::Women's Royal Air Force


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The WRAF on parade in London at the end of World War I, 1918

The Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) was the women's branch of the Royal Air Force. It existed in two separate incarnations, from 1918 to 1920 and from 1949 to 1994.

The first Women's Royal Air Force was an auxiliary organization of the Royal Air Force which was founded in 1918. The original intent of the WRAF was to provide female mechanics in order to free up men for service in World War I. However, the organization saw huge enrolment, with women volunteering for positions as drivers and mechanics and filling other wartime needs. This first WRAF was disbanded in 1920. The last veteran from this era was for a while thought to be Gladys Powers, who died in 2008, but Florence Green, who died in February 2012,<ref>World's last' WWI veteran dies, BBC News, 7 February 2012</ref> was subsequently found to be the last-known surviving WRAF veteran.<ref>108-year-old woman emerges as Britain's oldest first World War veteran, Nick Britten, Daily Telegraph, 16 January 2010</ref>

On 1 February 1949, the name was revived when the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, which had been founded in 1939, was renamed the Women's Royal Air Force. The WRAF and the RAF grew closer over the following decades, with increasing numbers of trades opened to women, and the two services formally merged in 1994, marking the full assimilation of women into the British forces and the end of the Women's Royal Air Force.

The Central Band of the WRAF, one of only two all-female bands in the British Armed Forces, was disbanded in 1972. Some of its musicians transferred to the Band of the Women's Royal Army Corps.

Women's Royal Air Force sections
Intro  Ranks  List of Commandants WRAF  List of Directors WRAF  See also  Notes  External links