WAAC - WAC
Historical Section, Headquarters ETO
[Note: This manuscript was prepared as a booklet in late 1944 or very early 1945 by the historians assigned to the Historical Section of the Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, and cleared by War Department censors in the Bureau of Public Relations on 15 January 1945 (the clearance form appearing as the first page). It subsequently was deposited in the Office of the Chief of Military History (now US Army Center of Military History) for reference use in the preparation of the multi-volume official history of World War II. The original is on file in the Historical Manuscripts Collection (HMC) under file number 8-3.1 AH, which should be cited in footnotes, along with the title. It is reproduced here with only those limited modifications required to adapt to the World Wide Web; endnote format, spelling, punctuation, and slang usage have not been altered from the original. Where modern explanatory notes were required, they have been inserted as italicized text in square brackets; changes made by the censors are indicated as strikethroughs.]
DATE: 15 January 1945
TO: WAC Group
Note: Do not detach buckslip from material if sent for recommendation and return.
During the early months of 1942,
Major General James E Chaney, the Commander of the United
States Forces in the British Isles, discussed with Mrs. Trefusis Forbes, Air Commandant of the British Women's Auxiliary Air
Force, the feasibility of setting up an organization of American Women along the lines of the WAAF or its army equivalent, the
Auxiliary Territorial Service.
Mrs. Forbes suggested that RAF and WAAF personnel be used in either the United Kingdom or the United States to train and instruct approximately 150 American women who would form the nucleus of an organization of 5,000 women which would, in turn, be the cadre and administration for a women's force of any desired size. The commander
General Chaney approved this plan and
sent it, 1 on February 27, to the War Department. No action was taken on the General Chaney's plan, however,
and the American forces arriving in the British Isles continued the practice of using ATS and WAAF personnel to perform the
duties for which they lacked the necessary men. A tendency to abuse this practice of "borrowing" British service women was
brought to the attention of USAFBI by Brigadier E. H. O'Donnel, of the War Office, on March 6 and on March 12, USAFBI
formulated and published the policy of using members of the British women's services only in cases of emergency. The American
forces the policy stated, should be self-sufficient wherever possible.
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During the spring and summer of 1942, members of the British women's services were employed by
the American forces especially in the performance of air force duties and in officers' messes, and discussions of the needs of
the various commands of the European Theater of Operations continued. Meanwhile, the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was organized
in the United States, 12 May, 1942. The first Officers Candidate School class was formed on 20 July and, on 1 August, a cable
from the War Department told of an initial allotment for the European Theater of Operations of two companies of colored WAACs
and two Companies of white WAACs.2 These first two white companies were to be assigned to the Services of Supply and
European Theater of Operations Headquarters while the colored WAAC companies were to be of a composition "to meet the particular
needs of the theater." This proposal was disapproved on 18 September, by Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the new
theater commander, in a letter to Major General John C. H. Lee, SOS Commander, because the expressed policy of the deputy
director of the WAAC stated that a larger proportion of colored personnel than 30 per cent would be detrimental to the prestige
of the corps both in the United States and in the United Kingdom.
Services of Supply then asked for eight companies of white WAACs and four companies of colored women. The white
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women were to be distributed among the Services of Supply Headquarters and base sections and the
colored women were to be sent where there were already large concentrations of colored troops. This request was forwarded by ETO
to the War Department on September 29.3
The use of WAAFs became a more and more acute problem as the Eighth Air Force expanded and on October 10, a cable from the War Department informed General Eisenhower that two companies and a headquarters detachment of WAACs were available for shipment in November but that the SOS request did not establish priority.4 General Eisenhower replied by reiterating his request for WAACs for the Services of Supply.
Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby, director of the WAAC, arrived in the European Theater of Operations on 31 October, 1942, and, after inspecting the installations and employment of members of the ATS, WAAF and NAAFI, conferred with Army officials regarding the priority of needs for American service women.
