1945: The Closing Months of the War
The prospect of victory in Europe brought to the WAC, as to the Army as a whole, the last of its problems before demobilization: that of maintaining efficiency in a period of war weariness. Symptoms, as they appeared in the last winter of the war, were not in themselves any more alarming for the WAC than for the Army as a whole, except as trends which, if continued, would render the Corps ineffective at the moment the expected strain of redeployment to the Pacific would tax all administrative facilities. In January of 1945, the rate of medical discharge for Wacs was found to be more than double that of January of the preceding year. The rate of discharge other than honorable (blue) was many times greater than that of the year before.1 WAC uniform violations became increasingly common, as well as mere untidiness. WAC officers, who should have set an example in this respect, instead were frequently the worst offenders. Director Hobby moved to secure publication of two separate admonitions, stating that "it is manifestly unfair to require and expect enlisted women to abide strictly by Uniform Regulations when the officers of their Corps are guilty of flagrant abuse thereof. 2
Possibly more important was the intangible but unmistakable crumbling of that high morale and idealism upon which the Corps had always depended in surmounting pioneering obstacles and public disapproval. Among company officers, visitors reported a definite feeling that they and their women had been forgotten by those in authority. Most of the reforms in the uniform supply, job assignment, medical care, and other policy matters, which had been fought over for two years in the War Department, had reached the field so late as to make little impression, or had not arrived at all at some isolated stations.
Even at best, the earlier crusading spirit, with its rosy expectation of capturing the citadel of full acceptance, had long since been replaced by a more realistic evaluation of the situation. The familiar gibes and gossip had ceased to be a challenge and had become merely wearisome, and the average woman now realized that, so long as women did not share in combat, they would never be full-fledged military citizens. As one dispirited Wac put it in a letter to Director Hobby, "We don't want
appreciation; we only want to go home."3 The British Auxiliary Territorial Service had reported the same situation some months earlier, with particular reference to female troop officers stationed permanently in isolated spots. Having coped with all of the changes that naturally accompanied the growth of a new organization, they were described as needing "a shot in the arm." 4 In the American WAC, urgent cases of company officer fatigue had been reported as early as 1943, with officers vainly seeking transfer on grounds that they had "gone stale" and had nothing more to give to their units.5
Inasmuch as medical surveys showed the job-interest factor to have more influence upon both fatigue and health than all other factors combined, first WAC proposals for combating a slump in efficiency hinged upon a transfer or rotation system that would approximate for female personnel the normal rotation in the armed forces. Women in both the Army and the Navy had generally lacked the job rotation customary for men. Except for the few released for officer candidate school or overseas service, most had remained at the station of initial assignment. The Navy Department was the first to note the problem in this system, reporting:
Since the familiar shore-sea duty rotation did not apply to the Women's Reserve, it was originally contemplated that their initial assignments to duty would probably be for the duration of the war. AS the war lengthened, it became clear that this was not a sound policy. Morale in general was injured by a pervading policy which apparently froze all hands in whatever billets they had first chanced to find themselves. . . Women assigned to out-of-the-way or otherwise less desirable stations were considerably worse off than the men, who at least had a prospect of sea duty as a change.6
In November of 1944, the Navy Department therefore adopted a system whereby Waves who had given two years of good service, exclusive of training time, could request transfer to another location, approval to be contingent upon military necessity. Women whose original assignments remained responsible and absorbing to their interests did not request such rotation, but of others who did, it was noted that 90 percent wanted duty nearer home. Even if a new assignment held little more interest than the old, the change of scenery and renewal of family contacts appeared to improve efficiency.7
No comparable solution was arrived at by the Army. In a conference early in 1945, Army Service Forces staff directors recommended that the Army add a similar provision to its directives governing rotation, to apply only to individuals who had served at least two years either on "isolated stations" or "on duties the nature of which on a prolonged assignment is detrimental to the individuals concerned." Final approval of such a change in jobs would have remained a prerogative of command, dependent upon the situation.
