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11 Photos Celebrating Women Workers of World War I

While you’ve probably seen hundreds of images of women working in factories during World War II, that wasn’t the first time women joined the workforce to help fill in for the millions of men sent out to fight. In fact, many people credit the freedoms given to women during The Great War for both women’s suffrage and the popularity of both the lifestyle and fashion of the flapper.

The impact of women going off to work was more pronounced in certain countries. For example, the UK joined the war in 1914 while the US waited until 1917 to enter the fray, meaning the United Kingdom had far more need for women to enter the workforce to fill in for the missing soldiers. In many cases, women from all countries involved even volunteered to enter the service as non-combative soldiers. There they would be assigned a variety of duties; for example, this image, taken by John Warwick Brooke in 1916, features women serving in Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps (QMAAC) who were asked to build wooden huts out of old wooden crates to provide shelters on the front lines.

The women of the QMAAC were resourceful and talented, as you can see in this image featuring the construction of a wartime workshop by volunteers. Thanks in part to these 1916 images by John Warwick Brooke, the corps did very well in World War I and, by the end, it had more than 57,000 female volunteers.

Women who volunteered weren’t just limited to working at the bottom ranks of the military, as this 1916 image by Ernest Brooks shows. Here is one woman who was promoted to be foreman of her division’s project. Yes, these women would only be put in charge of other women, but the fact that they could become supervisors of all-female teams was certainly a sign of respect.

Not all women on the front lines were part of the military though; many were volunteers offering their help to medical services such as the Red Cross. This woman served as an ambulance driver with the Voluntary Aid Detachment, an offshoot of the Red Cross. Unlike most ambulance drivers, though, those who operated the vehicles on the front lines had to know how to repair and service their cars, as you see this woman doing in this image by Ernest Brooks shot in 1916.

Similarly, while some women weren’t quite ready to work on vehicles themselves, they were eager to be trained about auto parts so they could help out in the vehicle parts warehouse. These QMAAC volunteers photographed by David McLellan in 1917 had to learn a lot about car parts, given that there was so little vehicle standardization at the beginning of the war, leaving them to memorize the parts for many different models and makes in order to operate efficiently in the warehouse.

Of course, some women did prefer to continue performing tasks they were already comfortable with – albeit on a much, much larger scale, like these women working to cook up enough food for all the men stationed at their base. While some of the women preparing the food would be volunteers from the Voluntary Aid Department or other such groups, many were simply civilians hired from the closest town, like these four women photographed by Ernest Brooks.

Since so much fighting took place in France and so many men left to fight in the war, women of the country were left doing much of the work – including uniform repair. In this image by John Warwick Brooke, seven women clean military boots with dirty water and brushes so they can be repaired.

After the first set of women cleaned the boots, a second team would then repair cracks in the boots’ leather and soles. Since the soldiers in the war spent most of their time in the trenches, their boots got pretty beat up and needed to be repaired regularly. The women working at this shop, set up on the Western Front, would service 30,000 pairs of boots a week.

Not all female volunteers were shipped off to the front lines. Some stayed behind to help the military from home, like these English women who worked in the British Naval yards to help build new vessels.

For many suffragettes, the war provided an opportunity to show that women were just as capable as men. The Women’s Defense League helped train, recruit, and employ women in war-related work such as telegraph operators, phone operators, and physical laborers during the war as a means to push forward the idea that women were entirely able to perform the same tasks as men, voting included.

Just as they would in WWII, women also filled in at factories back home in the States, although on a much smaller scale. Here you see a team of women wrapping rockets that would go on to be sent off to the front lines, as photographed by Irving Underhill.

If you're looking for more World War I history, our own Erik Sass is covering the events that led up to The Great War, exactly 100 years after they happened.

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Photographer's Amazing Snap of an Osprey Is Holding Two Big Surprises
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iStock

As a wildlife photographer, Doc Jon understands the importance of being in the right place at the right time. But it took getting home and really squinting at his own work to realize that he recently captured a “one-in-a-trillion shot” while taking a photo of an osprey in Madeira Beach, Florida. While demonstrating the power of his lens to a fellow beach-goer, Jon pointed his camera at an osprey flying about 400 feet above their heads, and snapped a quick photo.

“I started shooting and my settings were off,” Jon told Fstoppers. “I had no tripod. I was trying to hold it steady, but it was windy out," he said. "I could see the osprey had a fish, but it was far away. It wasn't until I got home, cropped in on it, lightened the shadows, and applied some sharpening that I suddenly saw. ‘Oh my god, that's a shark's tail.’ Then I saw the fish in its mouth and I knew it was going to go viral.”

Jon predicted correctly.

Photos courtesy of Doc Jon via Facebook

Jon’s photo, which has already been shared by thousands of people, features the osprey holding a shark, which is holding a fish—making it sort of like the photographic version of a turducken. News of Jon’s amazing photo spread after he posted it to his Facebook page and a local news station saw it. Since then, he told Fstoppers, he’s been receiving requests for interviews from as far away as Israel and India.

Of course, with all that exposure comes the inevitable question of authenticity. Fortunately, Jon is taking that part in stride.

"The fun part for me is some people are commenting that it's Photoshopped, and obviously, those people don't know the limitations of Photoshop," Jon told Fstoppers. "Then, other people are telling me I should have sold it instead of sharing it online. I'm laughing, because really, it's not a good photo. The photo itself kind of sucks. But it tells a great story and it's getting me a lot of recognition for my other work now."

[h/t: Fstoppers]

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Harry Trimble
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Delightful Photo Series Celebrates Britain’s Municipal Trash Cans
Harry Trimble
Harry Trimble

Not all trash cans are alike. In the UK, few know this better than Harry Trimble, the brains behind #govbins, a photo project that aims to catalog all the trash can designs used by local governments across Britain.

Trimble, a 29-year-old designer based in South London, began the series in 2016, when he noticed the variation in trash can design across the cities he visited in the UK. While most bins are similar sizes and shapes, cities make trash cans their own with unique graphics and unusual colors. He started to photograph the cans he happened to see day-to-day, but the project soon morphed beyond that. Now, he tries to photograph at least one new bin a week.

A bright blue trash can reads ‘Knowsley Council: Recycle for Knowsley.’
Knowsley Village, England

“I got impatient,” Trimble says in an email to Mental Floss. “Now there’s increasingly more little detours and day trips” to track down new bin designs, he says, “which my friends, family and workmates patiently let me drag them on.” He has even pulled over on the road just to capture a new bin he spotted.

So far, he’s found cans that are blue, green, brown, black, gray, maroon, purple, and red. Some are only one color, while others feature lids of a different shade than the body of the can. Some look very modern, with minimalist logos and city website addresses, Trimble describes, “while others look all stately with coats of arms and crests of mythical creatures.”

A black trash can features an 'H' logo.
Hertsmere, England

A blue trash can reads ‘South Ribble Borough Council: Forward with South Ribble.’
South Ribble, England

A green trash can with a crest reads ‘Trafford Council: Food and Garden Waste Only.’
Trafford, Greater Manchester, England

Trimble began putting his images up online in 2017, and recently started an Instagram to show off his finds.

For now, he’s “more than managing” his one-can-a-week goal. See the whole series at govbins.uk.

All images by Harry Trimble

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