Challenges on the Home Front, World War II.

Peggy Ellis join us today with the second edition of her book of stories written by World War II women. So much to learn here! Peggy’s giving away a signed paperback to one commenter (U.S. only). Thanks so much for honoring these women, Peggy!

From 1939 through the end of World War II in 1945, we learned war is not only bombs and battleships, firearms and foxholes. War demands support from people on the home front. That is the basis for Challenges on the Home Front, World War II.

Throughout history, women have held pivotal positions but too often without acknowledgement. This generation of women, through sheer determination, held the family together during the Great Depression and immediately accepted and conquered the challenge to hold their nation together during a devastating world war.

These women refused to revert to their subordinate role at the end of the war. With the support of President Harry Truman, they led the charge for gender equality which led to the equality movement of the 1970s and still affects us today.

From the time Germany and Japan declared war on Europe and the United States until total surrender in 1945, people who had dealt with the difficulties of the worldwide Great Depression now faced more deprivation and uncertainty. Women carried a major burden: the need to maintain their homes and families while taking the places men had formerly occupied in the workforce. 

To do this, they had to overcome the centuries-old belief that a woman’s place was only in the home. The term ‘Rosie the Riveter’ originally applied to women working in airplane factories but came to represent various previously all-male workforces.

Challenges offers stories from eight home frontsBelgium, England, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, The United States, Wales, and The West Indies. These first-person stories were written by individuals, not based on interviews. 

Fifteen-year-old Miss Junior Red Cross Marie cared for wounded soldiers in a veterans’ hospital; at sixteen, Lucy earned silver wings as an official plane spotter; Ann was the first female to join the boilermakers’ union; Ardis taught sailors how to bake. Billie gives us unforgettable poetry. Challenges contains many more stories of women whose efforts still affect our lives today.

I have tremendous respect for a generation of women, my writers’ group helped me meet my dream of giving voice them. We contacted people we knew who had lived in other countries during the war. I emphasize that these individuals wrote their own stories

I originally prepared this for Women’s History Month, but some entries come from men—I only specified no battle stories. This second edition contains the original, including era photographs and additional stories. On a 2019 cruise, one of the speakers was a British authority on WWII, and my conversations with him enhances this edition.

Perhaps these stories will encourage you to research your family’s experiences during the years when women took on new challenges and proved themselves, indeed, to be “The Greatest Generation” as newsman Tom Brokaw labeled them.

This year, Peggy Lovelace Ellis celebrates fifty years as a writer and freelance editor. She continues both professions. She has published in many nationally-distributed magazines, had a regular column in the RPG Digest, ezine and print for 15 years, and published in the Divine Moments series, Merry Christmas Moments (2017), Christmas Stories (2020), and Broken Moments (2021). For four years, she produced and edited a 15-page monthly periodical for local readership. She compiled and edited three anthologies for her writers’ group: Challenges on the Home Front World War II (Chapel Hill Press, 2004; Second Edition, 2020), Lest the Colors Fade (Righter Books, 2008), and A Beautiful Life and Other Stories (Righter Books, 2010). Each contains her short fiction, memoirs, and research. She also published a book of her own short stories, Silver Shadows, Stories of Life in a Small Town (2021).

www.peggyellis.com

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22 thoughts on “Challenges on the Home Front, World War II.

  1. I appreciate all the work involved in compiling these incredible stories from women who gave so much during those dark days of WWII. In 1939 my mother-in-law young and married only 2 months, was evacuated from Manchester when her new husband went off to fight. In the relative safely of the countryside and far from family and friends, she worked as a mail carrier for Royal Mail. Thank you, Peggy, for the opportunity to win Challenges on the Home Front WWII.

  2. Peggy, how do I get a copy of this? I really enjoyed the one you sent me earlier, and now my children are reading it. I am soo proud of you, cousin!

  3. Hi, Billie Faye, I’ll send you one, as cousin to cousin. I thought I had already sent one to my relatives I’m in close touch with. For anyone else who wants to know, Challenges is available on Amazon. Thanks for commenting, Billie Faye!

  4. I’m so excited for you, Peggy! I’ve benefitted from your editorial skills for many years and I loved Challenges. My aunt shared many stories from her time supporting her family of young daughters while my uncle fought across the sea. I’m not sure I have the courage and determination those women had.

    Now I need to read your other books. I know they will be just as enjoyable.

  5. Thanks, Sherry! I appreciate your kind words. I truly wish I’d had access to your aunt’s memories. Both editions are confined to people I knew or were known to members of my writers’ group. There are hundreds of thousands of stories still untold of the courageous women who paved the way for the rest of us.

  6. This book sounds like the type of material I can use in Mid-Week Moments at our church. Inspirational true accounts are always pertinent to our group of seniors. Thank you for collecting these stories.

  7. Sounds like a wonderful book, Peggy. Your blog brings back memories of my mother. She was an American war bride, marrying in 1942, after my father’s National Guard unit had been called up to active duty. By the time he landed on the beaches of Normandy, she had two small children. She didn’t get to be “Rosie the Riveter” but she still demonstrated courage on the Home Front. Thank you for preserving stories of women from WWII. It’s important to remember their stories–women’s voices are so often ignored and forgotten.

    • Ignored and forgotten–that sums up the situation for too many women today. Your mother exemplified one point in my included research: stay-at-home mothers who faced those problems and too often also faced criticism from working mothers as not doing their part in the war effort. Thanks for sharing her story.

  8. Like many men of the day, my father enlisted in the service (Navy) after Pearl Harbor. And my mother joined the Coast Guard too. Fortunately for them, their stories were more about the tedium of war. Whether they lived through the drama of their day or the boredom of waiting for the war to end, we need to hear their stories.

    • Thanks, Nancy. “Challenges” also contains stories written by men in my writers group. I only specified no battle stories. I didn’t have a story about women in the Coast Guard, but I did include one written about the WAVES. Thanks for sharing your parents’ story.

  9. One thing that amazes me: the ability to contact disparate people and hear their stories. I don’t have a clue about how to find these individuals. I love real history and memoir, so this intrigues me.

    • Thanks, Carol. “Challenges” came into existence because I had always wanted to tell my mom’s story. My writers’ group pitched in with relish by telling their own stories and reaching out to people they knew. As Nancy Head pointed out in her comment, men had/have stories also which need to be known. Men in my writers’ group contributed several.

  10. Congratulations, Peggy. Cheers! The stories are great.
    I wish I were 10 years younger. I’d join you.
    Love you forever,
    Sybil Austin Skakle

    • Thanks, Sybil! You are a big part of why Challenges is such an interesting book. I don’t know if you’ve read the current, second edition, but there are additional stories I believe you will enjoy. For anyone else reading this comment, Sybil is a great poet in addition to her story of growing up on North Carolina’s outer banks.

  11. Nancy, I’m pleased you left a comment. I admire women of all generations, but especially the generation immediately preceding ours. Perhaps because I know them better. They led the way for us and we must lead the way in our turn. You certainly are with your care and leadership of seniors who face the uncertainties of aging. I’m looking forward to your second volume of Hope of Glory!

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