This proposal met the opposition of Military Personnel Division, ASE, on the grounds that "the assignment and reas-
signment of military personnel is a command function" and that rotation should therefore be left to a station commander to initiate if necessary. An eventual stalemate resulted from the fact that there was no reliable estimate of the number of men who would be affected by such a provision. Director Hobby believed it to be so small as to permit equal applicability of the provision to men and women, while General Dalton feared otherwise and that to apply it to women alone would appear discriminatory. For this reason, no such rotation was authorized until just before the end of the war, and WAC advisers instead sought other means of arresting a decline in efficiency.8
Refresher Training of Officers
British experience indicated that good results in combating fatigue among women troops could be obtained by combating it in their officers, by means of refresher training to impart new ideas and encouragement. The ATS had therefore established both junior and senior officers' schools, later merged; with reportedly excellent response.9 AS early as August of 1944, Director Hobby approached the Chief of Staff concerning the advisability of establishing a refresher course, because of the increasing fatigue of WAC troop officers and the unavailability of replacements.10 She noted:
These officers . . . should be a very proud group, a group recognized throughout the Army . . . . Instead, there has been a growing tendency to regard the assignment to an operational job as a "plum." . . . A WAC detachment officer, if she does her job properly constantly has to listen to the problems of the women of tier unit. Conditions in military service are more strange to women than to men, home situations often bear more heavily, the very type of work they perform is more monotonous because the chances of transfer and change are less, outside diversions are fewer. The result is that at the present time many WAC commanders, many of the best ones, have been so drained of inner strength that they feel that they have nothing else to give and would like to be transferred to routine operational jobs . . . . I do not feel that the Corps can afford to transfer good detachment officers . . . . I do feel that something must be done to refresh the tired ones and constantly improve the work of all.11
In spite of General Marshall's immediate approval of this suggestion in August of 1944, ASF's opposition delayed the school's beginning until April of the next year.12 Military Training Division took a firm stand against the school, on the grounds that there were no problems peculiar to females in the Army:
It is not apparent to this office what functions are peculiar to a WAC Staff Director that are not common to other officers performing staff assignments. Furthermore., it is not understood what functions are peculiar to WAC Detachment Commanders that are
not common to all Detachment or Unit commanders.13
The Office of the Director disagreed with this opinion, believing that, while subjects such as hygiene, recreation, and discipline might be identical in title for both men and women, the practical application differed at least as much as the course content in Infantry School differed from that of the Field Artillery or Armored Force School. Colonel Rice added:
The only two new jobs added to the Army by the inclusion of the WAC have been those of WAC detachment officer and WAC Staff Director. While these carry the same MOS numbers as similar jobs for men, the actual duties, and therefore the elements in successful accomplishment, are somewhat different . . . . The personnel administration of women is now an Army job and I fail to see how an officers' school for that training is a different idea from an officers' school for any other specialized job such as QM School, Signal; CWS, Ordnance, or any technical and professional job.14
Nevertheless, Director Hobby decided to ask the opinion of the three major commands concerning the appropriateness of the school and of its proposed course of study. This was done, and two of the three commands proved receptive.15 The Army Air Forces stated:
. . it would be of particular value to secure by this means a digest of the best practices which have been developed in the administration of female military personnel over the past two and a half years, and thus to lay the foundation for a manual or guide to be used in the training of future WAC administrators.16
The Army Ground Forces likewise agreed, saying that the school "will be of real military advantage in the command and administration of members of the WAC.17 AGF suggested that the course include especial help in guiding women's recreation and physical training activities, education, and preparation for demobilization. On the other hand, in the ASF, Military Training Division alleged that there were plenty of Army schools already in existence. General Dalton added that the development of women leaders was no proper concern of the War Department: "After assignment, the efficient administration of a WAC company is one responsibility of command . . . ." 18
Director Hobby offered the opinion that no Army school, even The Adjutant General's School, included courses on women's health, jobs, recreation, and physical, moral, and social problems. She also pointed out that she was not asking a women's school but an Army school, for the instruction of any Army officer whose business happened to be that new Army specialty, the personnel administration of women.19 Male officers were therefore eligible to attend if interested in this specialty, or if assigned to WAC recruiting and similar fields.20
G-3 Division and the Chief of Staff both agreed with this statement, and establishment of the School for WAC Personnel
Administration was directed.21 Thus, as the Corps neared completion of its third year, there was set a new major principle: that the leadership of women was a recognized specialty and branch of the science of personnel administration, and an Army responsibility. In an important restatement of the Corps' mission, the Director noted:
The WAC mission as a Corps is to procure, train, and supply personnel to the Army, and to administer that personnel. When trained personnel has been supplied to the commands, the mission of that personnel becomes the mission of the command to which it is assigned . . . .There is only one small group that performs a Corps mission. That group consisting of officers assigned to detachments and WAC staff work-is charged with the administration of WAC troops because they are women ....
