Free French 'A.T.S.'

The War Illustrated, Volume 4, No. 84, Page 384, April 10, 1941.

The Corps Féminin Français, an organization which bears the same relationship to the Free French Forces of General de Gaulle as the A.T.S. does to the British Army, was formed on November 7, 1940. Its commandant is Mme. Simone Mathieu, the world-famous tennis champion. As soon as news of its formation was made public numbers of Frenchwomen residing in England hastened to join, and it was not long before the first contingent was sent for training to an A.T.S. camp.

After a period of initial training, mostly devoted to drill and the inculcation of military discipline, members are selected for special duties according to their aptitude. Those already trained in office and secretarial work are sent where there is most need of their services. Those who wish to train as nurses can follow special courses; others, with a mechanical bent, can serve as motor drivers and mechanics. There are instructional courses for those who wish to perfect their knowledge of the English language. Then there is always a need of cooks in the army, and what Frenchwomen does not know how to cook?

All sorts and conditions of women have joined the Corps Féminin Français. One woman, now a corporal, once directed a famous fashion house, employing many hands, which was destroyed in the autumn "blitz". Another was among the last of the refugees to leave Saint Jean-de-Luz. Some of them have lived in England for many years; others might never have seen England but for the war. But one and all are doing their bit, as Free Frenchwomen, to uphold the honour of their country and to play their part in the fight for Freedom by the side of those Frenchmen who refused to accept the bondage of Vichy.

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