Before her departure, Director Hobby had secured approval of a demobilization policy that would permit Wacs to be separated from the service in a fair and orderly sequence, a movement already begun in a small way with V-E Day. The process was, inevitably, to remain orderly for scarcely as long as was required for Japan to capitulate or the nation to succumb to a panic for quick demobilization.
Two years before, while the Auxiliary was still struggling to establish itself, it had been confronted by the War Department's Special Planning Division with the incongruous necessity of planning for demobilization. Three vital decisions were required: whether the WAC should get out faster, slower, or at the same rate as the men; which women should get out first: and the manner in which they could best be processed through separation facilities.1
Director Hobby's unvarying conviction, then and later, was that the WAC should be disbanded as soon as possible after the war was over. She replied to the Special Planning Division that the WAC was so small that even its complete and sudden postwar demise would upset neither Army demobilization nor the civilian economy; that Waacs legally had no re-employment rights even if they had joined the WAC; that without these rights, jobs for women would be scarce in peacetime and therefore an early start in searching for them was advisable; and that the nation would wish its homes re-established as soon as possible. Unlike the Army, the WAC, under existing legislation, had no peacetime component toward which to build, nor even an inactive reserve. She therefore recommended a quick demobilization, in the order of length of service, with priority for former Waacs, veterans' wives, women with dependents, and women with guaranteed civilian jobs. The last to go, in her opinion, should be volunteers who elected to remain for a time.
These ideas were rejected in their entirety by Special Planning Division, which stated that "military necessity"- the essentiality of the job-could be the only governing factor, and that the length of a woman's service could not be considered. This view caused some concern to Director Hobby, since women were chiefly located in overhead jobs, where it might be deemed a military necessity to keep every Wac clerk until the last man was discharged. She asked also what community agency could be expected to assist WAC veterans as the Selective Service
boards would assist returning draftees. As a result, the Office of the Director formulated the policy to which it held while Director Hobby was in office: "It is not intended to suggest any preferred treatment for WAC personnel . . . however, it is believed that a percentage of discharge should be established for the WAC, and that this percentage should be the same as that which the total number of Army separations bears to the Army.2
Special Planning Division refused to take any action to authorize such a percentage. Accordingly, General Somervell, the Director's superior at the time, recommended that no plans be made for WAC demobilization until the War Department had decided whether to keep a Regular Army WAC-a decision that actually was not to be made until three years after the victory over Japan. In this he was eventually overruled by General Marshall, to whom the Director carried the issue at the time of her transfer to G-1. General Marshall directed that the WAC be immediately included in the Army's demobilization planning. General Somervell and the Director were in agreement on one point: that there should be quick postwar demobilization. General Somervell noted, "It is believed that all women who wish to leave the service after the defeat of Germany should be permitted to do so as fast as they can be replaced by men with the proper qualifications.3
In spite of the Chief of Staffs directive, as late as April of 194:1 the War Department's readjustment plan still made no definite provision for female personnel. although the Adjusted Service Rating System had been developed for men, which gave particular weight to combat service and number of children. Director Hobby therefore submitted to G-1 Division a request that the WAC's strength, like the Army's, be reduced by one sixth after the victory in Europe.4
While most G-1 planners were favorable to equal percentages, a particular difficulty developed. G-1 Division noted that, since the WAC had virtually ceased recruiting while the Army was still drafting men, it would be more economical to discharge only men on point scores, and let normal attrition take care of reduction in the WAC. Director Hobby opposed this view, because she felt that it was not the enlisted women's fault that recruiting had ceased. On the matter of giving priority to women married to veterans, which the Special Planning Division favored, Director Hobby dill not object, provided the purpose was to aid veterans' readjustment. She believed, however, that such priority should not affect the percentage of women to be discharged on their own merit. 5
As a result of Colonel Hobby's request, a point score of 44 was set for the WAC, which permitted it, like the Army, to be reduced on merit after V -E Day. The discharge of married women did not prevent the departure of those with 44 points, nor did normal attrition. Director Hobby also received from G-3 Division the informal commitment that, while the remainder of the WAC, like the Army, must be kept until Japan surrendered, the Corps would then be quickly demobilized.6
Before her departure. Director Hobby also secured the assignment of a WAC officer, Major Lichty, to the Veterans Placement Division, Office of the Director of Selective Service, to aid in applying the re-employment program to WAC veterans insofar as legally possible. A Wave and a woman Marine officer were also assigned.7
Only one provision of the final plan was not wholly satisfactory to Director Hobby. This was the requirement that the WAC use the Army system of computing point scores for discharge eligibility; G-1 Division considered it uneconomical and confusing to print and distribute separate cards and separate instructions for women. Of the four factors that determined a final score, only one really fit the WAC -"length of service." Of the others, "number of children" was manifestly inapplicable, since women with children had not been allowed to enlist after the first month of recruiting. Most "combat decorations" were also inapplicable, since women had not been admitted to combat, although they received Bronze Stars and lesser awards. "Overseas service" applied, but in the wrong way, since overseas service for Wacs had been generally considered a privilege, and those without it were often more in need of discharge than those with it.
No inequity was caused by the fact that men's scores computed under this system necessarily ran higher than women's, since the WAC was guaranteed an equal percentage of reduction. The inequity occurred among members of the WAC, where those with overseas service outscored those who had enlisted long before them. Nevertheless, this difficulty was not at the time deemed prohibitive, as less than one fifth of the Wacs had been overseas. In a quick demobilization, numbers of those at home would go out almost as fast as women abroad could be returned for separation.
With the understanding that Wacs would get equal discharge percentages on length of service, and after seeing some 2,500 women demobilized under the system, Colonel Hobby resigned.8 Less than a month later, the sudden defeat of Japan disrupted both Army and WAC plans for demobilization: the armed forces found themselves powerless to stem the tide of public demand for more immediate and drastic action than had earlier been deemed wise.