My concern with this matter is purely my concern with officers whose duty is the wellbeing and morale of women. All matters which can be handled by Army mechanics seem now to be well-understood and well-handled within the established framework of the Army.22
School for WAC Personnel Administration
By April of 1945, when the School for WAC Personnel Administration opened its doors, the plight of WAC leadership in the field appeared to be desperate almost beyond the point of remedying. The most capable WAC troop commanders were by their own admission exhausted and embittered. Critiques submitted by members of the first class of students revealed that they knew little of the attempts at progress and improvement in clothing supply, public opinion, and regulations that had been taking place in the War Department, and most stated frankly that they and their women desired nothing so much as to get out of the military establishment.23
To counteract an attitude that seemed about to nullify the Corps' previous accomplishments, Director Hobby called upon the woman whose initiative had rallied the Corps once before in the days of recruiting failure, Colonel Rice. the deputy director. Although herself, in the opinion of doctors of the Army Medical Center, now so exhausted and ill that continuance of service was dangerous, Colonel Rice was given the final task of reviving, by exposure to her own leadership, the courage and idealism of troop officers and thus of the entire Corps. It was intended to assign Colonel Rice as commandant only long enough for her to establish the curriculum. It soon became evident, however, that, in the task of reviving exhausted leaders, the curriculum was less important than the commandant's personality, which a witness called
. . . the type of leadership based on personal integrity, selfless devotion to the cause she serves and the people she leads, and the vision to see and interpret for others a program in its broadest and most constructive aspect which inspires those who follow her.24
Colonel Rice therefore relinquished her post as deputy and remained with the school until its closing. In the Director's Office, she was replaced by Colonel Boyce
as deputy, as well as by two other officers, a major and a captain.
The entire curriculum of the refresher course was designed by Colonel Rice. Both G-3 Division and Director Hobby had agreed that the War Department, not ASF, must control training doctrine, since students came from all three major commands and overseas theaters. ASF was given control of routine supply and administration.25
General Marshall himself vetoed Director Hobby's earlier plans to place the school on a military post, and insisted that its mission of restoring energy and perspective to troop administrators could best succeed in an informal atmosphere. Accordingly, the chosen site was Purdue University at Lafayette, Indiana, a school centrally located and one that already housed a Navy technical school and an Army ROTC. WAC administrative officers were ordered to this school at the rate of 90 every three weeks, for a two and a half weeks' course. In contrast to the custom at WAC training centers, a deliberately democratic and informal atmosphere was maintained; the commandant directed that the relative rank of students and faculty be ignored in the interests of maximum free discussion.
The school, as established at Purdue, set an example in personnel administration by proving the least expensive per student per month of all officers' schools conducted by the Army. Colonel Rice was assisted by a permanent staff of only four officers, with an additional rotating staff of four outstanding WAC administrators attending each class as temporary instructors.26
The most outstanding characteristic of the school was that no course was given that could not be given by a top authority in the field; thus, maxims and precepts were to a large extent replaced by a firsthand account of the Corps' experience. Colonel Hobby visited every class until her retirement, after which Colonel Boyce came often. The Air WAC Officer visited every class and addressed AAF students; the ASF and AGF WAC Officers came frequently, furnishing latest authoritative information on policies of those commands.
Lectures on mental health were given to each class by the WAC's psychiatric authority, Major Preston of Fort Des Moines. Medical problems of women were discussed by Colonel Craighill and Maj. Margaret Janeway of The Surgeon General's Office. Reliable information on demobilization and women's job opportunities was furnished each class by the WAC representative in Selective Service headquarters, Maj. Marion Lichty.