The November 8 invasion of North Africa was only five days old when General Eisenhower cabled for five WAAC officers two of whom could speak French.5 On 18 November, he followed this cable with an urgent request for 140 clerks, stenographers, typists, telephonists and necessary overhead to be given the highest priority for the immediate shipment directly to Oran.6
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In view of the unsettled situation in North Africa at that time, Colonel Hobby was not able to
refused this request but offered a complete battalion for shipment to the European Theater of Operations by 31 December, pending the assignment of priority and transportation by the ETO.7
The five WAAC officers whom General Eisenhower had requested arrived in London on 2 December, on their way to Algiers. They were the first WAACs to be assigned to overseas duty. The five were Second Lieutenants (then third officers) Martha Rogers, Mattie Pinette, Ruth Briggs, Alene Drezmal, and Louise Anderson. They arrived at Allied Force Headquarters in Algiers before the end of the year, after their clothing and equipment were lost during a torpedoing. These WAAC officers were promoted to first officers on 23 December-the same day that the War Department was informed that they had survived the torpedoing-thus becoming the first WAACs to be promoted overseas.8
On the arrival of General Eisenhower in London in January, 1944, as Supreme Allied Commander, these five were still attached to his staff.
On 4 December, General Eisenhower asked that the shipment of WAACs to the European Theater of Operations be delayed until February, 1943,9 and, on 2 January, Major General Russell P. Hartle, deputy theater commander and in command of the American Forces in the United Kingdom, asked that a billeting detail and
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two officers of the WAAC be sent to England in January, to be followed in February by a complete
battalion.10 Preparations to receive WAACs in the ETO had progressed to a point where, on 17 February, Staff Memo
Headquarters, ETOUSA Number 12 was circulated among the section chiefs of the ETO headquarters asking them to ascertain the
number of WAACs needed in their section and to make requests.
Two days before the circulation of this memo, the first two WAACs arrived in this theater for duty. They were Captain Zelma Hanson and Second Lieutenant Dorothy Wart who came as telephone supervisor and assistant respectively for the Eighth Air Force.
The need of the Eighth Air Force for trained women to replace the WAAFs borrowed from the Royal Air Force and to release enlisted men for more arduous duties became greater during the spring of 1943 as the tempo of the bombing attack stepped up and a greater strain was placed on the expanding force. On 22 March, after the Air Ministry had asked that all WAAFs be released from duty with the Americans immediately, the adjutant general of the Eighth Air Force urged that two senior WAAC officers be sent immediately to investigate requirements for WAAC personnel which might be sent to work and live with the force.11
Lieutenant General Frank M. Andrews, European Theater of
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Operations Commander, cabled the War Department on 29 March, asking that two directors and two
assistants be sent to the United Kingdom for duty with the Eighth Air Force and the Services of Supply.12
This request was partially fulfilled by the arrival of Captain Anna W. Wilson and Second Lieutenant Selma Herbert on 3 April. Captain Wilson was named WAAC Director for the ETO and Lieutenant Herbert was made her assistant. They were installed as the WAAC branch of G-1, ETO, to make an exhaustive study of the utilization of WAACs to replace WAAFs and enlisted men. Captain Wilson made her first report on 30 April to G-1, ETO, and stated that WAACs could replace all WAAFs and take the place of enlisted men being used as drivers, radio operators, draftsmen, translators, camera technicians, aircraft warning plotters, air craft warning turret supervisors, weather observers, radio mechnaics [i.e., mechanics], mimeograph operators, photo technicians, air craft warning filtereres, air craft warning tellers, telephonists, teletypists, stenographers and clerks. She advised that WAACs should not be assigned in groups of less than 50 or to other duties than with bomber command, fighter command and first wing. During this period small groups of enrolled members and officers filtered into the European Theater of Operations. Their purpose was to prepare for large numbers of WAACs scheduled to arrive. General Eisenhower, whose North African theater had
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received the first unit shipment of WAACs, paid tribute to the women with the Army on 6 June
when he cabled ETO asking that civilian women be enlisted in the WAAC and sent to him. In this cable, General Eisenhower said
that he found "it literally impossible to conduct effective administration (unless) we obtain either WAACs or civilian women."
At the same time, preparations for the reception of WAACs in the European Theater of Operations took another step forward when Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, the new Theater Commander, asked General Lee to make available at Post Exchanges a complete supply of special nurses items in anticipation of the arrival of the women.
