Series WO398 - Women's Army Auxiliary Corps service records

Identity area

Reference code

GB GB66 WO398


Women's Army Auxiliary Corps service records


  • 1917-1920 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

240 microform
Digital copies of these records can be searched and downloaded.

Context area

Name of creator

Name of creator

Archival history

The records were held along with other First World War service records at the War Office Record Store at Arnside Street and consequently suffered severe damage as the result of a German air raid in September 1940. About nine thousand women's files survived and these were stored by the Ministry of Defence in alphabetical order and later filmed under contract by the Public Record Office.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

from 1998 Ministry of Defence

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Contains records of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) later renamed Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps (QMAAC) comprising service records for women who served in the First World War and immediate post war period.

The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was formed following Lieutenant General H M Lawson's report of 16 January 1917 which recommended employing women in the army in France. Mrs Chalmers Watson became Chief Controller of the new organisation and recruiting began in March 1917, although the Army Council Instruction no 1069 of 1917 which formally established the WAAC was not issued until 7 July 1917.

Although it was a uniformed service, there were no military ranks in the WAAC; instead of officers and other ranks, it was made up of 'officials' and 'members'. Officials were divided into 'controllers' and 'administrators', members were 'subordinate officials', 'forewomen' and 'workers'. The WAAC was organised in four sections: Cookery, Mechanical, Clerical and Miscellaneous; nursing services were discharged by the separate Voluntary Aid Detachments, although eventually an auxiliary corps of the Royal Army Medical Corps was set up to provide medical services for the WAAC.

In appreciation of its good services, it was announced on 9 April 1918 that the WAAC was to be re-named 'Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps' (QMAAC), with Her Majesty as Commander-in-Chief of the Corps. At its height in November 1918, the strength of the QMAAC was more than 40,000 women, although nearly 10,000 women employed on Royal Flying Corps air stations had transferred to the Women's Royal Air Force on its formation in April 1918. Approximately, a total of 57,000 women served with the WAAC and QMAAC during the First World War. Demobilisation commenced following the Armistice in November 1918 and on 1 May 1920 the QMAAC ceased to exist, although a small unit remained with the Graves Registrations Commission at St Pol until September 1921.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by surname

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Available in digital format unless otherwise stated

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

For the Army Council Instruction which formally established the WAAC see WO 293/7

Related descriptions

Publication note

Further information on the WAAC can be found in Arthur Marwick, 'Women at War, 1914-1918' (London, 1977).

Notes area

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Archivist's note

Aleksandra Pawliczek, FUB

Accession area