Action Following V-J Day
In the ensuing scramble, the WAC was overlooked in War Department press releases. Public announcements were made about the future demobilization of Army men, and the Navy issued announcements about its men and about the WAVES, SPARS, and Women Marines, but nothing was said about the WAC's plans.9 The WAC discharge score was left at 44. where it had been since May, a score that allowed no Wacs in the United States to be separated on length of service. Women who had no children and no overseas service could not have accumulated more than 36 points even had they enlisted on the day the WAAC began.
The new Director, Colonel Boyce, undertook a tour of training centers and service commands to check on the situation. She was immediately struck by the overwhelming sentiment of Wacs in the field in favor of quick demobilization,
especially of women with long monotonous service in the zone of the interior. She reported: "There is a growing feeling among WAC personnel with long Zone of the Interior service on isolated posts that they are: being discriminated against" by discharge of overseas Wacs with shorter service. Colonel Boyce therefore recommended "'an early press release in order that the questions in the minds of the Wacs, the public, and Congress may be answered." She expressed herself in favor of beginning AC demobilization in the zone of the interior by dropping the point score from 44 to 30, thus allowing demobilization of women who had enlisted in the Auxiliary's first six months, even if they had had no overseas service.10
Colonel Boyce's recommendations were not favorably considered by the War Department. On the day following her request, General Henry spoke before the Military Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, giving only the plan for demobilization of men.11 Colonel Boyce at once protested:
. . . the inadvertent omission of any reference to the lowering of the point score [for women J is particularly unfortunate in view of . . . my memorandum. It is hoped that an immediate decision will be reached. When the necessary policy decisions are made, this office will prepare a separate War Department release on the future of the WAC, to try to offset the detrimental effect of past silence.12
A week later the War Department decided on a drop in the point score. It proved to be a disappointment; since the drop was from 44 to only 41 for enlisted Wacs, instead of to 30. WAC officers' scores were set at 44. This score still prevented the discharge of Wacs in the United States, some 85 percent of the Corps. Since overseas theaters, with most of the discharge eligibles, were extremely slow about returning Wacs, the result was that almost no women moved toward separation centers.13
With this announcement, the Director's Office was all but submerged in a wave of bitter letters from Wacs in the field. Even before she received these protests; Colonel Boyce in September drafted a memorandum pointing out that, when the men's score dropped to 80 points, the WAC score should drop to 33, if the percentage of Wacs allowed to go home was to equal the percentage of men leaving. This memorandum was not sent. In the meantime the War Department had directed that on 1 October the men's score was to fall further, to 60 points, but the Wacs' only to 36, and that in November, when the enlisted men's score fell to 55, the Wacs' would fall only to 34.
Thus, six months after V-E Day, the principle of equal discharge percentages on point scores was abrogated, and no Wacs in the United States, except the handful of enlisted women who had en rolled during the Auxiliary's first two months, were yet eligible for discharge on the basis of points.14
Slowing of WAC Demobilization
What had actually been repudiated was the plan that the percentages of Wacs
to be discharged on length of service should not be affected by the numbers discharged because they were veterans' wives or for any other reason. Even before Colonel Hobby left, G-1 Division's Statistical Branch had objected to this system, saying:
In order that the relative importance and prestige of the WAC be maintained throughout the entire demobilization period, it seems necessary that the present WAC percentage of the total Army strength be maintained . . . . Although the WAC is under moral obligation to release women who have performed long and arduous service, yet . . . it seems necessary to sacrifice a few for the good of the many. 15
Attrition losses were by this time considerable. First, several thousand veterans' wives had been discharged. Next, the Army let men and women over 38 years old leave if they wished, and some 7,000 more women were made eligible for discharge. No sooner were these gone than the outcry of nonveteran husbands forced the release of all married women. Their discharge was authorized regardless of length of service, at the same time that men with three or more children became eligible for discharge regardless of length of service. The WAC took this step reluctantly, and only at the insistence of G-1 Division, and after the Nurse Corps, WAVES, SPARS, and Marines had already taken it, since this made 13,000 more women eligible. In order to maintain Corps strength after recruiting had ceased, these women had been substituted on the monthly demobilization quota for those who would ordinarily have been made eligible by a lowering of point scores comparable to that of the men's scores.16
Even more significant for the future was the refusal of the General Staff to approve public announcement of the final demobilization date of the WAC, still tentatively set as June 1946. At the same time, the Navy Department was also considering holding the WAVES beyond the originally scheduled June date, over the protest of the WAVES leaders.17 This delay, in all the armed forces, was generally related to the discovery that the need for the skills common among female personnel had been underestimated, to an extent that raised doubts as to whether enlisted women could be allowed to leave at the same rate as enlisted men. Overseas theaters in particular had resolutely refused to face the fact that the WAC could never be entirely demobilized; as required by law, until male replacements were accepted for discharged Wacs. In justification for its action in retaining discharge eligibles, the European theater pointed out that, when it had returned a few women for discharge, these had not been separated as men were, but had been pulled out by Army Service Forces' separation centers to process men for discharge, on the grounds of "military necessity.18
The Army Service Forces informed the War Department that, in order to main-
tain separation centers, 5,000 Wacs should be transferred from the Air and Ground Forces. Both Air and Ground Forces offered objections. AGF was hard-pressed to find enough Wacs to replace high-point men in its commanding general's office in Washington and at the Army War College. It was in fact preparing to request the War Department to remove Wacs from other commands in order to fill its needs. For this reason, the War Department was able to allot ASF only 2,600 of the requested 5,000 and was obliged to direct the AAF to furnish all of them.19
Over the issue of demobilization, WAC leaders split into two opposing camps those who believed that WAC demobilization should be effected in accordance with original commitments to former Director Hobby, and those who favored keeping as many women as possible as long as possible, in the hope that Congress would authorize some type of peacetime group. By what appeared more than coincidence, the majority of Wacs who supported a permanent Corps, or desired to remain in one, were those whose service had been chiefly overseas. The nonsupporters included the WAC advisers in almost all air, ground, and service commands in the United States, the most eager to depart being those whose service had been entirely in the War Department.