Purdue University, noted for its close working liaison with industry, furnished experts in personnel administration. Its psychology department likewise offered authoritative condensed lectures on the psychology of the adult female. Favorite subjects were the technique of the company interview, the psychology of punishment of women, and women's readjustment problems.
Lectures on War Department organization and policies, and on approximately two hundred War Department regulations peculiar to the WAC, were given chiefly by Colonel Rice, who had personally written most of the regulations under discussion. Prominent lecturers on the other women's services included Director Doro-
thy C. Stratton of the SPARS, Director Ruth Streeter of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, and representatives of the WAVES, ATS, and Canadian WAC.27
Also included, both for rehabilitation of students and for their use in teaching their units, was instruction by the college faculty in women's sports, as well as in a posture clinic, and in the organization of games, square dancing, and group singing.
The most important visiting experts, however, were believed by the commandant to be the students themselves, experienced troop officers. Therefore, group conferences and forums followed each lecture and emphasized the sharing of practical experiences.
In a conference on Morale, specific devices were discussed-crafts and homemaking classes, cheerful date rooms, women's sports tournaments, future wardrobe planning. In Public Relations, commanders related ways in which they had encouraged co-operation with local churches, newspapers, women's clubs, and civic groups so as to secure pleasant relations and recreational opportunities for the women. In Discipline, actual problem cases and most effective methods were discussed, as well as successful means of preparing courts-and-boards cases concerning women who injured company morale and reputation. The conference on helpful administrative devices discussed such matters as the best means of coping with the heterogeneity peculiar to WAC companies: how to arrange sleeping quarters for workers on different shifts, as well as barracks duties, training and meals. A dozen conferences of this nature left few original devices and discoveries unshared by the group.
Because officers from many different commands were included, the school offered no "approved solution" to any problem, but merely allowed women to observe the best solutions that fellow students had been able to achieve under varying command situations. Visiting psychiatrists pronounced the conferences "'group therapy" as well as instruction. Commanders who, at isolated stations, had long borne in silence the responsibility for their women's lives and behavior now discovered dozens of individuals with identical experiences. Even after classwork, there was a torrent of extracurricular conversation, which filled every spare minute and lasted well into the night, and which Colonel Rice viewed with extreme approval as being more important than the course of study.
Many commanders were found to have labored under a weight of guilt and depression in the belief that certain problems were limited to their own companies, and were amazed and exhilarated to discover that identical problems had been met by every other commander and by Navy and British services. The only complaint was that this release and reassurance had come too late for many. One student wrote, "If only I could have talked about these things before my nerves were shot instead of after!" Others speculated bitterly on enlisted women whose lives or moral standards might have been saved had such shared information been available earlier to enable the commander to handle their cases more wisely.
Evaluation of Refresher Training
The effectiveness of the School for WAC Personnel Administration in combating troop fatigue was commended by most of
the commands that had sent WAC students. The AGF's adjutant general commented to General Marshall:
It has been apparent that all officers who attended the school received invaluable training in personnel procedures, designed to develop and maintain high morale among the enlisted women in this command. This has been indicated by the increasing number of units which have been awarded the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque and by the increased enthusiasm of the Commanding Officers themselves, which has in turn been reflected in the attitude and morale of the enlisted women under their immediate jurisdiction.28
As a result, AGF sent to the school every WAC company officer and staff director under its jurisdiction, except a few newcomers who were too late to participate.
The AAF noted:
Officers who attended the course returned to their bases not only with sound information . . . but also with a renewed zest for their own jobs, gained from the opportunity they had been given to assess the overall progress which had been made during the past three years in the program to utilize WAC personnel in the military service. 29
The AAF likewise sent every WAC staff director, every WAC air inspector, all Wacs who handled WAC business in Air Forces headquarters, and almost all company officers, to the full extent of their quota for each class.
ASF sent none of its service command staff directors except those requested by name as temporary instructors, very few of its training center personnel, and only a scattering of company officers and recruiters.
