The Women’s Voluntary Services (WVS) was established in 1938 by Stella Isaacs, the Dowager Marchioness of Reading. The Women's Voluntary Service was to act as a support unit for the ARP and the ‘terms’ of its work was set out in the Air Raid Precautions Act, which came into being on January 1st 1938.

In response to the government’s request, on May 16th, 1938, the government set out the objectives of the WVS:

It was seen “as the enrolment of women for Air Raid Precaution Services of Local Authorities, to help to bring home to every household what air attack may mean, and to make known to every household in the country what it can do to protect itself and the community.”

The WVS was a voluntary organisation, so no one held a specific rank at a local level. If someone existed as a group leader for a certain task one week, she could simply be part of a team with another group leader the next week but for a different task.

As a voluntary body, the WVS did not have a compulsory uniform, many WVS members went about their work simply wearing a WVS badge on their lapels.

The work of the WVS covered a very broad spectrum. Lady Reading had a simple philosophy for the WVS – if the job needed doing, it was done!




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