Thursday, November 29, 2007

Books by members of the MTC

* What a Way to Win a War! The Story of No11 Coy. MTC and 5-0-2 MAC, ATS 1940-1945 by Pat Hall

What a Way to Win a War! tells the story of a company of women ambulance drivers who contributed a small but unique part to the colourful history of the Second World War in Egypt and Italy.

The story, as seen through the eyes of the Company Sergeant Major, is followed from the first hair-raising parade in Chester Square, London.

The bulk of the book covers the transformation of these naïve amateurs into a highly professional unit which won the respect of all ranks of the army with whom they worked.

UK Midas Books 1978 (ISBN: 0 85936 136 5)

* Spearette by Rachel Millet

When the Second World War broke out Rachel Millet (née Howell-Evans), a qualified children's nurse, was head matron at a boys' preparatory school. France fell, and she decided to join the Mechanised Transport Corps as a driver. Hearing that the Hadfield-Spears Hospital - somewhere in the Middle East with the Free French forces - needed drivers, she applied and was accepted

Spearette (the French nickname for a Hadfield-Spears girl) tells the story of Rachel Millet's adventures as a driver and nurse with the Hospital. Having travelled across the desert with the Eighth Army, and through Italy, she became an honorary Commando to land on the south coast of France preparatory to the main invasion.

Spearette is an intensely immediate and exciting story, with a distressing ending as the petulant General de Gaulle peremptorily ordered the Hospital to be disbanded because the crowds at the Paris Victory Parade dared to cheer: 'Vive Spears!'

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

MTC officially recognised, recruits training and Awards

Short outline of how the MTC was officially recognised plus an outline of recruits training and some photos and a list of Gallantry and Awards is in this extract from Women in Uniform By D. Collett Wadge

How the MTC started

Got to the following link to see an extract reproduced from "The British Home Front 1939-45" By Martin J. Brayley

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This blog has been started on Sunday 11th November 2007 - Remembrance Day - to try and collect information about the women who joined the MTC in WWII.

There seems to be no public record of their contribution and no official archive or memorial.

A few years ago there were a few personal recollections recorded on family web sites, but many of these have disappeared as these web sites are no longer maintained.

The wikipedia entry implies that the women only drove in London (and/or the UK) however it would seem that there were groups of MTC drivers in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as France:

The very first official RAF escapers cannot claim much credit for their remarkable escape. ... In the Troyes district the convoy was turned back due to an expected counterattack and on returning to Villenauxe, as the convoy was directed to turn left, driver Otto turned right, followed by a second ambulance driven by Miss Marjorie Juta. The two ambulances continued at high speed through enemy territory until they reached French lines and safety back at Provins where Barrett and his crew were left at the hospital and the ambulances returned to their Headquarters. Barrett was later evacuated from France by sea from La Baule whilst Asker and Kirk rejoined their squadron. The three women belonged to the British Mechanised Transport Corps and were members of the Chateau de Blois Ambulance Corps which had five ambulances given to the French by American donors in Palm Beach. They later took their vehicles to Bordeaux then Arcachon and were evacuated from Arcachon on board the cruiser HMS Galates 21 June. (from

It is said that after France was liberated women from this group of the MTC were given a place of honour in the parade on the Champs Elysee.

Two young women from the MTC who had been regulary driving between Egypt and Palastine were said to be the last members of the Allies to leave Cario before the German advance. Later women from this group were awarded the Africa Star although apparently this was later taken away from them by the post war Labour Government.

If anyone has any information whether from family members or from research of officials records please do add then to this blog.