The First WAAC Separate Battalion, the first large shipment of WAACs to come to the ETO, arrived in the European Theater of Operations on 16 July for duty with the Eighth Air Force. This battalion was composed of the 75th, 76th, 169th and 170th Post Headquarters companies, each of three officers and 124 enlisted women; the 171st Post Headquarters company of two officers and 49 enlisted women, and the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of five officers and 12 enlisted women. The total strength of the battalion was 19 officers and 557 enlisted women.
This unit arrived in the European Theater of Operations as an auxiliary to the Army. However, President Roosevelt had signed legislation on 1 July which made all service women members
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of the Army and dropped the first "A" in WAAC. The working and disciplinary status of members of
the WAC remained that of the WAACs but the women were now eligible for benefits and privileges accorded soldiers, such as the
use of free mailing, insurance, dependency allotments and other privileges.
In the change from auxiliary to Army status, the WAAC personnel was given the choice of re-enlisting or transportation to the United States for discharge. By 15 August, 96.4 per cent of the officers and enlisted women of the First Separate WAAC Battalion had indicated that they wished to re-enlist. Two of the units, the 171st and the Headquarters Detachment, enlisted 100 per cent. Even the lowest percentage, that of the 76th Post Headquarters Company, was 93 per cent. Of the entire WAC organization in the European Theater of Operations only 31 enlisted women and two officers, both of whom enlisted later, chose to return to the United States for discharge. The oath of enlistment of commission in the Army of the United States was administered to WAAC personnel in the European Theater of Operations by 1 September. The women were welcomed into the Army in cable from General Devers to Colonel Hobby in which he commended them for their superior discipline and efficiency and their importance in the war effort.l3 Requests for WACs came into the ETO from all quarters, with the Eighth Air Force being the most insistent in its demands. On 18 September, Brigadier General
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C. C. Chauncey, Chief of Staff of the Eighth Air Force asked for an additional allotment of two
commissioned crytographers and 42 enlisted women.
The second contingent of WACs arrived in the European Theater of Operations before 20 September, 169 being assigned to ETO headquarters and 139 being added to those already with the air force. This contingent was part of the Second Separate WAC Battalion which had left the United States as a unit but had been separated in mid-ocean. The remainder of this battalion was in the ETO by 18 October. This was to be the last contingent of WACs to arrive in the European Theater of Operations for some time as the War Department informed General Devers on 24 October14 that more WACs would not be available for shipment to this theater until February, 1944. General Devers asked for the first units ready for shipment.
This action on the part of the War Department and the woman power shortage among the American forces in the European Theater of Operations led to a request by General Devers on 30 Septemberl5 for permission to enlist trained civilians in the WAC. The War Department replied to this by drawing attention to the provisions of memorandum Number W600-17-42, of 27 September 1942, which authorized the transfer of United States citizens from Allied services to the American Forces.l6 On this same date, Services of Supply requested that the War Department substitute
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eleven white companies of WACs for the eight companies of whites and four companies of colored
WACs which it had requested on 29 September 1942.17 By January, 1944, this requisition had been revised to eight
stenographic companies and one postal company. The total strength asked was 1560 which would be divided among the base sections
and headquarters of Services of Supply. The substitution of white for colored companies was made after General Devers, on 4
September had informed Services of Supply that no colored WACs would be requisitioned until the War Department had announced
that it was necessary.
In addition to utilization of personnel, early problems which Captain Wilson and Lieutenant Herbert undertook in preparation for arrival of the first WACs to this theater included:
(1) Proper housing and provision of accommodation stores.
(2) Supply of WAAC clothing and equipment.
(3) Supply of women's items in post exchanges.
(4) Arrangements for laundry, dry-cleaning and women's shoe repair.
(5) Arrangements for proper medical care and physical examinations.
(6) Facilities for recreation available through American Red Cross and allied women's services.
As early as February 1943 the Office of the Chief Engineer, European Theater of Operations published a scale of accommodations for WAACs.18 This scale was altered after the arrival in the
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theater of Captain Anna W. Wilson and subsequent conference attended by representatives of the
Engineers, the Chief Surgeon, G-4, and the WAAC Staff Director. Amended scales for troops in installations provided by the
British War Office and by the Air Ministry were published in August, Column V of which set forth the approved WAAC scale.
