Sir William Robertson’s (ex-Chief of the Imperial General Staff) 1921 View of Women Working at the War Office (including in A.G. 10 Medals Branch)


With 246 of the 608 A.G. 10 Staff in 1921 women (including the female typist grades), 247 if the Welfare Supervisor was also female, nearly 41% of A.G. 10’s workforce at its peak in 1921 were women or girls. The next biggest group in 1921 working in A.G. 10 were the male ex-soldier clerks grades who were ubiquitous in the War Office up until WW2. They made up 37% of the workforce (226 staff including the Superintending Clerk Thorley). A transcript of the 1921 War Office List entry for A.G. 10 can be found here.


Sir William Robertson was a former Chief of the Imperial General Staff (C.I.G.S.) between 1916-1918. It is interesting to note the argument he made in his speech reported by the Nottingham Evening Post and compare it what what happened to the employment of women in A.G. 10 between 1922-1924. The figures for female grades employed in A.G. 10 in 1922, 1923 and 1924 follow the article.

Robertson Speech About Women at the War OfficeRobertson Speech About Women at the War Office2

From ‘Whitehall Injustice: Nottm. Speech Arouses Public Feeling, Sir W. Robertson And The War Office Women’, Nottingham Evening Post 22 January 1921

1922 War Office List (p. 129):

181  Female workers:

103 Women Clerks, 1 Girl Clerk, 29 Typists, 38 Viewers (Women), 6 Medal Stampers (Women), 3 Girls, 1 Welfare Supervisor (out of 535 staff in A.G. 10) 34 % staff female .

1923 War Office List (p. 87):

13 Female workers

4 Viewers & Stampers, 9 Typists (out of 230 staff in A.G. 10) 5.7% staff female.

1924 War Office List (p. 101):

6 Typists (out of 126 staff in A.G. 10) 5% staff female.

In contrast to the removal of all of the women industrial and clerical staff other than the 6 typists, there remained 86 Ex-Soldier Clerks, 19 Temporary Clerks (Editor’s note: Male) and 8 industrial staff (1 Foreman, 1 Storeman and 6 Labourers). The Ex-Soldier Clerks constituted 68% of the remaining workforce, Field Marshal Robertson would have approved. Although the shrinkage in overall numbers for A.G. 10 was due to the bulk of the Great War related work having been completed, which would always lead to large reductions in the Industrial side, the return to pre-War practices of clerical work being male and predominantly done by Ex-Soldier Clerks is clear.