|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 15th August, 1941, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Fifty Smart Girls A.T.S. Recruiting Parade at Rushden
Fifty A.T.S. girls, swinging hands to shoulder height, marched smartly through Rushden on Thursday evening, asking Rushden girls to join them in service that will help to save the world.
This small parade made local history, because never before had women of the forces marched in Rushden. The local girls looked on with interest and followed their sisters in khaki to the grounds of Rushden Hall.
A second-lieutenant commanded the A.T.S. detachment; a burly sergeant-major represented the orthodox Army. The Band of the Northamptonshire Regiment gave an imposing lead, and the Rushden interests were represented by Coun. W. J. Sawford, vice-chairman of the Urban Council, and Mr. T. C. Percival, manager of the Rushden Employment Exchange, walking with Special Police Inspector Chamberlain and Special Sergt. Skeeles.
Girls of the A.T.S. drove a small transport convoy which completed the procession watched by many hundreds along the route from Spencer Park to the Hall.
At the park the male sergeant-major barked the girls to attention and Coun. T. W. Cox, J.P., chairman of the Urban Council, made an inspection of the trim khaki ranks.
Going to Get You
Addressing a large crowd from the band-stand, Mr. Cox welcomed the visitors and said that the campaign had been organised by the Ministry of Labour.
The chief speech was by Junior Commander Carlton-Coates, A.T.S., who said they were hoping in the national recruiting campaign to raise their number to 100,000 women.
“Our aim is rather high,” she declared, “but we are very determined that we are going to get you.”
There were jobs for everyone in the A.T.S. and every woman who joined released a man for fighting service. They wanted cooks, and those who were untrained would be trained so that they would not burn any more cakes. Orderlies would be trained as waitresses in Army and A.T.S. messes; clerks and telegraph operators were wanted.
With the Guns
Women now were working on the gun sites and doing a magnificent job there it had been proved that they were equal to the men. They also wanted convoy drivers, who went from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and women who would drive staff cars and ambulances.
“When you enlist,” continued Commander Carlton-Coates, “you go to a reception depot, and there you find the job you are most suited to. They will fit you out with clothes you won’t need any coupons; and if your feet have any peculiarity they will make shoes for you. Our cooks will try their cooking on you; the food is very varied and there is plenty of it.”
At their units the physical training would make them feel really fit. They would make friendships which would be carried on when the war was ended, and the social facilities and training would be of inestimable value in civilian life after the war.
After the War
When the day of demobilisation came, the women who had been in the Services would find they were well fitted to take jobs in civilian life, and they were the ones who were going to be considered first. It was also under consideration that the women who had given service would receive a gratuity.
The camps were fitted with all sorts of comforts; the Duchess of Northumberland had provided carpets on the floor, chintzes at the windows, and lots of things that make life happy.
“I am perfectly certain,” added the Commander, “that when the war is over we are going to be proud that the women of England did not let her down.”
Thanking all who had participated, Coun. Mrs. O. A. H. Muxlow said the parade was very smart indeed. She hoped that the local recruiting campaign would be a credit to the town, and that all the girls who could join would do so.
“I can give a personal testimony,” added Mrs. Muxlow, “to the way Rushden women work in the jobs they have done during the war. I know the younger women of Rushden will not let us down.”
The A.T.S. detachment left soon after the meeting to the strains of one of Kenneth Alford’s marches. A recruiting stand was opened at the grounds, and subsequent enrolments will be taken at the Rushden Employment Exchange.