The materials for a history of the Women's Army Corps in World War II are widely scattered. Unlike the histories of some units and campaigns, the history of the WAC must cover most of the areas of the world --Europe, North Africa, the Middle East; Southeast Asia, and the Southwest Pacific, as well as the three major commands in the United States-- the Army Air Forces. Army Ground Forces, and Army Service Forces. Unlike the histories of technical services, it must tell the story of Wacs employed in not one but almost all branches of the Army.
During a good part of its wartime existence, the Corps had no centralized files to which automatically came all memoranda and other papers concerning the Corps. For the first year of its existence, as a separate Auxiliary, the WAAC had its own historian, 1st Lt. Virginia Smithson, and maintained complete records, as a project of the WAAC Control Division, which had hoped the material could "be referred to 20 to 30 years from now and a new women's organization built up on the experience we have learned from this experiment." Collections had been made of Army, WAAC, ASF, and AGO regulations, printed legislative records, headquarters policies, and other documents pertaining to the WAAC, and it was intended that the historian would set each WAAC company to collecting historical materials.
After conversion of the WAAC to full military status in the summer of 1943, however, work on the WAAC history was stopped, no separate historical program was permitted, and the WAAC files at the Office of the Director were broken up and scattered. From September of 1943 on, there were no centralized WAC records, and companies in the field did not forward any historical materials to headquarters.
Responsibility for keeping historical records was delegated to the various commands to which Wacs were assigned, but at the end of the war it was discovered that few Army commands had prepared any final record of their scattered and often tiny WAC minorities. In particular, it was impossible to obtain from Army histories, published or unpublished, the data on which the future planning for the efficient employment of women must be based. The present study, when commissioned, was thus handicapped by a late start, at a time when records and files were already intermixed with those of Army commands over four continents, and when many Wacs had already returned to civilian life.
The Women's Army Corps was created in wartime, and ran its course during months when the Army's primary mission was combat, not research. The WAC was not regarded by the Army as an experimental group on which it could collect valuable data, much to the disappointment of civilian agencies desirous of obtaining complete statistics on the WAC.
The lack of wartime field studies has made necessary a rather heavy documentation, since a chapter cannot be based on a single field study, or several, but must
ordinarily be based on previously unworked files and be laboriously footnoted with hundreds of separate letters and memoranda.
The bulk of materials on the history of the WAAC and WAC is in the WAAC-WAC files, now in the G-1 Area, Departmental Records Branch, Adjutant General's Office (DRB AGO), under several file designations:
WA : before 9 March 1942
SPWA : 9 March 1942-29 February 1944 (the period during which the WAAC-WAC was under the Army Service Forces)
WDWAC: 1 March 1944-(after the WAC's transfer to G-1 Division of the War Department General Staff)
This collection contains the WAAC historical files (a series of loose-leaf note books), the WAAC planning files (of Miss B. Eugenia Lies and other consultants), the WAAC Planning Service files, the stayback files of Lt. Col. Gilman C. Mudgett, first WAAC Pre-Planner, and of Lt. Col. Harold P. Tasker, as well as Colonel Tasker's personal files.
At the same location are the Hobby files, formerly at the Office of the Director, WAC, comprised of Director Hobby's personal files and of the WAAC Daily Journal-the latter consisting of a manila folder labeled "Staff Conferences for the Period August-October 1942," and two loose-leaf notebooks (Volumes I and II) for the period November 1942-August 1943.
There is also a small file of WAAC-WAC material, cited as WAC files, OCMH. This material was collected by the author during research for this volume and is filed at OCMH as supporting documents. Some material on the Wacs in the Army Air Forces is at the U.S. Air Force Historical Division, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Some papers concerning the WAAC-WAC under the Army Service Forces are in the file of the Director of Personnel, ASF, Special Collections, DRB AGO. Also useful were the files of the Chief of Staff, and General Marshall's personal files, made available to the author by his secretary.
For all other information on the WAC, it is necessary to go directly to the files of the command, branch, or theater concerned, as indicated in "Secondary Sources," below.
Materials on the plans for the use of women in the Army before World War II are to be found principally in the War Department collection in the National Archives, and in the G-1 files at DRB AGO.
