Women Of World War Two Memorial
The Monument to the Women of World War II is a British national war memorial situated on Whitehall in London, to the north of the Cenotaph. It was sculpted by John W. Mills, unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II and dedicated by Baroness Boothroyd in July 2005.
Fundraising was conducted by a charitable trust set up for the purpose of establishing a memorial, with theNational Heritage Memorial Fund donating towards the project. Baroness Boothroyd also raised money on thegame show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
The idea for a memorial was raised with retired Major David McNally Robertson in 1997, who was informed that, while many countries had a national monument to the work that women undertook during the Second World War, the UK did not. Previous campaigns had only been limited to attempting to generate funds for a plaque in York Minster with Robertson, and former gunners Edna Storr and Mildred Veal leading the campaign. A fundraising trust was founded, with Baroness Boothroyd, Dame Vera Lynn and the Princess Royal joining. Boothroyd became patron of the trust, with Dame Vera and the Princess Royal becoming vice–patrons. The remaining vice–patrons were John Grogan, MP for Selby; Hugh Bayley, the MP for City of York;Baroness Finlay of Llandaff and Robert Crawford.
The National Heritage Memorial Fund gave £934,115 towards the cost of the memorial, while £800,000 was raised by Baroness Boothroyd who chose the fund as her selected charity when she appeared on the ITV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 2002. The remaining funds were raised by the Memorial to the Women of World War II Fund, a charitable fund based in York.
The initial design involved a female Air Raid Warden sheltering children; however, this was simplified until it became the final design. The bronze monument stands 22 feet (6.7 m) high, 16 feet (4.9 m) long and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide.The lettering on the sides replicates the typeface used on war time ration books. There are 17 individual sets of clothing and uniforms around the sides, symbolising the hundreds of different jobs women undertook in World War IIand then gave back for the homecoming men at the end of the war. These outfits include uniforms as worn by theWomen's Land Army, Women's Royal Naval Service, a nursing cape, a police overall and a welding mask.
The Queen has unveiled a sculpture in central London commemorating the courage and resilience of British women who served their country during the Second World War.
The bronze monument was dedicated to those "so capable in so many unexpected ways" by Baroness Boothroyd, patron of the Women of World War II trust.
Located in Whitehall, central London, close to The Cenotaph, the sculpture features 17 items of clothing depicting the various roles carried out by women during the war.
Baroness Boothroyd told the Queen and guests at the unveiling ceremony: "This monument is dedicated to all the women who served our country and to the cause of freedom, in uniform and on the home front."
She added: "I hope that future generations who pass this way will ask themselves: 'what sort of women were they?' and look at our history for the answer."
The unveiling of the statue was part of the events celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Amongst the invited guests were many women war veterans, some in uniform and others wearing summer hats with medals pinned to their dresses.
Also attending were Second World War forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn, Baroness Thatcher and Defence Secretary John Reid.
The continuing contribution of women in the forces was demonstrated by a booming fly-past of five military helicopters - Apache, Sea King, Lynx, Chinook and Merlin - all flown by female pilots from the three services.
Later, two Tornado F3 jets roared overhead, also with women at the controls.
Sculptor John Mills was inspired after seeing a 1940s photograph of a cloakroom at a dance hall.
Mr Mills, 72, from London and president of the Royal Society of Sculptors, said: "The picture just sparked an idea in my mind which I couldn't get away from.
"I was interested in the concept of these women hanging up their uniforms and going back to their normal lives after the end of the war."