These officers' desire for a speedy demobilization was based on various factors. There was at the time no prospect of a Regular Army corps, and it seemed futile to keep a handful of women on an ambiguous status. In addition, a recent Information and Education Division survey showed that only 2 percent of the enlisted women were actively interested in remaining, and that these constituted the Corps' bottom 2 percent from the point of view of education, maturity, and ability.20 Just before WAC recruiting ended, Colonel Boyce reported that, with the WAC Recruiting Service disbanded,
. . the recruits received since V-E Day include an increasingly high number of Grade IV's and V's despite outstanding directives that only the equivalent to Grade III's or better are acceptable .... It is the opinion of recruiting officers that the number and quality of enlistments will decrease as time goes on.21
There were also reports from the field, such as one from a staff director who wrote:
We have noticed a definite change in the attitude of male officers and enlisted personnel toward the WAC since the cessation of hostilities .... Present pressure for demobilization will undoubtedly influence public opinion against the wearer of the uniform . . . . Today the majority of the people in America would give us a vote of confidence. I am fearful that four months from now the fickle public will be questioning the reason for women being in uniform . . . . I am leaving in any event.22
An additional objection, as voiced by Colonel Bandel, was the belief that peacetime Army life, as contrasted to emergency wartime service, presented an unnatural situation for a woman. A woman choosing the Army for a thirty-year career would,
she stated, have to face the fact that her husband could not be considered a dependent and thus could not live with her on a military post. If he was an Army man he could live on the post, if by chance the stations of husband and wife coincided, but questions would arise as to who took the social status and quarters of whom. In any case, if Wacs married, the loss from pregnancy would be high, or a woman bent on a career could not permit herself any children. Under the circumstances, while most Army career men lived normal lives with homes and families, it appeared that career women would be denied both.23
WAC Effort To hasten Demobilization
In September, Colonel Boyce left for the Pacific without having secured a decision on the Corps' future. In November, Acting Director Helen Woods made a final effort to secure total demobilization. In a memorandum for the new Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, General Paul, she recommended that the Corps' fourth birthday, 14 May 1946, be chosen for the closing date, and that the WAC go out proudly in a burst of ceremonies and with the public announcement that the War Department had requested Congress to bestow Reserve status on all women who had served honorably. By the Corps' fourth birthday, its strength would have been reduced to about 20.000 after which point, said Colonel Woods, it would be "unsound economically and administratively to keep the Corps in operation at a figure much below this." 24
Colonel Woods was later reinforced in her position by written memoranda from the Army Service Forces WAC Officer arid the Army Ground Forces WAC Officer. The ASF WAC Officer, Colonel Goodwin, concurred in the choice of the WAC fourth anniversary as closing day, for WAC officers as well as enlisted women, since officers would not be vitally needed with the women gone. The AGF WAC Officer, Colonel Davis, likewise urged speedy demobilization, but preferred the thirteenth of June as the final deadline.25
The Air WAC Officer, Colonel Bandel, had already taken a more practical step. Taking advantage of an obscure provision that gave the Air Forces the right to discharge its women as well as its men at its own rates, she persuaded her headquarters to release Air Forces Wacs as fast as it was releasing AAF men. This at once cut the critical score for Air Wacs from 34 to 18, and opened floodgates which by December had let out of the Army all but 10,000 of the AAF's 39,000 Wacs, and which threatened by the fourth anniversary to have settled the dispute, at least for the Air Forces, in a most effective manner.26
At this point, Colonel Boyce abandoned her overseas tour and hurried home, recording the fact that
. . . information received by the Director WAC in a reletype conference with her office on Saturday, 10 November, indicated that plans and policies affecting the future of the Corps were being discussed, and she felt it
advisable for her to return to Washington rather than complete the tour.27
Colonel Boyce returned to a War Department that had been virtually taken over by the staff of the European theater. As a result of the high caliber and skills of WAC personnel employed in wartime by that theater, the idea of a permanent Corps was now favorably viewed by General Eisenhower as Chief of Staff, General Paul as G-1, General Devers as AGF commander, and Generals Spaatz and Eaker as AAF commanders.
Soon after Colonel Boyce's return, the Air Forces' independent discharge authority, insofar as it concerned women only, was withdrawn. Thereafter the WAC critical score fell slowly. By January of 1946 the score remained at 32 points or two and a half years' service.28
WAC officers' scores fell even more slowly; on I November the score of~37 was adopted, the first point at which any WAC officer who had not served overseas became eligible for discharge. At this score, 800 veteran officers from the first classes became eligible, including many of the key officers of the WAC. In January those officers with three years and three months of service were also released. It proved difficult to lower the WAC officers' score much more, since few had been commissioned since 1943, and all but one tenth had three years of service by the spring of 1946.29
Cessation of WAC Demobilization
In the first days of January 1946, the War Department was faced with the necessity of slowing all demobilization, an unpopular move that was to produce a crisis in Army public relations.30 At this time the issue was finally forced as to whether the WAC should be retained after June of 1946. A memorandum in Colonel Boyce's file indicated that she or her staff prepared one last strong objection to retaining the WAC:
It is the considered opinion and urgent recommendation of the Director WAC that the enlisted personnel and administrative officers of the Corps be demobilized by the end of the fiscal year, 30 June 1946.31
Six different objections were advanced: First, as WAC units shrank, constant and expensive transfer and consolidation would be necessary. Second, "it is not efficient or economical to continue to utilize WAC personnel beyond a minimum strength level, since administration and supply become impractical at a certain point." Third, "it is becoming increasingly apparent that, with an indeterminate demobilization date for the Corps, utilizing agencies are finding it impossible to plan intelligently on the use of Wacs." Fourth, morale would become steadily worse as women waited for long-delayed information. Fifth, "the public relations aspects of having the Corps dwindle to small scattered groups of personnel remaining to an undecided date are highly undesirable." Sixth, embarrassing errors would be inevitable in view of the uncertainty as to
whether the services would be merged, the Air Forces made independent, or the Army placed on a peacetime basis. As a result, the WAC recommendation concluded, "'It is not practical to contemplate an Interim WAC."
