Jambusters: The Story of the Women’s Institute in the Second World War

Written by Julie Summers
Review by Cathy Kemp

This has been a fascinating read. Not only does it cover the contributions made by members of the National Federation of Women’s Institute which are well known by many, but it also encompasses all the extra tasks they undertook during a time when they had to take on the role of absent men folk, as well as government initiatives for which there was little reward. Following the lives of some NFWI members through their diaries and personal communications gives a realism that would be difficult to conjure from history books. It shows a dedication by ordinary women to make the best of what were extremely difficult circumstances, such as housing evacuees at short notice whilst continuing with the austerity imposed by severe rationing of food, clothing and petrol. Personally, I felt that our current “austerity” in Britain amounts to an insignificance by comparison, and that society today could learn a huge lesson from these women’s experiences and how they managed to “make do and mend”.