The WAVES shortly secured authorization to set up an identical school for Wave troop officers and Women's Reserve representatives in each naval district. Only the end of the war prevented this program. The SPARS, without waiting for the proposed Navy school, sent women to the WAC school. Although Spars met separately when specific Army Regulations were being discussed, it was found that almost every practical problem was identical for women in the Army and in the Coast Guard. After a visit to Purdue, Col. Ruth Streeter also requested permission to send members of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve. She said:
If the British ATS, the Canadian WAC, and the U.S. WAC have all had the same experience, it is only common sense for us to anticipate a similar situation." 30
Colonel Streeter's request was disapproved by Marine Corps headquarters. The Canadian Wacs, however, sent representatives to obtain successful procedures for use in their own advanced school for leaders of female troops.31
With the defeat of Japan and beginning of rapid demobilization, Colonel Rice recommended that the school be closed. In spite of the officers' initial fatigue and disillusionment, Colonel Rice considered their reaction excellent, and wrote, "Based on what we have seen and heard here, I think we have a right to be very proud of the WAC officers, the jobs they are doing, and the attitude they have toward their jobs." 32 The course had come too late for
its results to be reflected in more than a few months of administration; but not too late to aid in demobilization and readjustment, and to send women administrators and their troops home with some feeling of increased understanding and good will toward the Army.
Colonel Rice, at the instigation of the Air and Ground Forces,33 was awarded the Legion of Merit for this and earlier assignments:
. . . As Chief of the Recruiting Division of her Corps . . . she developed and supervised the All-States Recruitment Plan in a manner which swelled enlistments during a critical period . . . she was successively Assistant Director, Executive Officer in the Office of the Director, and Deputy Director, Women's Army Corps, positions in which she applied tier ingenuity, forcefulness, and rare ability to the solution of weighty problems affecting the military service of women. She initiated, developed, co-ordinated, supervised, and recommended many important changes which accomplished ~the thorough integration of the Women's Army Corps into the Army. Her suggestions brought about many plans for the welfare, health, and increased morale of the Corps. As Commandant of the Women's Army Corps School for Personnel Administration at Purdue University, she devised, co-ordinated, and executed a program for training officers in personnel management. In all these varied assignments, Colonel Rice, by her indefatigable energy; organizing ability, and steadfast devotion to duty helped to guide the Women's Army Corps through a difficult period of growth and contributed in a marked manner to the effective utilization of women in the Army of the United States.34
Director Hobby said later:
It is impossible to say too much about what the school accomplished. I really think it held the Corps together during the last hard days.35
Director Hobby's Resignation
Two months after launching the School for WAC Personnel Administration, a month after the victory in Europe, Director Hobby made a long-postponed decision to leave the Corps. For the past months the increasingly precarious state of her health had been common knowledge within a limited circle of the General Staff. In 1944 she had been hospitalized several times at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, for anemia, exhaustion, and a throat ailment which prevented speaking. Eventually Army doctors ordered her for six weeks to Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio and thence to an address known only to her family, with orders that not even policy matters could be communicated to her.
At this time she had attempted to resign in favor of her deputy, Colonel Rice, who carried the weight of Corps' policy during this time with the aid of the one remaining staff officer; Captain Chance, and the civilian adviser, Mrs. Gruber. Colonel Rice had dissuaded her from this step in view of the probable effect of such action on a Corps which was already becoming demobilization-conscious. The hope of a partial recovery proved justified, and in the fall of 1944 the Director was able to return to a limited amount of activity, although from time to time ordered back to the hospital for additional treatment. At this time she informed an inquirer, "I expect now to be able to 'finish out the war.' I hope that it will not be too long." 36
During 1944 the entire staff was hospitalized for various causes; in particular
Colonel Rice, who spent a month in the hospital for a major operation but was obliged by the Director's equally poor health to return to work while still undergoing X-ray treatment. Her inability to visit the field during this year was a constant source of distress to the Director. Files were by now filled with urgent requests from various agencies: training centers asked her to attend graduation ceremonies, and the enlisted women themselves were pathetically eager for a glimpse of her. Not realizing that one day at each of the more than 500 WAC units would have taken more than a year, field commands hopefully invited her to visit all their detachments.37 Companies that she did manage to see wrote, "Since your visit, the morale of our girls has been improved one hundred percent." 38
In October of 1944, an attempt to send Colonel Rice to the Pacific had to be canceled, on the very eve of departure, because of the Director's renewed illness. In December of 1944, the Director requested the War Department Manpower Board to allot her another officer, and informed overseas staff directors that "if they approve the request, I have made a plan to spend a great deal of time at field installations and to send Colonel Rice out when I am in the field." 39 This hope proved vain; by the time another captain was allotted, her full-time work on demobilization planning was required, and the later allotment of a major came after Colonel Rice's reassignment, too late to make the plan practicable.
