us any different and I really like male company but I am not one of the lads and never will be," she said.

"I supply all the Harriers with spares. Whenever they break down I order new parts and make sure they are flown over straight from the UK. I am very good at my job, smooth supply is vital to keep the planes flying."

She added: "I don't like war, no-one wants to kill anyone and no-one likes death but I don't have a problem firing my gun and I would if I had to."

We are not on the front line so we do not go out killing people
SAC Jo Davies

Senior Aircraftman Caroline Richards, 22, from Camborne, Cornwall, drives heavy lorries loaded with bombs around secret destinations in the desert.

"I joined at 17 because I had a thing about driving trucks and it was a good way to get a driving licence.

"I have seen the pictures of women and children injured in the market place bomb in the papers but I can't afford to think about it now because the job wouldn't get done."

SAC Jo Davies, 20, from Doncaster, is one of four women flight line technicians with the British Harrier Force out of a total of 160.

Jet engines

She said: "I joined up as an engine technician because I wanted to fix jet engines and I love it.

"We are not on the front line so we do not go out killing people for no reason and I understand that is the end result of my work in preparing jets for bombing missions but I believe this is a just war."

SAC chef Jo Gemmell, 18, from Gosport, admits she burst into tears when she got her call-up signal.

"I joined up at 17 to learn how to cook and become a chef and then 12 months later I got my signal to go to war.

"It was a shock," she said. "I was the first caterer to get it and I cried.

"I never guessed war would break out so soon and they would want me to go.

"Out of 40 people who all started basic training with me only 23 passed out and I was one of only three girls left out of nine so I was very proud and I knew I had the staying power so I did my duty and went to the Gulf."

  • This is pooled copy from Paul McMullan, of the Sunday Express, with the British Harrier force in the Gulf.

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
    UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
    Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific