23 APRIL 1942, Page 8



0 NE by one the strongholds of male isolation have been We rather thought in the Gunners that our bastions wo the last to fall, but we were mistaken, and when it was aim that girls were to be trained in the technical work of anti- batteries we were at first incredulous and then inclined to By chance I saw the first team of women to control the fire target at practice-camp. They were carefully selected and had Considerable experience of practice-camp conditions A instructor had trained them on the instruments in his and their time and the results were good but not, we felt, conclusive. was a year ago.

It was with considerable interest that I learnt a few weeks my posting to a training regiment where girls are instructed in duties as members of a mixed battery. In such a unit the girls the instrument detachments and the men the gun teams. I that almost all my forebodings were without foundation and girls were .most promising. The instructors seem generally of opinion that the girls pick up the work quicker than men di in a different way. The men learn their duties by the disci of an exact drill. The girls learn it in a way of their own. Th apt to get depressed when they find technical matters facing such as they have never previously experienced. Any impati brusqueness with them at this stage would result m tears deSpondency. The instructors therefore take care to assure the that with patience and without worrying the subject can be mast In a week or so the girls find that their tasks become clear to and they are then, to use their own expression; "On top of job." On the parade-ground their drill is exceptionally good hold themselves well and march with a short, precise step. Well-fitting battle-dress gives them a soldierly appearance. bearing and turn-out is all that could be desired.

It is strange, indeed, how soon one becomes accustomed to upon them as soldiers ; soldiers of rather a special kind of cou soldiers fitting themselves to take a vital part in the defence of country. The bad weather we experienced a few weeks ago d seem to hay: affected the women to the extent that might have expected. The sickness percentage is low and the Medical informs me that most of her sick parades are chiefly concerned foot trouble. A good deal of this is probably due to the shoes in civil life, but it is brought to a head by marching drill. feet soon harden up and the girls love drill. It is a sight as ?e ing as it is novel to watch the evident enjoyment of a squad 01 on marching drill, and the zest with which tney move as one the parade ground. I do not remember noticing this same de the faces of men soldiers throughout my years of service but they were more adept at concealing their feelings. The sve battle-dress for work has been an excellent idea. It has mad girls feel, I am sure, that on the gun-park there is no differen made between 'themselves and their male comrades.

The reports from the gun sites of their work have been satisfa Since the mixed batteries were. first formed there has been enemy activity over this country, and consequently they have little opportunity of proving themselves in action. No one that when the time comes they will do so abundantly. The W women as ambulance drivers, nurses, A.R.P. personnel and is beyond praise, and what they have done, so will the gunner do. In a mixed battery the women officers, though primarily cerned with the administration of the women and their =H- are being trained in .-ra operational role, so that they can release men colleagues for other work. The responsibility for dir operations is, however, in the hands of the military officers.

These women officers are a good lot. With the thorn attention to detail and loyalty of women they look after that in every way. The jibes one has heard about the behaviour A.T.S. are so false as to be ludicrous. No mother need he of entrusting her daughter to a gunner unit ; she will be very well vided 'for. Most of the officers, and all the junior ones. hare through the ranks and know well the special needs and p