In the meantime agreement had been reached on 22 June 1943 by the Chief Engineer, the Chief Surgeon, the WAAC Staff Directorand the British authorities that the WAACs who were to replace WAAF at Eighth Air Force were to take over accommodations already in use by the WAAF, and in order to meet the required WAAC scale, WAAC personnel would be spread more thinly in existing accommodations. The policy of occupying existing accommodations was almost uniformly followed throughout the United Kingdom, buildings being brought up to meet WAC scales, usually by additions of sanitary facilities, closets and clothes hanging spaces, laundry and drying rooms, and recreation rooms. Engineers continued to work, however, on blue prints for new construction and in the fall of 1943, standards for new accommodation (hutted) were arrived at after numerous conferences.20 Such new construction was used in only one installation however, that at Widewing, where originally troops assigned to Supreme Headquarters AEF were stationed and later WAC Detachment USSTAF. It remains as the only model WAC accommodation in this theater.
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It was War Department and Theater policy that no WAC personnel would be assigned to a command
until proper accommodations were available. After housing standards were established, the Chief of Engineers and using command
were kept informed of expected arrivals, and final check as to adequacy of accommodation became a function of the WAC Staff
Accommodation stores for WAACs (all barracks equipment) were handled in the same manner as had been done for United States Arm personnel, that is, initial issue by the local British officer at the post or through the RAF representative according to British War Accommodation Schedules Numbers 71, 72, 73, 74 and 78 and replacement by the Quartermaster.21
One of the early duties of Captain Wilson and Lieutenant Herbert was working with the Quartermaster on supply of clothing and equipment for enlisted women and WAC officers. Comparison was made of the items of WAC officers and nurses, which were similar, and annual maintenance allowance scales set up.22 & 23 Arrangements were completed for WAC officers clothing to be put on sale in Quartermaster Sales Stores and maintenance requirements were submitted to the New York Port of Embarkation on 5 May 1943.24 At the same time Circular Number 50, Headquarters, SOS, 23 September 1942, covering provisions for laundry, dry cleaning and shoe repair service to United States troops was revised and service for enlisted women and WAC officers included.25 Office of
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Chief Quartermaster arranged contracts with civilian firms capable of repairing women's shoes.
Arrangements were worked out with Army Exchange Service to make available to WAAC officers and enlisted personnel, items formerly sold only to nurses, and exchange officers at Air Force Stations were instructed to stock these items at once.26
During May and June information of housing and supply arrangements set up by the interested services in cooperation with the WAAC Staff Director were disseminated to Air Force Stations who were receiving the first WAACs.
By October when Services of Supply renewed its requisitions, the WAC s had ceased to be a novelty and had become a part of the general scene in the European Theater of Operations. The first WAC wedding took place on 7 October, the bridgegroom being an American Air Force sergeant; a Post Exchange was set up in the WAC billets at 48 Park Street, London; nine enlisted women were attached to the 7th General Dispensary in London; a receiving station for WAC s was established at 37 Park Street; it had been announced that WAC officers were to be used on courts and boards which involved trial of WAC personnel.27 The First and Second Separate WAC Battalions were disbanded and absorbed into the WAC Detachments of the ETO Headquarters and the Eighth Air Force by 26 November. On 7 November the War Department allotted to the ETO a quota of two WAC s to attend the Officer Candidate School
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at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. A board was formed on 27 November to interview the candidates and,
by 10 December, Sergeant Violet Bachman and Private First Class Esther Newby had been selected for classes to start on 28
Problems of supply arose during the fall and winter of 1943. It became apparent that clothing allowances authorized by T/E 21, 8 April 1943 were not sufficient to meet the requirements of personnel in this theater. There was particular need for increase of allowances of cold weather items since enlisted personnel in the Air Forces lived some distance from their offices and a large percentage were working on night shift or in unheated buildings.
To meet an immediate emergency authorization was given for the issue of enlisted men's long sleeved undershirts and long drawers28 and requisitions were initiated to the War Department for the trousers, outer cover, and liners authorized for outdoor workers by change 1, of T/E 21, 17 June 1943, to be available for all personnel in the ETO.29 Request was also made for an additional winter skirt30 and later for a second pair of field shoes.31 All items have been authorized by the War Department. Substitution of the cap garrison wool for the cap, WAC winter, for all duty except formal ceremonies was authorized by the theater commander in General Order. Cleaning and blocking facilities of the theater were found to be too limited to maintain military appearance
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of the WAC hat.