The secondary sources for a history of the WAC consist principally of manuscripts prepared by the historians of various WAC units, or by historians of other branches of the Army that employed Wacs. These histories are of uneven quality and degree of thoroughness of coverage. The story of Wacs in the Army Air Forces, for instance, is thoroughly covered in Lt. Col. Betty Bandel's history, The WAC Program in the Army Air Forces, while the corresponding manuscript for the Army Service Forces consists of a ten-page summary. The history of Wacs in
some services and branches-for example, the Chemical Warfare Service-was not recorded in detail, because of the secrecy of the work that Wacs performed. In other cases, material on Wacs quite probably exists in uncatalogued files of various commands and theaters, but obviously it was not possible for one writer-researcher to sift through all Army records for such material.
Army Air Forces
The WAC Program in the Army Air Forces, a 97-page typescript prepared in November of 1946, by Colonel Bandel, the Air WAC Officer, represents a summary of material then on file in the Air WAC Division, Headquarters, AAF. Copies are now on file at the Office of the Chief of Military History and at the U.S. Air Force Historical Division, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. This study is cited in footnotes as AAF WAC Hist.
The history of Wacs in the Air Transport Command is partly covered in two manuscript studies: History of the Air Transport Command: Women Pilots in the Air Transport Command, and Historical Records Report 315c, Wacs in the European Division, Air Transport Command, both on file at the U.S. Air Force Historical Division. Most of the latter appears to be the work of Pfc. Mary E. Asseltyne of the Historical Unit. Information on Wacs in the Air Forces in Europe is contained in the History of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces. Statistics on Wacs in the Air Forces are found in the AAF Statistical Digest, World War II, prepared by the Office of Statistical Control, Headquarters, Army Air Forces.
Army Ground Forces
The history of Wacs in the Army Ground Forces is told in The WAC in Army Ground Forces, World War II, prepared by the AGF WAC Officer, Lt. Col. Emily E. Davis. It consists of two bound volumes of typescript: Volume I, Summary of WAC Program in the AGF (87 pages), and Volume II, Copies of Documents Cited (28 documents). This study is now on file at OCMH, and the documents that compose Volume II are on file in Folder "WAC" in the AGF files, Special Collections, DRB AGO. It is cited in footnotes as AGF WAC Hist.
Army Service Forces
Unlike the AAF and the AGF, the Army Service Forces did not prepare any history of its WAC program at the end of the war, because of its objections to separate statistics for women. The only document resembling a history is a ten-page summary entitled "Distribution, Versatility, and Excellence of Wacs Serving With Army Service Forces," which was prepared by the ASF WAC Officer, Lt. Col. Katherine R. Goodwin a year before the end of the war. It is now on file at OCMH and is cited in footnotes as ASF WAC Summary.
Also at OCMH are: (1) History: Office of the Director of Personnel, Army Service Forces, 20 July 1942-1 September 1945, prepared by Maj. Margaret Perry. (2) History of Military Training: WAAC/ WAC Training, Army Service Forces, prepared by Maj. Lavinia L. Redd, WAC, 5 February 1946, cited in footnotes as ASF Hist of WAC Tng.
North African and Mediterranean Theaters. No history of the WAC in the North African or Mediterranean theaters was written, but material on this subject has been found in the History of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, December 1943-1 September 1944, by Headquarters, MAAF, and in the WAC Redeployment Summary, a memorandum from the WAC public relations officer, Headquarters, MTOUSA, for the WAC Group, War Department Bureau of Public Relations, 12 September 1945. The most important materials on the WAC in North Africa and the Mediterranean are in the WAAC-WAC files and in a collection of important theater memoranda in the personal possession of Lt. Col. Dorothea A. Coleman, WAC Staff Director, North African Theater of Operations, cited as Coleman file.
European Theater. The European theater was the only overseas theater that attempted any final written evaluation of its WAC program. This was Report of the General Board, U.S. Forces, European Theater, "Study of the Women's Army Corps in the European Theater of Operations," (G-1 Section, Study 11), a three volume mimeographed study, on file at OCMH, cited in footnotes as ETO Bd Rpt. The members of the board were Col. Charles Van-Way, Jr., GSC, Lt. Col. Anna W. Wilson, WAC, and Capt. Martha Selvik, WAC. The Historical Section, Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, prepared a manuscript, History of WAAC-WAC in ETO, 1942-44, a copy of which is at OCMH, cited in footnotes as ETO WAC Hist.