This proposal was rejected by G-1 Division. Instead, General Paul recommended that the WAC be retained indefinitely, possibly as long as the Army retained any non-Regular Army men. He explained the action to a Senate committee, saying:
We fully expect to have a small permanent group of women in the Army . . . . For that reason the directive did not direct the abolishment of all of our women from the Army by June 30 . . . . The women have done a very outstanding job in this war. and in line with getting more men out of the Army we should use every available replacement we can get.32
The stoppage of the critical score for women was approved by the Chief of Staff, General Eisenhower, in a directive that stated: "There is a potential shortage of skilled personnel for utilization in the Interim Army." 33 At the same time the Navy Department also decided to retain the WAVES beyond June 1946, although only on a volunteer status with offer of inducements to remain. This policy was adopted over the nonconcurrence of the WAVES director. The women Marines were likewise retained. Only the SPARS managed to secure demobilization by June 1946.34
Accordingly, the War Department announced that the release of Wacs with twenty-four months' service would be delayed from April to June, and that those with less than twenty-four months would not be released until some indefinite future date. The men's discharge rate was also slowed, but their critical score, which had been twice as great as the Wacs' in the beginning, fell so rapidly that by June it was identical with the Wacs', and remained so thereafter.
With this decision to hold the Women's Army Corps involuntarily, there ended a sixth-month period in which Colonel Hobby's policies for demobilization had been gradually but completely reversed. As the WAC headed into the troublesome two-year interim period ahead, the face of the Corps was completely altered by the departure of those in key spots and their replacement by officers who approved of the new policy. First to go, in December of 1945, were Colonels Bandel and Rice; Colonel Bandel left the Air Forces only after having successfully demobilized three fourths of her women. Colonel Woods left in February; Colonel Goodwin stayed only for the inactivation of the Army Service Forces in June. Within a few months almost every wartime WAC leader had left the Corps: fifteen of the seventeen women who had been wartime service command staff directors, and almost all of their assistant staff directors.35 twenty-three of the twenty-five wartime
air command directors,36 and all of the Army Ground Forces staff directors in field commands.37 All wartime staff directors of overseas theaters also left, even including such strong advocates of a permanent Corps as Colonel Wilson, who left to be married, and Colonel Brown, who returned to the Veterans' Administration.38 After Colonel Bandel, two more Air WAC Officers left in rapid succession;39 and after Colonel Davis, two more AGF WAC Officers elected discharge." 40 The ASF WAC Officer's only assistant left with her when the Service Forces closed.41 The only Wac to have been a training center commandant, Colonel Strayhorn, likewise departed. All former officers of Colonel Hobby's staff elected discharge.
Colonel Boyce's office-like most other General Staff sections-was now entirely staffed with officers from the European and Mediterranean theaters. For her new deputy she chose Lt. Col. Mary A. Hallaren, former staff director of the Air Forces in Europe, in civilian life a teacher and lecturer for women's groups, and a strong advocate of a peacetime WAC.
While some 20,000 members of the Women's Army Corps were held in service by the frozen discharge criteria, the other 80,000 were in the process of leaving it. A year before, the commitment had been secured that women would be separated at only five of the many separation centers for men, to permit the assignment of specialists in women's medical and vocational problems. With the beginning of demobilization, women began to be processed through these five centers-Fort Dix, Fort Bragg, Camp Beale, Fort Sheridan, and Fort Sam Houston. Fort Des Moines was added at a later date.42
Although these centers had a year's advance warning, the idea of adequate facilities for women and of skilled processing teams never was brought to fruition at all of them. War Department inspectors early discovered that medical teams examining women lacked gynecological specialists; a woman doctor was shortly ordered to each of the five centers, to be responsible for detecting gynecological disorders requiring treatment.43
At Camp Beale, physical surroundings here found to be undesirable and only a few women a day could be processed, with others waiting indefinitely.44 At Fort Dix, barracks were overcrowded and unsanitary. Some correction was undertaken, but a full year later hundreds of Wacs at Fort Dix still had to wait over a week for sepa-
VOCATION COUNSELING al the separation center, Fort Des Moines.
ration, since only 35 could be processed daily.
Eventually a series of incidents of illness and improper housing caused a War Department survey team to be sent to visit all five centers. Only Fort Des Moines received unqualified praise from this team. Here were employed medical officers and vocational counselors experienced in women's needs, and a final impressive ceremony with a band sent women away in an apparent glow of good will. Fort Sheridan was also praised for its separation ceremonies, in which men and women participated together.45 A later limited survey showed that only about 3 percent of women in some areas had received any of the prescribed counseling prior to discharge. Even in these cases, counselors had little or no information on job opportunities for women.46
The War Department overlooked female personnel in most of its directives on separation. It was discovered that all reference to women had been omitted from the official War Department pamphlet, Going Back to Civilian Life, which was given to each person leaving the service to inform him of his rights and responsibilities and of the assistance available to him. This pamphlet was often inapplicable to Wacs, who did not have to report to Selective Service boards, could not join the Reserve or National Guard, had different dependency rules, had special provisions concerning WAAC service, and experienced other unique problems of status. Accordingly, a
WAC supplement to the pamphlet was hastily published, but this did not reach the field until 1946, when more than half of the Corps had already been separated.47
At the same time, it was discovered that instructions to separation centers had neglected to provide for entry concerning Auxiliary service anywhere on the standard discharge records, and former members of the WAAC experienced difficulty in securing credit for this service when seeking employment. This deficiency was discovered by Colonel Rice in the midst of her own separation. When informed that no official proof could be given her of her fifteen months' WAAC service, she returned to G-1 Division, wrote and processed a corrective circular, and came back, bearing a certified copy, to complete her discharge. Five necessary special notations for women were discovered to be missing. Again, it was not possible to remedy these omissions in time to assist many women.48
Women returning from overseas appeared especially in need of some preparation for what awaited them. Wacs from the European and Mediterranean theaters were reportedly startled by the attitude of the civilian population toward Wacs, and by the accommodations offered troops in the United States, which were far less favorable than those overseas. Colonel Boyce's office therefore devised a plan whereby trained WAC convoy officers met and accompanied each returning group, and gently broke the news about life in the United States.49
In spite of minor difficulties, confusion, and lack of counseling, most Wacs, like the men, had little trouble in surviving the brief passage through separation centers. All Wacs reverted to inactive status, since Congress had authorized Reserve status only for men and Navy women. Colonel Boyce's office considered a survey of these WAC veterans, such as had been made for men, in order to discover how the separation process might be improved, but she was informed by Information and Education Division, which now had only a small staff; that such a plan for women would encounter "resistance," and at any rate survey results would be too late to assist the Army in processing women.50
Veterans' Administration Policy
10 evaluate further the results of the demobilization process, the Veterans' Administration in May of 1946 undertook a WAC survey as a part of its survey of male veterans. As expected, it was found that women experienced much the same readjustment difficulties as enlisted men; plus a number of their own. Women were found to be taking jobs more slowly and in smaller proportionate numbers than men. Although 89 percent had been working before enlistment, only about half were found, three or four months after discharge, to be employed. The remainder were housewives, students, job-seekers, or "just resting." Even when they took a job,
women showed almost twice as great a tendency as men to leave it. Only 22 percent of women went back to their former employment, although twice as great a percentage of men did so. Many of those women who did go back expressed dissatisfaction. To some extent the women's reluctance to go back to their old work seemed due to their desire to find work that offered the degree of responsibility learned in the service.
