History of the 40th Suffolk Platoon Auxiliary Territorial Service (A.T.S.)
The platoon started as a detachment to the Suffolk Regiment with 25 members in September 1938, when the Auxiliary Territorial Service was formed. They were local girls in civilian employment who came to Gibraltar Barracks one afternoon a week to learn all that would be required of them on formation (of the platoon).
40th Suffolk platoon came into existence a year later, in September 1939. The platoon grew to 55 members, including 15 N.C.O.s. The Auxiliaries were responsible for a variety of roles at the barracks, but were not only confined to the offices, stores, cookhouses, and messes – just like the men they were drilled and did physical training. Colonel W. N. Nicholson wrote in The Suffolk Regiment 1928 to 1946 the following: “I do not know what the general feeling was to this form of female soldiering but as in everything else they did they went at it wholeheartedly. The A.T.S. on a big or little parade were well worth seeing.”
As the months passed, the service provided by the women of 40th Suffolk Platoon became more appreciated, which resulted in more individual responsibilities. At the end of 1941 the numbers were increased, and the Platoon became “C” Company Essex and Suffolk Area Group. With this, the unit had lost its Suffolk title, but it would continue to wear the Regimental Badge of the Suffolk Regiment on their uniforms, as can be seen in the background photo.