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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1760116-Women-in-World-War-2
Rated: E · Essay · History · #1760116
400,ooo women were in uniform in World War 2. They made significant contributions
Women had a huge coming out party in World War 2.  Said Beatrice Hood Stroup of the Women’s Army Corps,“It wasn’t just my brother’s country or my husband’s country, and it was mine as well.  And so it just wasn’t there war, it was my war.  It was my war, and I needed to serve.”

There were women in the workplace prior to World War 2, but they had very specific jobs.  Most were secretarial, teaching or nursing.  The USS Solace had 12 female nurses prior to World War 2.  During the great depression, there was a recurring theme of get our men back to work.  Women were pretty much ignored.

World War 2 saw a huge demand for workers.  A large ammunition plant was built in Elkton Maryland, and women were recruited from adjoining states.  America was still largely agricultural, so this came as a huge change.  Many had never used telephones or flush toilets.

80,000 women were accepted into the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Enlisted Service).  They became radio operators, medical technologists, aerographers and navigation instructors.  Some taught munitions.  “The guys weren’t happy about it, but they were ordered to pay attention.”

By 1945, one half of the Navy Department headquarters were women, freeing men to go overseas.  Women’s army corps went through the same training as the men with two exceptions:  no live ammunitions and no slacks.  Pictures of the obstacle course look interesting.  They were allowed to be aviator mates by 1943.  They fixed airplanes.

Women, like the men were in largely segregated units as to color.  They had separate living quarters and entertainment.  This would begin to change in 1948.  By 1943, women would be accepted as part of the regular army.

Women flew planes in World War Two—a lot of planes in dangerous conditions, but not in combat.  The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Service was formed to move aircraft.  It was formed of only experienced women pilots.

Soon, experienced pilots would train others.  In total 1830 pilots flew sixty million miles in 78 different types of aircraft.  Some tested out airplanes known to have mechanical difficulties.  One lady complained after landing to the mechanic.  She had been unable to read the mechanics scribbling that the screws were only hand tight.  “It’s a small wonder you had problems.”

Women towed target aircraft for gunners to practice on.  They had a 250-foot towrope, but at times that was not enough.  Occasionally their planes took an occasional round.  Said one woman pilot “I never was in any danger.  All these guys had to learn to shoot.  They were little boys and their lives were in danger.”
The women’s Army Corps had 7000 nurses at the beginning of World War 2.  They had a stipulation that nurses could not get married.  They soon had to wave this regulation due to a manpower shortage.  At the end of the War there were 60,000 Army nurses and 12,000 Navy nurses.

Nowhere was women’s bravery more evident than after the Philippines fell to the Japanese in May 1942.  American forces were outmanned 20-1.  They had fallen back to Corregidor in April until final surrender in May 1942.  There were 67 army nurses, 11 navy nurses, 2 dieticians and one physical therapist.  The Japanese seemed fascinates that women could be officers.

They did the same thing in incarceration that they did on active duty.  They took care of patients and there were plenty.  They had many of the same harsh conditions.  One woman lost 44 pounds during captivity (and they were a lot thinner than we are today.)  She said her hands shook when she gave injections.  They all survived the detention.

17,000 WAC’s served overseas as stenographers, drivers, telephone operators and translators.  In the Pacific, men were assigned to protect the women from their own troop harassment.  It had been a long time since they had seen a white woman.

Many of the positions for women evaporated after the war.  To relieve a man for combat was one thing; to replace him was quite another.  Most of the factory jobs went back to returning service men.  By today’s standards, we’d say that’s not fair.  This was 1945 and was accepted by most.

400,000 women were in uniform in World War 2.  They had 460 deaths.  Maybe women didn’t storm over the hill and take enemy positions, but they played a part and showed courage.  They made a difference at a time when America was still very segregated and biased.

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