A.T.S. Family Tree

(A.T.S. Remembered)

Family Tree

The roots of the A.T.S. are firmly embedded in the First World War, when for the first time women officially took up service with the Army.

During the First World War there were several unofficial groups of women who operated in a semi-military style with the aim of supporting the men at the front. Towards the latter part of the 'war to end all wars' three official women's services were in operation - the WRAF (Women's Royal Air Force) which started in April 1918 with around 32,000 members, the WRNS (Women's Royal Naval Service) which started in November 1917 with 5,000 members and the WAAC (Women's Auxiliary Army Corps) with 63,000 members, 10,000 of whom served in France. In all a total of 100,000 women operated in those three services.

Some of these official and unofficial groups fed into the start of the A.T.S. in World War Two.

First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (F.A.N.Y.)

Started in 1909, initially as horsewomen whose aim was to ride into battle a pick up wounded, but who became Ambulance Drivers.

The name of the service was changed to Women's Transport Service F.A.N.Y. in 1933

Although in 1938 F.A.N.Y. was merged with other units into the A.T.S. they continued to operate a private service as well and actually still exist in the 21st century


Women's Legion

Started in 1915, initially as cooks and waitresses but ultimately had a strong Motor Transport section. This was a private society inaugurated by Lady Londonderry and hired by the War Department. It had 6,000 members.

Women's Volunteer Reserve (W.V.R.)

Started in 1914 this was a part time group, many of whom joined the W.A.A.C.

Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (W.A.A.C.)

The W.A.A.C. started in January 1917. it was initiated by Brigadier A.C. Geddes (Director of Recruiting, War Office) when he consulted his sister Mrs Chalmers-Watson regarding a women's service attached to the Army and following a Conference of Women's Societies. Mrs Chalmers-Watson became the senior officer of the new Corps with the title of Chief Commander.

Helen Gwynne-Vaughan was a friend of Mrs Chalmers-Watson's cousin (Louie Garrett Anderson) and was offered the position of Chief Controller Overseas. These ranks were equivalent to Lieutenant-Colonel.

The W.A.A.C. received royal patronage and changed its name to Queen Mary's Auxiliary Army Corps (Q.M.A.A.C.) on 9 April 1918.

The Q.M.A.A.C. was disbanded on 27 September 1921.

(new) Women's Legion

Lady Londonderry was asked to form a new women's service in July 1934 which initially started as the (new) Women's Legion but due to the confusion with the original private Women's Legion which was still operating, the name was changed to Emergency Service in 1936.

Women's Auxiliary Defence Service was proposed on 23 June 1938 and this was made up of the
Women's Legion (MT Section)
the Emergency Service
and the Women's Transport Service (F.A.N.Y.)

The name of this combined service was changed and on 9 September 1938 the

Auxiliary Territorial Service (A.T.S) came into being.


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