To a much greater extent than the male veterans, women had related their future plans to the skill they had acquired in the service, but only two in five employed women were able to use their service gained experience on their new jobs. Others were prevented from doing so by the low salaries offered them, by unwillingness of employers to give credit for military experience, and by the refusal of civilian employers to hire women in unusual jobs if men were available. Those least likely to be able to use their skill were those trained in technical work usually thought of as men's jobs: radio operator, mechanic, aircraft specialist, and others. About the same percentage of women as of men had applied for readjustment allowances, and about the same percent had entered school. Fewer women than men were interested in loans to buy a home or to go into business.51
Army psychiatrists expressed fear that women's readjustment would be more difficult than that of men, since
Even more than men, these women have become unsuited to their former civilian environment because the change in their Pattern of life was more radical . . . . Most of them have matured, have broader interests, and a new and finer sense of values.52
However, few Wacs reported worse effects than "nervousness and a feeling of strangeness, tiredness"; "lack of real concern for seemingly unimportant things"; "a failure of family and friends to accept me as a responsible individual." Some found themselves "lacking in initiative"; others, "too bossy." Possibly the worst generally reported result was "a lost feeling . . .lack of interest in former friends or environment . . . an inability to find work 51 which seemed really vital.53
The returning female veteran also found that the jokes and stories on WAC morals had preceded her into civilian life. As one Wac put it, "I discovered that it is best not to mention my army career due to the unfortunate stigma attached to the WAC." 54 The head of the New York Veterans Service Committee, Mrs. Anna Rosenberg, reported: "Many [women veterans] have been disillusioned and discouraged by a cold reception from various women's groups.55
To combat such hindrances to readjustment, various plans were invoked. The National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs launched its Servicewomen's Project, by which local club members assisted returning service women in job counseling and placement. The Retraining and Reemployment Ad ministration employed the former head of the SPARS, Capt. Dorothy C. Stratton, to insure that women were not overlooked in its mission of guiding civilian communities in reintegrating veterans and war workers. Still another government agency,
the U.S. Office of Education, requested its state offices to assist women veterans. Possibly the most extensive assistance came from the WAC's National Civilian Advisory Committee members, under a plan whereby a woman could obtain assistance in career planning by mailing a card to her service command advisory committee. Results were generally excellent, especially in the Second Service Command, where over a thousand women were assisted.56
The Veterans' Administration itself, as reorganized by Gen. Omar N. Bradley, was in a position to render greatest assistance, and therefore designated a returning employee; Colonel Brown, to act as adviser on women veterans. General Bradley directed that women be hired in policymaking jobs by Veterans' Administration local offices, "in view of the large number of women veterans who have served in World War II and the great number of widows or wives of veterans who are entitled to Military Preference.57 General Bradley also obtained the services of the Army's senior woman medical officer, Colonel Craighill, to survey hospitals where women veterans were receiving care, and to prevent recurrence of previous difficulties.58
A Veterans' Administration survey showed that a considerable number of women veterans were refused recognition as such, not only by civilians and private employers, but even by government agencies, which were unaware that the women's services had legally been taken into the Army and Navy. Other agencies had apparently overlooked the women accidentally, although the combined strength of the various women's services had been around 370,000, between 2 and 3 percent of the armed forces. In other cases, the failure to recognize women as veterans was not accidental, as when one of the major veterans' organizations amended its constitution and bylaws for the purpose of excluding women from membership. 59
Since former Waacs who had joined the WAC had no re-employment rights, the National Civilian Advisory Committee recommended that legislation be sought for their relief. The Army Service Forces nonconcurred on grounds that this would "create situations of great complexity" where employers had replaced Waacs with others on a permanent basis. Nevertheless, the legislation was finally obtained, although not until August of 1946, long after the last of the former Auxiliaries became eligible for discharge." 60
The majority of Wacs had returned to civilian life by the time the War Department arrived at the decision to request
that Congress allow reserve status to be offered to Wacs, as it was to men and to Waves.61 Reserve corps status had been recommended to Colonel Hobby, soon after V-E Day, by the General Staffs Reserve Policy Committee, which expressed the desire to seek immediate legislation "rather than to await the enactment of enabling legislation when an emergency was upon us." 62 Colonel Hobby gave tentative approval to such legislation only insofar as it concerned an officers' reserve. She disapproved of an enlisted reserve, and desired that even the officers' reserve be limited to three women officers on active duty in the War Department to formulate policy, with all others on inactive status. To maintain the officers' reserve, she agreed to the eventual establishment of an ROTC system similar to the men's. Any more extensive system would, she felt, be uneconomical because of the high attrition expected among female reserves by reason of marriage and motherhood, which would render many members ineligible for recall.63
These ideas were at first endorsed by Colonel Boyce when she succeeded Colonel Hobby at this point in the planning. Colonel Boyce stated that "need does not exist for the services or training of enlisted women at this time."64 Within a few weeks, after repeated conferences with members of G-1 Division, Colonel Boyce was led to admit the possibility of an enlisted reserve. Her office also devised detailed schemes for a female ROTC, which, it was pointed out, would be less costly than the men's, since only six months' basic training would be required, instead of the two years needed by men. For the men's advanced specialized courses, it was proposed to substitute courses in hospital administration, cryptanalysis, military administration, and similar subjects.65
The War Department split into opposing groups when legislation to this effect was proposed by the Reserve Policy Committee. When consulted, G-2, G-3, OPD, and the Commanding General, Army Service Forces, objected to reserve status for women.66 G-3 was willing to take wartime Wacs into an inactive reserve and let it die gradually without replacements, since "it may be politic" to make this gesture. In a recommendation quite similar to one of twenty years before, these divisions proposed that "planning on this subject be carried out in the regular General Staff Divisions without special provisions of female personnel on duty in the War Department for that purpose.