Middle East Theater. Unusually complete historical reports were brought back from the Middle East theater by Dr. T H. Vail Motter, of the Middle East Section, OCMH. These are: (1) Historical Data, WAC Detachment, Middle East Service Command, Camp Huckstep, 11 September 1944, by Lt. Jane A. Riebesell, WAC Historical Officer, with appendixes for July, August, September, and October of 1944, cited as Unit Hist Camp Huckstep. (2) Historical Review, WAC Detachment, Cairo Military District, 28 August 1945, cited as Unit Hist Cairo Del. The last thirteen pages pertain to the WAC Unit at Camp Huckstep, September 1944 to April 1945. (3) Summary: WAC AMET [Women's Army Corps in the Africa-Middle East Theater, prepared for Dr. Motter by Sgt. Birdie Weisbrod, June 1945, based on files of the G-2 Historical Section, AMET, and cited as WAC AMET Summary.
Southeast Asia Command. No records of the WAC in this area were found, with the exception of a memorandum from Maj. Margaret D. Craighill for The Surgeon General, 6 April 1945, on medical and social conditions of women in military service in Ceylon, now on file at the Historical Division, Surgeon General's Office.
China-Burma-India Theater. The report on the China-Burma-India theater is the best documented of all overseas theater reports, since the entire files of the WAC sections of the theater headquarters were brought back to the United States by special courier and deposited in G-1 Division of the War Department General Staff, at the Office of the Director, WAC. These are bound in several indexed folders, referred to as CBI WAC files.
There are also two official reports on the WAC in the China-Burma-India theater: (1) A report by AAF headquarters, India-Burma theater, to The Adju-
tant General, in answer to a Congressional inquiry, on Wac health and living conditions in the India-Burma theater, 5 July 1945, now in the WAC files, cited as AAF IBT Rpt. (2) A report by Maj. Margaret D. Craighill to The Surgeon General, 30 March 1945, on medical and social conditions of women in military service in the India-Burma theater, cited as Craighill IBT Rpt. Some information on the WAC is also contained in the History of the India-Burma Theater, 25 October 194423 June 1945, prepared by the CBI Section. OCMH.
Southwest Pacific Area. No official history of the WAC in the Southwest Pacific theater has been written. Because of differences of opinion in the records, research has been carried to the unit records level, although time and facilities did not permit this to be done for other theaters. Besides thirty folders of theater files now at Field Records Division, Kansas City Records Center, Kansas City, Mo., the account of the WAC in the Southwest Pacific is based on the following reports: (1) The "Griffith Account," an unsigned, undated typescript presented to the author by the War Department Bureau of Public Relations. Authorship of this document is reliably attributed to Capt. Velma P. Griffith, WAC Public Relations Officer, Southwest Pacific Area, who was an eyewitness to many events described therein, and who had access to theater WAC data. It is in agreement with other accounts and offers a valuable narrative of experiences of WAC detachments, although not employed as an authority for statistics or policy. (2) WAC Draft AFPAC Reply, draft prepared by the WAC Staff Director, Army Forces in the Pacific, in response to a War Department request for an investigation of WAC conditions in the Southwest Pacific. This draft was approved by the WAC Staff Directors, Army Forces in the West Pacific and Far East Air Forces. It contains much material deleted by Headquarters, AFPAC, from the final version of the report. (3) AFPAC Reply, the official report, based on the above draft, from Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces in the Pacific, to The Adjutant General, 1 November 1945, on WAC personnel in the Southwest Pacific Area. (4) Boyce Rpt, an official report by Col. Westray Battle Boyce, Director WAC, to the Chief of Staff, USA, on her visit to WAC personnel in overseas theaters. (5) Craighill SWPA Rpt, a memorandum prepared by Major Craighill on medical and social conditions of women in military service in SWPA. Attached is a list of interviews with more than 200 individuals in SWPA, including chief nurses, WAC detachment commanders, hospital commanders, Army commanders, inspectors; also a table of comparative rates of medical evacuation for Wacs and Nurses, 1 July 44 to 1 April 45. (6) Approximately twenty-five interviews between the author and persons who had been in the Southwest Pacific Area during the war, and comments by some of them on Chapter XXII:
Baird, Col. Harry H., wartime G-1, USAFFE until 1 June 1945; interview
and written statement, 29 July 1948; comments on chapter, 23 April 1951.