In connection with her retirement, there was also in the Director's mind a consideration that she admitted later: a comparison with the British women's experience, in which the head of one of the largest services had retired, as soon as its problems were worked out, in favor of a successor who had been less active in early months. Her quite similar career had included successful crusades for equal status, full military rights, redesign of the uniform, elimination of the "snob element" and choice of officer candidates from the ranks, and other identical policy problems. "It was my feeling," Mrs. Hobby noted later, "that any woman who brought a Corps through its early difficulties had to fight so many battles and antagonize so many individuals that she must eventually destroy her usefulness to the Corps.40
Nevertheless, as late as the end of May 1945. two weeks after V-E Day, Colonel Hobby was still hopeful of being able to continue. At this time she told a reporter, "Until everybody can get out of the Army-I won't . . . . No matter what you've heard, I'm staying in until the Pacific war is over." 41
In late June, the serious illness of the Director's husband required her immediate presence. Her own further hospitalization was imminent. At this time, General Marshall informed her that the situation in the Pacific area required a visit from the Director. All other Corps business appeared settled; even the demobilization policy was now approved. Colonel Hobby therefore reluctantly directed her office to draft a statement that would explain her action. The draft, intended for public release, made clear that she had meant, in 1941, to remain away from her husband and children only for a few months while
organizing the Woman's Interest Section of the Bureau of Public Relations. This had taken longer than expected, and she was then "asked to stay a little longer and help organize the new Women's Army Corps. This organizing job lasted three years. Problems came up . . . at no time did she feel she could leave." 42 With this draft, the Director sent to General Marshall a note, with a barely legible signature, to the effect that "due to circumstances which have recently arisen it is necessary for the undersigned to be placed on terminal leave status." 43
Recommendations for Promotion
During these last few days of the Director's tenure, there was again raised an issue that had recurred periodically: whether legislation should' be requested to authorize her promotion to general officer rank. Among Congressional supporters of this measure one stated:
In no other branch of the service does an officer holding the rank of colonel command so many troops. Under the Tables of Organization of the Army, a brigadier general is supposed to command a triangle division consisting of 10,000 troops. In the Wacs, a colonel commands ten times this number. This is not fair to the head . . . it is not fair to its officers . . . Colonel Oveta Hobby is entitled to the rank of major general.44
There was also within the War Department some feeling that, even as staff adviser, the Director's rank should be more nearly comparable to that of the British women's equivalent, or major general. A staff study to this effect was therefore initiated at the last moment, proposing that the necessary legislation should be sought. This encountered delay in the Army Service Forces, and came up only much later, after demobilization was well under way, at which time it was deemed inappropriate to promote her successor, the head of a small peacetime Corps, to a rank that had not been awarded to the full Corps in wartime.45
In any case, it was the general opinion that a Congressional majority for such legislation would not have been forthcoming. Some six months before, the Director had received the Army's highest noncombat award, the Distinguished Service Medal. On this occasion General White had noted, "Since our friends on the hill won't let us pin stars on you, this is the next best thing." 46 The award of the DSM was regarded as some measure of substitute recognition, as much to the Corps as to the Director. Its citation stated, in part:
Without the guidance of precedents in United States military history to assist her. Colonel Hobby established sound initial policies, planned and supervised the selection of officers and the preparation of regulations. The soundness of basic plans and policies promulgated is evidenced by the outstanding success of the Women's Army Corps, composed of nearly 100,000 women and comprising an essential and integral part of the Army.47
Choice of Successor
With her resignation, the Director submitted to the Chief of Staff, for consideration in choosing her successor, the names