On the other hand, G-1, G-4, and the Executive for Reserve and ROTC Affairs favored full reserve status for women. G-1 offered the recommendation that the WAC reserve system should parallel the men's reserve system exactly. The Executive for Reserve and ROTC added:
It is recognized that women . . . will be used in time of war; therefore it is deemed essential to have a nucleus which is available in times of emergency . . . . To ignore the women of the country might create an opposition to the Army. 67
The General Staff referred the conflicting opinions to Special Planning Division for preparation of a recommendation to the Chief of Staff.68 Special Planning Divisions final recommendation to the Chief of Staff was adverse. It was proposed that female nurses, dietitians, and physiotherapists be offered reserve status, but as for Wacs, the study concluded: "The awarding of Inactive Reserve commissions to present and former WAC officers is not considered a desirable or effective gesture of recognition." 69
This recommendation had the somewhat peculiar effect of reversing the sentiments of the WAC staff as to the wisdom of a women's Reserve. Acting Director Woods pointed out that an inactive and unreplenished women's Reserve would cost exactly nothing, and that the deliberate omission of the WAC from this status, if it was to be awarded to every other women's service of the Army and Navy, could only be construed by the public as a condemnation of the WAC's wartime record. She noted that the using agencies-the Air Forces, Ground Forces, service commands, and overseas theaters had not been allowed to comment, although they, having employed WAC personnel, were the only agencies in a position to assess the usefulness of the WAC. She added:
The Director WAC does not consider it her function to comment upon the Army's need, beyond pointing out that the usefulness of women members in a wartime army is no longer a matter of speculation. The WAC has made a record of service, either good or bad, during the three years of its existence. The War Department should evaluate that record, then plan and act accordingly.70
G-1 Division endorsed the WAC comments to
the Chief of Staff, saying:
It is believed that such action in respect to the WAC would place the War Department in an untenable position at this time when every, effort is being made to utilize the experience gained in the war . . . . The Corps represents an investment which should not be lost to the Army.'71
This broadside was successful, but the results were more than the Office of the Director had bargained for. Planners were, as requested, directed by the Chief of Staff to get the opinion of the agencies that had employed Wacs, but the response of these agencies was to sweep the WAC into acceptance of a Regular Army Corps, instead of an inactive reserve, which was all that the Director had desired.
Plans for a Regular Army WAC
The recommendations received from the using commands on the inactive reserve proposal led the new G-1, General Paul, to direct Colonel Boyce to prepare an alternate plan for a small permanent force, to be either in the Regular Army or in a new type of active reserve. The Office of the Director complied, although expressing disfavor, saying that the Army would not desire such a group unless it was as efficient as in the past, which appeared impossible.72
Reactions to the plan revealed that foremost among the advocates of a Regular Army WAC was the Army Ground
Forces, which not only replied favorably to the General Staffs inquiry, but imported from the European theater a staff of planners, including the former ETO staff director, Colonel Wilson. General Devers expressed surprise that no previous plan had been made to request legislation and that there was "some resistance to WAC planning at the War Department staff level." No less enthusiastic support came from the Army Air Forces under its new heads, General Spaatz and his deputy, General Eaker, who declared: "If I have anything to do with it, there will be a place for women in the Regular Air Force.73 The Army Service Forces offered no such approbation; General Dalton stated that "in the event of an emergency, women specialists could be commissioned directly from civilian life to meet the demand."74
Considerable outside support for continuation of the WAC also began to appear from the American Association of University Women and other women's groups and from individuals like Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, who went so far as to favor universal military training for both men and women, saying, "While the men were receiving scientific training, women would be trained in dietetics, nursing, and the like, so they could serve in peace as well as in war.75
In conference with General Eisenhower, Colonel Boyce again urged that he announce only the Reserve plan, and postpone the Regular Army plan for later decision. Since demobilized Wacs were scattering rapidly, she favored a quick request to Congress for power to offer them Reserve status, after which the more controversial issue of a permanent Corps could be fought out at leisure.76 General Paul overrode this recommendation, fearing that Congress would consider only one bill. He therefore substituted a plan for a bill to ask simultaneous Reserve and Regular Army status, the adoption of which seemed to him by this time so certain that he informed a Senate committee of the plan. This was followed, on 5 February 1946, by the formal announcement to the Army that the Chief of Staff had directed the drafting of legislation "for the establishment of a Women's Army Corps in the Regular Army with concurrent Reserve Corps status." The same directive also provided for plans for an Army Nurse Corps and a Women's Medical Specialist Corps in the Regular Army and Reserve Corps.77
At once the expected delay and controversy descended on the Army, leaving the WAC's future uncertain. Public, Congressional, and military opposition were found to be so strong that General Eisenhower delayed issuing a public announcement to the press. When cornered by reporters on 5 March 1946, he stated that the question was "still under study," and when asked "No plan has reached you
yet?" he replied, "None has gone out of the War Department." 78
None was, in fact, to go out of the War Department for another year, or to be voted on for still another.
