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Army Girls: Tessa Dunlop and the women of WWII

June 24, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Event details

Historian, writer and broadcaster Dr Tessa Dunlop shares the intimate stories of those women who served in World War II and are still alive to tell their tale – with veteran Barbara Weatherill joining us at St. Peter’s for this event.

Commemorating the 80th anniversary of conscription for women, with an extra special nod to fellow Army Girl and driver HM Queen Elizabeth in her Jubilee year, 96-year-old Barbara will explain how, aged 17, she left the Yorkshire Dales and joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service. She trained in Camberley where Princess Elizabeth did a similar course (‘Well yes, but remember HRH did a truncated version!’) and worked on British anti-aircraft gun sites for two years.

Tessa will help locate Barbara’s extraordinary story in the broader wartime context when thinking on women in the military was overturned, and thousands of teenage girls served King and country in uniform. Together they will bring to life a pivotal moment in British history.

Barbara was amongst female soldiers in a war Britain wanted to fight without conscripting women. It was a vain hope, as by December 1941, for the first time in British history, women were called up, leading a generation of girls to come of age in khaki, serving king and country.

In her new book and at the event Tessa entwines precious memories and letters in a rich narrative that travels back in time and sheds new light on being young, female and at war.

Uniquely, Tessa embeds the stories of these former female soldiers in the present-day context of the global pandemic, highlighting the parallels and paradoxes between two very different national crises. Come along to hear about and honour the women who fought on in extreme youth and now once more in great old age.

There will be a pop-up bookshop and complementary wine & nibbles after the talk.

If you have access or hearing needs please book and also get in touch with events@stpetersyork.org.uk so we can look after you fully.

Book sales

You can buy copies of many of our speakers’ books from Fox Lane Books, a local independent bookseller and Festival partner. In some cases, author signed bookplates are available too.


About the speaker

Dr Tessa Dunlop is an award-winning broadcaster and historian. She has appeared many times on BBC TV and Channel 5 programmes, including ‘Coast’ and ‘Inside Out’. She received the Gertrude Easton History prize whilst at Oxford University, got a 1st in her MA: Imperialism and Culture and has recently completed her PhD.

St Peter’s School

St Peter’s School, York, is the fourth oldest school in the world and one of the country’s leading schools. St Peter’s academic results are outstanding but they believe that independent thinking and a love of learning are just as important as excellent grades. At St Peter’s there is a real focus on developing intellectual curiosity in the classroom and beyond with pupils and staff being members of a vibrant learning community.

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June 24, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


York Festival of Ideas


Location:In-person only St Peter’s School, Clifton
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