of five WAC lieutenant colonels listed in the order of her preference." 48 It was natural that members of the Corps staff should expect the new head to be the former deputy who for twenty months had been Colonel Hobby's chief assistant and at times Acting Director, Lt. Col. Jessie P. Rice. However, it may have appeared unwise to ask Colonel Rice, in view of her poor health, to leave her job as head of the School for WAC Personnel Administration and assume a new and more formidable post. Another consideration may have been the fact that Colonel Rice had not found herself in harmony with the views of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Henry, the Director's immediate superior. A particular disagreement, occurring some months before, had centered around language which Colonel Rice reported that General Henry applied to Negro Wacs in her presence. In protest, Colonel Rice had submitted her resignation and Colonel Hobby had supported her deputy by proffering her own resignation. Later, both resignations were withdrawn at the request of General Henry, who apologized for his language.49
In any event, Colonel Hobby's first listed choice for her successor was Deputy Director Lt. Col. Westray Battle Boyce. Earlier she had served as a staff officer in General Henry's Personnel Policy Branch, where she had handled numerous projects, including the allotment of grades for WAC general hospital companies. She had been the first staff director of the North African theater, and, before that, staff director of the Fourth Service Command. General Henry, in approving Colonel Hobby's nomination of Colonel Boyce as Director, stated that "she will make a better director in the eyes of the public, a better `front' for the Corps," that she had shown her capacity to win the support of influential organizations of women, and also that she was "more the feminine type than any other candidate.''' General Marshall, about to leave for Potsdam, approved the choice, after obtaining the concurrence of Secretary Stimson, who was already on shipboard.50
Colonel Hobby elected immediate resignation instead of a medical discharge, since this enabled her successor to be promoted on the same day to the rank of colonel and the full status of Director, without waiting upon lengthy board proceedings. On 12 July 1945, the closely guarded secret was revealed, and in the presence of the Acting Secretary of War, Colonel Boyce took office as the second Director WAC. Acting Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson praised the first Director's work and informed a press conference, "She had to fight many obstacles in promoting a program that was unique in the history of the Army, but she did it with great distinction." Mrs. Hobby thanked the War Department for "The great assistance always at hand," and the press for their "constructive interpretation." She added:
I have been a member of the greatest democratic fraternity in the world. I shall always be grateful for my service in the Army
of the United States . . . . After three years, the Women's Army Corps has reached its authorized strength. These women are serving in more than two hundred and fifty Army jobs. They are performing their tasks in every theater in the world. The Women's Army Corps is no longer an experiment. Through the measure of its performance, it is accepted by the Army and by the public as an integral part of the team.
So, I feel that my mission of organizing the Corps has been completed. In resigning as Director of the WAC, I would like to say that I have had no comparable experience . . . .
Reporters were, as always, unwilling to let the subject drop so easily, and there followed a question-and-answer exchange not unlike that which had inaugurated the Director's term of service:
Press: What will be the most vivid impression you take away?
Mrs. Hobby: You cannot shed a four-year experience with people in the War Department, and with the great number of women that I have served with, without taking back the knowledge that you are a much richer woman.
Press: Would you like to see the WAC made a permanent part of the Army?
Mrs. Hobby: That is, as you know, a Congressional decision, and I wouldn't comment on it.
Press: Have you bought any new civilian hats?
Mrs. Hobby: Do you mind if I don't end this conference on a note of levity? 51
The violence of the women's reaction to Mrs. Hobby's departure, although expected by the Office of the Director, was surprising to those who had not understood to what extent the small all-volunteer Women's Army Corps had been knit together and sustained in its pioneering by purely emotional motives-idealism, patriotism, and fierce loyalties to fellow members and to its leaders. Now the women's expected reaction was unfortunately intensified by the manner of the press's relating of the event. The vital phrase in the prepared release, "that her mission of organizing the Corps had been completed," was omitted by the Associated Press, which reported, "Colonel Hobby said her mission was completed and that she is returning to her family." 52 The United Press retained the phrase "of organizing," but most newspapers did not print the long explanatory material.
