Celebrating the achievements of Yorkshire's first female conscripts - whose World War Two service was often overshadowed by men's

Women's wartime efforts can too often be overshadowed despite their determination and sacrifice through the Second World War.

December 8 marks 80 years since Britain's only ever instance of female conscription,and now the firsthand accounts of some of the last living servicewomen are finally being told.

Among them are a 103-year-old woman from York who recounts the sounds of the doodlebugs, and a 101-year-old trained in Bradford who was the first Briton to hear of the D-Day landings.

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Helen Jewitt has lived in York since the 1940s, having met her husband while on military service

As their memories are shared, the charity which supports them has spoken of a nation's gratitude, both for their service and for the boundaries they were to break.

Paula Rogers is chief executive of the Women’s Royal Army Corps Association (WRACA). She said: "You will rarely find a woman's name on a war memorial, yet they served their country so well in the war.

"It's wonderful to have this opportunity to show they did serve. It was a massive contribution.

"This anniversary should mark a thank you to them for all that they did. They laid the foundations for women to come."

The centenarian feels women's wartime service needs more recognition

In 1941 a National Service Act was passed allowing for the conscription of women, provided at first that they were childless widows or single women under the age of 30. For many, they were already serving in roles deemed 'essential' as they 'filled in' for men on the frontline.

Helen Jewitt was one such woman, working as a butcher in Scotland when she received her call-up papers in 1942. Now aged 103, and still living in York where met her husband Denis on her final posting, she has shared her memories of that time.

Defying the rules she had told her seniors she was 'merely an assistant', and was therefore allowed to enrol, serving for three years as a cook in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). Mrs Jewitt tells of how, on hearing the doodlebugs overhead, she had waited for the engine to cut out before running for shelter, and she remembers a messenger arriving with the first plans and diagrams of the bomb.

One of her postings was to Whitby Abbey, cooking for the men who were monitoring enemy activity on the North Sea.

Towards the end of her time in the ATS, Helen was posted up to York to work in stores. Here she was tasked with clothing the men who were being demobbed, learning to guess their sizes by eye, and collecting in all their old uniforms - they were allowed to keep only their underwear.

In the NAAFI she socialised with Poles, Canadians and Free French fighters, and it was there she met conscripted military policeman Denis Jewitt, from Middlesbrough. She and her friends were playing a card game which they had to conceal from him, but they got talking and kept in touch when he was posted to Africa. They went on to have five children, with one of her daughters later serving in the Royal Navy. Helen herself was demobbed in 1946, despite wanting to remain in the forces.

Dora Cudlipp, aged 101, had determinedly accepted her brief when she was called up as a clerk. She served a "happy wartime" in Oxford, today considering herself very lucky to have done her duty.

Marge Barton is now 101. Having trained partly in Bradford, she recalls bitter winters living in a Nissen hut, with washing facilities in a field nearby, and the flat caps and tunics with brass buttons that trainees wore. She was the operator who received the teleprinter message on June 6, 1944, to say that British troops had landed on the Normandy beaches.

Their stories have been shared by the women and their families to mark today's anniversary, and to highlight the charity work which is still underway through the WRACA.

Ms Rogers, honouring the efforts of women in all wars, said it was wonderful to see these stories shared in celebrating the efforts of those who served.

She said: "A lot of people don't realise the work these women did. A lot of female veterans don't see themselves as veterans. That is really important, to inspire that next generation.

"There was an element even then, that men were going to war and they wanted to do their bit. They were proud to be a part of that."

Monica Jones, of Birkenshaw, served with WRAC for 17 years on postings to the Falklands, Northern Ireland and Germany, retiring as a colonel and is now a trustee of the charity.

She said it is "fantastic" to see the service of women who played a significant role in the Second World War honoured today, on the 80th anniversary of conscription.

She said: "When we hear about veterans, we think of men with a chest full of medals. These are women made of such resilience and determination. They weren't second fiddle to the men, what they did was really important."

The WRAC Association supports all women who served in the ATS and WRAC, and offers support, camaraderie and benevolence. Find out more at www.WRACA.org.uk