The Role of the Women

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Life as a fishwife was very hard work and demanded a lot of stamina. Before the war, fishermen had often married women who were also from a fishing family so fishing was a family way of life. Wives worked with their daughters to clean the fishing lines used by the men. They attached food to the line to attract fish. Men used one or two lines at a time so the women were always busy.

When the war began, many fishermen joined the Navy. In order to make enough money to live on, fisherwomen had to take on additional jobs including sometimes going out to sea themselves to fish. They also wove and repaired nets on the dockside or at home. Some of these nets were used by the Army to camouflage and hide soldiers and trenches. It was difficult work and the women's hands got very sore.

Fisherwomen were known for keeping their spirits high by chatting and they often sang together as they worked. When the men who had not gone to war returned from their day of fishing, the women helped to bring the boats and nets in to shore. Each fish had to be gutted and cleaned. Women of all ages were involved in this process from young daughters to grandmothers. Women's hands got cut from the work and very cold from spending so long in the salty seawater. When all the fish were ready, the women carried them to market for sale. The fisherwoman's job was important, as the demand for fresh food was high.