Meanwhile, the demobilization of the last 20,000 members of the wartime WAC entered its final phase, without benefit of a firm decision on the Corps' future. In order to slow departure, General Paul authorized, over Colonel Boyce's nonconcurrence, a volunteer program in which enlisted women were told that "General Eisenhower is calling upon the Women's Army Corps to remain in operation . . . . The Army is turning to the WAC for help in the manpower emergency." 79
Response to the volunteer program was not enthusiastic. Although "without exception, headquarters personnel were anxious to retain Wacs,80 the enlisted women showed a tendency to desire more specific information as to their eligibility for future careers if they remained, which could not be given them. Those able to keep more of their women included the hospitals, the Transportation Corps, and the Fifth and Seventh Army Areas. Very few-from none to fifty women-volunteered to remain with the Army Ground Forces, the Signal Corps, The Adjutant General, the Chemical Warfare Service, or the Ordnance Department.81
At the same time, also over Colonel Boyce's nonconcurrence, General Paul authorized a re-entry program to maintain Corps strength. While new recruits could not be accepted for lack of a training center, discharged Wacs were allowed to reenter through regular recruiting stations.
In spite of all efforts, the Corps dwindled rapidly. Toward the end of 1946, the War Department permitted the departure of all men except those enlisting in the Regular Army, and all women except volunteers. At this time, with the departure of nonvolunteer Wacs, there remained of the wartime Corps only 8,461 enlisted women and 1,194 officers. 82 These women, interested in a permanent career, had already waited eighteen months since the end of the war for a decision. Another eighteen months of uncertainty awaited them. Colonel Boyce called upon WAC officers for "experienced advice and leadership that will carry our women through the waiting period." adding that "they have been good soldiers and have waited for definite word so they can plan their future. They do not understand why word has been so long in coming."83
With the decrease in size and the departure of many leaders, the Corps in a few months found most of its wartime advances swept away, and itself in a situation distressingly similar to that of the old Auxiliary in the worst of its early days. Supplies were scarce, and units in the field
were for months unable to get either clothing maintenance or salvage. Job assignments reverted promptly to unmilitary duties in "service capacities" and as servants in civilian messes, quarters, and nurseries.84 Applicants for re-entry "practically had to fight their way back into the Army,"85 AS having been told at recruiting stations that male recruiters "did not know anything about the WAC," and to "go home and forget it." 86
Director Hobby's minimum safety requirements vanished rapidly. Women were assigned in less than company units, without WAC officers in command. Because of the small numbers of Wacs, only the Army areas could now be required to have staff directors. Friction resulted as technical services again objected to supervision out of channels. All medical and psychiatric consultants for women left the Medical Department, and protective medical circulars lapsed. All specialists left the Bureau of Public Relations, and news stories again featured "khaki panties." 87 Policy powers were removed from Colonel Boyce's office and given to other General Staff sections, but numerous operating duties were returned to it, upon the abolition of specialist groups elsewhere-an approximation of the old WAAC system. 88
Enough company commanders with previous experience could not be obtained, and none of the new Army area staff directors had served as such in wartime. Station commanders, many of whom had recently returned from overseas, were often unfamiliar with WAC administration. Some declared Army Regulations inapplicable, others refused to allow visits by WAC staff directors, and one moved a group of amazed WAC veterans to a floodlighted barbed-wire compound.89
Breaking with previous policy, General Paul returned small groups of Wacs overseas, where many served in units of no more than a dozen women without a com-
pany officer." 90 In another reversal of Director Hobby's policies, he offered promise of overseas service to re-entries, a move which produced a morale crisis and charges of a "dirty deal" from Wacs still in the United States.91 Because of faulty screening by male recruiters at recruiting stations, these re-entries when shipped overseas brought protests of "inferior quality" from theaters. Shipments included epileptics, manic-depressives, women just court-martialed, "homosexuals, alcoholics, and promiscuous women." 92 To improve the shipments, Colonel Boyce asked General Paul to send one WAC enlisted woman to each Army area-a total of six women, as against the 4,000 specialists who had once managed WAC recruiting-but this request was disapproved by General Paul as "wasteful of personnel." 93 Eventually the re-entry program was discontinued after getting only 1,690 women, more than half of whom required quick discharge as undesirables.94
All such problems, although inevitable in the attempt to hold a small Corps during the chaotic days of Army demobilization, caused considerable uneasiness to the Director. She feared particularly that the wartime WAC's good record would be damaged and Congress alienated.95
Regular Army legislation, toward which WAC leaders looked to end the chaos of the interim period, progressed haltingly. Colonel Boyce's advice was not always accepted on provisions, nor was she kept in close touch with planning.96 She had recommended that Colonel McCoskrie be assigned to G-1 Division to draft legislation, but the work was instead given to an officer with no previous knowledge of the Corps.97 Her suggestion for simple legislation with complete integration, such as that drafted for the WAVES,
WAF, and women Marines, was rejected. Instead, the draft legislation provided for a separate corps with separate grades, as in Auxiliary days. A separate promotion list was provided, on the ground that WAC officers "could not be transferred into the other Arms and Services."98 Women officers were limited to one temporary colonel and no more than 10 percent lieutenant colonels, as against 14 percent lieutenant colonels and 8 percent colonels for men.99 Because of these low ranks, weeks more of delay resulted as special retirement rules and predicted attrition schedules were worked out.100
In another reversal of wartime policy, direct commissions were authorized for civilian women, since no ROTC training was authorized for women. In still another reversal, the age limit for enlistment was dropped to 18 years, a move that Director Hobby had several times rejected as dangerous.101
In the spring of 1947, Deputy Director Hallaren stated, "We felt that if we do not get it [legislation] in this session, we might as well quit; women interested in planning a career will give up and go home.102 By March, the legislation was at last believed satisfactory to the War Department and ready for introduction into Congress. At this time Colonel Boyce, who had been hospitalized since late January, elected to leave the Army and the Acting Director and former Deputy, Colonel Hallaren, assumed office on 5 May 1947 as the third Director WAC.103
