Corporal Elspeth Henderson and Sergeant Helen Turner, 1941 by Laura Knight

This weekend, I visited the Laura Knight Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. The first woman to become a Royal Academician, and hugely popular in her lifetime, Knight was quite the trailblazer as well as being a phenomenally good painter. There are so many lovely portraits to admire; this is my favourite from the exhibition, not for its aesthetics, but for its subjects. Two of the very few women to be awarded Military Medals for bravery during WWII, Corporal Elspeth Henderson and Sergeant Helen Turner stayed in a burning building, keeping the phone lines open until the last possible moment before bailing out. It is so rare to see portraits of women in the armed forces, and having a grandmother who served in the WRAF and herself battled through bomb raids to ensure the safety of the men at her base, I wish more images like this were made publicly available for us to truly be able to appreciate the enormous role women played in the fighting of both world wars. – Rachel