Isabella Fernandez (nee Innes) in Army Signals Uniform
Isabella (Belle) Innes was born on 19 March 1896. Her family lived in Anfield. She left school aged 13 to work in an umbrella shop on Everton Brow and then went on to become an apprentice telephonist at Bell Telephone Co, which later became the General Post Office.
Aged 21, Belle signed up for the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1917, and in doing so became a female pioneer soldier. WAAC was formed to free up male soldiers for front line service and allowed women to contribute more widely to the war effort. This push for equal rights formed the basis for women’s service in the British Army to this day.
Her skills as a telephonist were highly sought after in France and she became a signaller - sending essential messages and communications. She served until the end of the war.
Back in Liverpool she returned to work as a telephonist until she retired from the GPO in 1956. She died on 21 May 1990.
Belle’s daughter Joyce kindly donated this photograph and other items to the Museum of Liverpool’s social and community history collection