On 15 April 1947, the WAC Integration Act of 1947 was introduced in Congress, and eventually was approved unanimously on the Senate floor. Everything appeared favorable to a speedy passage. Endorsements had been received from almost all important women's groups, and a Gallup poll disclosed that a majority of the American public-a majority of men as well as of women also favored peacetime status.104 General Eisenhower in 1946 took the step that General Marshall had taken two years before, and wrote personally to field commanders to request their support.105 These measures proved inadequate to prevent another year's delay.106 During this time there ensued an attack from the same source that in wartime had crippled WAC recruiting: Army men and veterans, articles in soldier magazines, and letters to the editor.107
Representative Margaret Chase Smith said that she had been told that the opposition stemmed from "off-the-record statements" made to Armed Services Committee members by "duly authorized
officer representatives of the Navy Department." 108 Representative Dewey Short of Missouri stated, without revealing his informants, that, "as far as the high officers are concerned, and from major down to second lieutenant, and an overwhelming majority of the enlisted men, they are against the Corps." 109 Representative Leroy Johnson of California explained:
The sad part about this is that we have only heard from a few top bracket men in the Army, and in asking questions I found that there were many, many officers in the Army who are not sure that it is the right thing to do to make these women a part of the Regular Establishment. They have never had a chance to be heard.110
Although Representative Frances P. Bolton said, "It seems to me that we should know why the Armed Services differ so definitely from the heads of services," no committee member made this clear. A member noted, "There are several aspects to this bill that I do not care to discuss here publicly." One representative exclaimed, "If we could only discuss publicly on the floor of the House those things that we discussed behind closed doors!"111 The anonymous opposition became so general that early in 1948 Secretary of the Army Kenneth C. Royall reopened the question before the War Council as to whether the armed services should continue to sponsor the legislation. After a study of the "contribution and performance" of the wartime women's services, the position of the heads of the services remained unchanged.112
On 23 March 1948 the House Armed Services Committee voted, 26-1, to pass only the Reserve part of the legislation. The one dissenting vote belonged to Congresswoman Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, the only woman member of the committee.113
Representative Smith offered an amendment to put the Regular Army provisions back in the bill. When this was defeated, she immediately offered another to limit the Reserves to 10 officers and 25 enlisted women on active duty for not more than two years at a time, stating that she intended to make sure that armed forces did not employ large numbers of women "just as you would Regulars without giving them Regular status." This amendment was also defeated, and the bill was passed by the House authorizing only a Reserve.
The matter now took on an especial urgency, with only two months remaining before the date in June of 1948 upon which the wartime Corps, as part of the Army of the United States, must be disbanded because of the expiration of legislative authority for its continuance. Whatever the opinion of the anonymous Army man, the heads of the several services in all of that spring's hearings rallied to the support of the bill in a display of strength unprecedented in Corps history. Those who personally appeared before the armed services committees included Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal, Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, Paul, and Brig. Gen. George Ellis Armstrong; Gen. Hoyt S.
Vandenberg and Brig. Gen. Dean C. Strother; Admiral Louis E. Denfeld, Vice Adm. Arthur W. Radford, Rear Adms. Herbert L. Pugh, Walter A. Buck, and Earl E. Stone. General Eisenhower stated:
When this project was proposed in the beginning
of the war, like most old soldiers, I was violently against it. I thought a
tremendous number of difficulties would
occur .... Every phase of the record they compiled during
the war convinced me of the error of my first reaction.
In tasks for which they are particularly suited, Wacs are more valuable than men, and fewer of them are required to perform a given amount of work .... In the disciplinary field they were, throughout the war, a model for the Army . . . . More than this, their influence throughout the whole command was good. Carefully supervised, presenting a picture of model deportment and neatness, their presence was always reflected around a headquarters in improved conduct on the part of all.
In the event of another war, which would be even more truly global than the last in its effects upon the entire population, it is my conviction that everybody in this country would serve under some form of call to duty . . . . I assure you that I look upon this measure as a "must'" . . . . You are at perfect liberty to quote me privately and publicly in this matter." 114
General Eisenhower strongly opposed the substitution of Reserve for Regular
The history of the Army shows that . . . there was tremendous resentment on the part of line officers originally when surgeons were given rank and called colonels, etc . . . . We have long since outgrown that and I believe that type of argument no longer has any validity.
Appearances were also made by the current heads of the various women's services, and statements were submitted by former Director Boyce and by various women's groups including the WAC's National Civilian Advisory Committee. The wartime WAC leaders-Colonels Hobby, Bandel, Rice. Woods, Goodwin, Davis, and Strayhorn-were not asked to testify or to submit statements; the same was true of the wartime heads of the WAVES, SPARS, and women Marines. When privately approached by members of Congress to inquire whether such an invitation should not be issued by Congress, since it had not been issued by the armed forces, the wartime WAC leaders discouraged such action. While personally uninterested in peacetime service, most did not feel justified in barring it for any women who wished to remain. More important, they feared that their opposition to peacetime service might mistakenly be construed as a condemnation of the WAC's wartime record, or of future service by women in national emergencies.115
In the following weeks, the Senate stood firm in its earlier approval of
Regular Army status. Before the voting, the House put up a final fight on what
appeared to be the basic point of opposition-the fear that women would command
men. One member, a Navy veteran, stated:
There is not a member of the House Committee on Armed Services who has not received a telephone call or a call in person from enlisted men objecting to the idea of having to take orders from a WAVES officer.
I heartily concur in all of the laudatory remarks . . . . But . . . what we are asked to approve today is an organizational change in the structure of the Armed Services which is as extreme and far reaching as any ever con-
templated by any nation. If we approve this conference report, women will become an integral part of the Armed Forces of the United States in peacetime for the first time in our history.
After a final struggle in which it was necessary for the sergeant-at-arms to close the doors and secure absent members, a vote was taken on 2 June 1948 which-206 to 133, 91 not voting-placed women in both the Regular services and the Reserves.116 On 12 June 1948, upon the President's signature, the measure became law. 117 The wartime Women's Army Corps, expiring in the same month, bequeathed some 2,000 of its former members to the Regular Army WAC.118
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