Campbell, Brig. Gen. William F., Chief Quartermaster, USASOS; interview, 24 July 1947.
Davis, Col. Merle H., Deputy Chief Ordnance Officer, USASOS, Chief Ordnance Officer, AFWESPAC; interview, 24 July 1947.
Denit, Brig. Gen. Guy B., Chief Surgeon,
USASOS; interview, 24 July 1947.
Dunn, Lt. Col. Charles, Personnel Policy Board (SWPA Replacement Study), Office of the Secretary of Defense; interview, 13 August 1947.
Ginsburgh, Col. A. Robert, G-1 and G-3, USASOS; interview, 25 July 1947; comments on chapter, 13 August 1947.
Brown, Lt. Col. Mary-Agnes, Staff Director,
SWPA and AFPAC, March 1944-May 1945; interview, June 1945 and 5 June 1947.
Costello, Dorothy Pat, a sergeant at AFPAC headquarters; interview, 4 August 1948.
Foushec, Capt. Fay, Transportation Corps, USASOS; interview, 27 July 1947.
Galloway, Lt. Col. Mera, Staff Director, AFPAC, September 1945-1946; interview, 6 November 1946; comments on chapter, 22 May 1951.
Gardiner, Maj. Annie V, Staff Director, WESPAC, September 1945 January 1946; interview, 22 July 1947.
Kelly, Maj. Charlee L., Assistant Staff Director, SW PA and AFPAC, 1944-45, and Acting Staff Director, May-September 1945; interview, 28 July 1947.
Kersey, Maj. Mary L., Staff Director, FEAF, October 1944-December 1945; interview, 23 July 1947; comments on chapter, 21 April 1951.
Letallier. Capt. Jeanne, IG Section; USAFFE; interview, 9 January 1946.
Shields, Capt. Rita, Ordnance, USASOS; interview, 27 July 1947.
War Department WAC Advisers:
Boyce, Col. Westray Battle, Director, WAC, July 1945-May 1947.
Craighill, Lt. Col. Margaret, MC, SGO.
Ludwigsen, Maj. Marjorie, Staff Inspection Section, Air WAC Division, Headquarters, AAF.
A draft of Chapter XXII was the subject of a seminar at which were present Colonels Brown and Ginsburgh and members of the Pacific Section, Historical Division, SSUSA (later OCMH), including Dr. Louis Morton, Mr. Samuel Milner, Capt. Robert Ross Smith, and Maj. Nelson L. Drummond, Jr., who furnished written and oral comments.
Wacs in the Technical and Administrative Services
None of the technical or administrative services prepared any final summary of its employment of Wacs. The nearest approach to such a survey is the typescript Narrative History of the Military Personnel Branch, Office of the Chief Signal Officer: Activities in Connection with WAAC or WAC Personnel for Signal Corps Duty; October 1943. The Office of the Chief of Chaplains included a section, "Ministrations to WAC," in its official history. Military History of the Second World War: The Corps of Chaplains. A chapter of the history of the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation is devoted to the activities of the Transportation Corps Wacs.
Other Women's Services
No official history of the WAVES has ever been published. There is on file at the Office of the Director of Naval History a manuscript, First Draft Narrative, U.S. Naval Administration in World War II: Bureau of Naval Personnel, Women's Reserve, 18 January 1946, cited as WAVES Hist.
The Army Nurse Corps
Comparisons with the experiences of the Army Nurse Corps arc based upon: (1) Organized Nursing and the Army in Three Wars; a Political and Administrative History of the Army Nurse Corps, by Mary W. Standlee, Walter Reed Hospital, in collaboration with Florence A. Blanchfield, R. N., Col., ANC, a copy of which was furnished the author in manuscript. (2) A pamphlet, The Army Nurse, published by the Army Nurse Corps.
The British Women's Services
Comparisons between American and British women's services are based principally on a 58-page pamphlet, Report of the Committee on Amenities and Welfare Conditions in the Three Women's Services, presented to Parliament, August, 1943, printed and published by His Majesty's Stationery Office. Other information is contained in D. Collett Wadge (ed.), Women in Uniform (London: S. Low, Marston [ 19461).
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