Army Wives From Crimea to Afghanistan: the Real Lives of the Women Behind the Men in Uniform

Army Wives by Midge Gillies

From Crimea to Afghanistan: the Real Lives of the Women Behind the Men in Uniform

Format: Hardback, 400 Pages
ISBN: 9781781312896
Publisher: Aurum Press
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Most families have an army wife somewhere in their past. Over the centuries they have followed their men to the front, helped them keep order in far-flung parts of the empire or waited anxiously at home. Army Wives uses first hand accounts, letters and diaries to tell their story.

We meet the wives who made the arduous journey to the Crimean war and witnessed battle at close quarters. We hear the story of life in the Raj and the, often terrifying, experiences of the women who lived through its dying days. We explore the pressures of being a modern army wife — whether living in barracks or trying to maintain a normal home life outside 'the patch'.

In the twentieth century two world wars produced new generations of army wives who forged friendships that lasted into peacetime. Army Wives reveals their experience and that of a new breed of independent women who supported their men through the Cold War to the current war on terror.

Midge Gillies, author of acclaimed The Barbed-Wire University, looks at how industrial warfare means husbands can survive battle with life-changing injuries that are both mental and physical — and what that means for their family. She describes how army wives communicate with their husbands — via letters and coded messages, to more immediate, but less intimate, texts and Skype. She examines bereavement, from the séances, public memorials and deaths in a foreign field of the Great War to the modern media coverage of flag-draped coffins returning home by military plane.

Above all, Army Wives  examines what it really means to be part of the ‘army family’, in the past and today, and how these women's lives reveal a deeply human experience that is often hidden from those of us on the outside.


Midge Gillies has written six books including highly acclaimed biographies of the record-breaking pilot Amy Johnson, and Edwardian music hall star, Marie Lloyd. In Waiting for Hitler, Britain on the Brink of Invasion she recreated the tension and fear that permeated the summer of 1940. She studied at Cambridge University and has written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Independent and the Los Angeles Times. She is a part-time tutor for the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education. Her father was a prisoner of war in Europe and she is married to the prize-winning crime novelist, Jim Kelly. They live in Cambridgeshire with their daughter, Rosa.
Format: Hardback, 400 Pages
ISBN: 9781781312896
Illustrations: 16pp plate section
Size: 6.024 in x 9.213 in / 153 mm x 234 mm
"Entertaining [...] invaluable for social historians."
"Heart-breaking detail... Gillies is one of our most acute historians of behind-the-scenes military life.”
‘She is exquisitely sensitive to the emotional lives of soldiers’ wives’

"Midge Gillies is to be congratulated on presenting a different angle on military life, understanding the many different facets of what it takes to be an army wife, and appreciating that their vital role must never be underestimated. Courage is not confined to those serving at the front."

"A compelling history which ranges across centuries, conflicts and continents."
"A gem of a read that packs an emotional punch, revealing lives that have often been hidden from view."