To Hitler, she was the most dangerous woman in Europe.

Queen Elizabeth, the charming consort of King George VI (and mother of our current queen, Elizabeth II), had plenty of common sense, a sympathetic nature - and a backbone of steel. Her reaction to bomb damage at Buckingham Palace even garnered the admiration of Londoners who had lost homes, friends and family during Luftwaffe raids.

"I'm glad we've been bombed," she commented. "It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face."1 (Because of its many wharfs and warehouses, that area was a particular target.) To Hitler's chagrin, the Queen's resolute stand boosted British morale.

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She grasped the sacrifices women had made in the Great War (her own brother was killed in France in 1915) and were again facing in the Second World War. During a radio address to the women of the Empire in 1939, she noted that, "War has at all times called for the fortitude of women."

Indeed, war turned life upside down in Canada. Nearly 5,000 military nurses would serve overseas, and more than 45,000 other women would join Canada's armed forces during the mid-century conflict, to work as clerks, telephone operators, drivers or cooks, and eventually in non-traditional roles as mechanics or heavy equipment operators (and always at less pay than males).

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