The above oil painting is from a book, Women's Institute by Cicely McCall. The painting is entitled Evacuee Play centre. It shows children playing, and women taking care of the children in what looks like a village hall, decked out with gaily coloured bunting. The book is a snapshot of women's social history during WWII, a mothers story is one of the least published aspects of life during this period. It details the efforts women in the UK were making to support the war effort. Now I've been to Trafalgar Square and seen those metal Giants on their plinths - Generals, Colonels, Majors and Tommys. But I have never seen something erected to honour the women who took to the fields with shovels, took in other families children for years, set up communal village kitchens and foraged wool from hedgerows to knit socks and gloves for the troops. This book honours those women, it is their monument.
Reading about the efforts of these doughty women made me wonder, we've bought the Keep Calm poster, but if we had to, could we carry on as well as the women who went before?