As a result, many Wacs felt that if the Director's mission was ended, so was theirs. From as far away as New Guinea there came the disillusioned protest, "Fine thing-she helped us get into this mess, then she turns around and resigns and here we sit. Nice war, isn't it?" Others said, "If she can go, why can't we?'' Because of the Director's desire not to reveal the personal matters that made her eligible for discharge on three different counts under Army Regulations, including the Adjusted Service Rating score, women said, erroneously but indignantly, "Men Army officers can't resign." As expected, parents also wrote to attack Colonel Hobby for resigning when their daughters were unable to do so.53
The total effect on the Corps soon became quite serious. Colonel Rice responded to a plea for help from the new Director's staff with a speech to troop commanders at the Purdue school in which, mincing few words, she defined a soldier's proper attitude in such crises, and defended the choice of Colonel Boyce, who was not well known to the Corps. The
student response was good and Colonel Rice predicted that the Corps' reaction, though extreme, was a purely personal one, and being such, would pass of itself as soon as the shock wore off. In this she proved correct, and within a few weeks the normal routine of WAC life had been resumed. The women's reaction had, however, obliged Mrs. Hobby to make public the state of her health, which she had desired not to mention, and to allow release of the fact that she had been admitted immediately to Doctors' Hospital in New York.54
The War Department soon discovered that even in departure Colonel Hobby had seized the opportunity for a posthumous effort in favor of certain favorite recommendations. In her final report, she brought to the attention of the Chief of Staff the only five major policy matters on which she had been repeatedly defeated, and which she considered important omissions from the perfection of the final WAC program.55 Although General Henry held the paper for two months before presenting it to General Marshall, there appeared to have been a good chance that the former Director would have scored final victory on all five counts had not the atomic bomb brought the war to a close.
The most serious of these proposals was that the War Department establish a policy, comparable to the Navy's, to permit enlisted women to associate socially with male officers. This proposal Colonel Hobby had already presented seven times in the past two years. General Henry again disagreed, saying, "The traditional relationship between officers and enlisted personnel is a strongly entrenched custom of the service, and any exception which is made for Wacs will be a step in the direction of its complete elimination." This proposal now at last reached General Marshall himself, who noted. "I am inclined to agree with Colonel Hobby. The situation between the sexes is very different from that in the male Army.56 However, General Marshall's deputies urged him to reconsider this decision, and finally, in view of the unsettled postwar conditions, and the prospective demobilization of the Corps, General Marshall decided to make no change in policy for the present.57
The other four proposals, made while the war seemed of indefinite duration, returned to the problem of fatigue. The report noted that barracks which were adequate for shorter occupancy by women could produce excessive fatigue over a period of years, and asked that "the housing regulation be amended to provide some privacy" in the latter case. Although the idea was approved in substance, with the end of the war no new housing was authorized.
In a third proposal, the Director again attempted to get a rotation policy after two years of service. This also was approved to the extent of a nonmandatory letter of advice to each major command,
although only the Air and Ground Forces accepted the advice, and the beginning of demobilization effectually prevented such rotation in any case.
A fourth proposal was also approved: that WAC officers in the older age bracket be eligible for discharge as men were, a provision that had been omitted from the directive on the discharge eligibility of officers.
The last proposal, that noncommissioned officers' schools be set up in the major commands, similar in purpose to the officers' school at Purdue, became unnecessary with quick demobilization at hand.
In addition to her formal report, Mrs. Hobby also wrote personally to General
Serving under your leadership was one of the great experiences of my life. I shall ever be grateful to you for the opportunity and the never failing assistance.
Upon his return from Potsdam, General Marshall thanked the former Director
for her service, and wrote:
Your firm leadership and unselfish purpose were a tremendous factor in the outstanding success of the organization. You made a great sacrifice in the effort which I hope will not prove costly to your future health.58
Upon her resignation in mid July, 1941, Colonel Hobby had come nearer to seeing the wartime WAC to its end than she realized. She later remarked that, had she known how suddenly Japan would be defeated, she would have endeavored to remain for a short time thereafter. A few weeks after her departure, the first atomic bomb fell, and in the next month demobilization was on.
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