In England during World War II, most men were off fighting and many non-combative important jobs pertaining to the war effort were neglected. To fill those positions the British Army recruited women, who then formed the Auxiliary Territorial Service in September 1938. As the war raged on, the size of ATS grew. The women worked as drivers, bakers, postal workers, ammunition inspectors, and mechanics, among many other duties. 

One particularly famous female member of the ATS was Queen Elizabeth II, then just Princess Elizabeth. 


In February 1945, just a few months before World War II ended, then-Princess Elizabeth joined the ATS. She had just turned 18 years old and was keen to join the war effort.

It took months of pleading and begging her father King George VI to allow her to join.


In the ATS, Princess Elizabeth was trained as a driver and mechanic.

Imperial War Museum London

Here, Princess Elizabeth (center) poses for a group photo with officers of the ATS Training Centre.


She learned to change a wheel, take apart and put back together engines, as well as drive ambulances and other military trucks.


Here, Princess Elizabeth is driving a military truck.

Wikimedia Commons

Five months after training she was promoted to honorary junior commander.

Allegedly, she loved to get dirty and get grease stains on her hands and then show them off to her posh friends.


Despite getting dirty and fixing military trucks, Princess Elizabeth was still royalty and went to the royal residence of Windsor Castle to sleep every night.

To this day, Queen Elizabeth II remains the only female member of the royal family to join the military and is the only living head of state that has served in World War II.