In a letter dated 3 December, the War Department allotted the European Theater of Operations a quota of 250 WAC officers and 5,500 WAC enlisted personnel. This allotment included the women already present in the theater except those working for the Commanding General, Air Transport Command; Branch Office, Judge Advocate General, the Office of Strategic Services, and Headquarters, Supreme Allied Command. The remainder, awaiting shipment, were to be absorbed in the bulk allotments of all strength destined for this theater.
Although Captain Wilson and Lieutenant Herbert had been operating as the WAC Branch and been administratively affiliated with G-1, Headquarters European Theater of Operations since their arrival in the theater, formal recognition of the position of the WAC Staff Director was accorded on 31 December 1943 by appropriate establishment of the WAC Section with specification of its duties...
"a. Advising the Commanding General and his staff in the formulation
of theater plans and policies on all matters pertaining to the Women's Army Corps.
b. Visiting commands within the theater for the purpose of rendering assistance on problems affecting theater policy with regard to the utilization, training and administration of WAC personnel."32
Similar official notice of one of the functions of the section
is reflected in Headquarters ETO letter AG 353.02, 30 December 1943, subject: Periodic Visits of
WAC Director's Staff which was sent to all commands utilizing WAC personnel. Requisition for personnel for Eighth Air Force
and subordinate commands totaling 76 officers and 2,542 EM was submitted on 30 October 1943. A large part of the enlisted
personnel were Air Force technicians, and 30 of the WAC officers photo interpreters. It was planned that the WAC personnel
would replace enlisted men authorized in manning tables. By the time this requisition was received, War Department Circular
289, 9 November 1943 had required WAC T/O units to be inactivated and the personnel absorbed in authorized overhead allotments.
Since all the Air Forces in the European Theater of Operations operated under manning tables, there were no overhead allotments
available to which WAC personnel could be assigned.
Considerable correspondence between the War Department and G-1 of this theater ensued33 and eventually the subject was taken up by G-1 representatives in person on a trip to Washington. War Department authority was then secured34 for WAC personnel to be assigned to suitable non-combatant positions in and fixed installations or headquarters of the United States Air Forces in the theater. The first shipment of personnel filling the long standing requisition arrived in the theater 19 February 1944 and other increments followed in rapid succession during the spring and summer of 1944. Due largely to the success of the air offensive
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against the Fortress Europe, requirements for trained Air Force technicians decreased rather
than increased and in July, 1944 unfilled portions of the requisition were cancelled except for certain classes of clerical and
communication personnel who were still needed.
The initial impetus of Air Force in pressing for authority to assign WAC personnel to position vacancies in T/O units was reflected in War Department Cable dated 20 July 1944-ETO in #45095, which gave notification that Circular 289 was being amended to permit assignment of WAC personnel in suitable non-combatant positions in any fixed administrative headquarters or installation which complied with other basic policies governing assignment of WAC personnel. The cable came at a time when thi headquarters was already preparing a request to allow such assignment in Field and Service Forces as well as Air Forces.
As early as 20 July 1943, Eighth Air Force requested 30 WAC officers to replace WAAF personnel engaged in cryptographic duties.35 Up to that time, no WAC officers had been used in operational positions but after the change from WAAC to WAC, such assignments were appropriate and the requisition was filled. This assignment paved the way for general assignment throughout the Air Force of WAC operational officers and later for use of SAC administrative and staff officers throughout the theater.
By 10 January, 1944, there were 55 of the 76 WAC officers in
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the ETO engaged in operational or administrative duties and 7 officers in staff positions
directly connected with SAC administration.36
Colonel Hobby made her second visit to the European Theater of Operations on 9 January 1944. This was her first opportunity to observe the WACs at work in the United Kingdom and she spent until 21 January touring the installations at which they were employed.
Shortage of WAC personnel available for shipment to this theater in 1943 led to a request by General Devers on 30 September for permission to enlist trained civilians in the WAC. The War Department replied to this by drawing attention to the provisions of memorandum Number W 600-17-42, of 27 September 1942, which authorized the transfer of United States citizens from Allied services to the American Forces.
Beginning with the organization of the WAAC in the United States, American citizens and others residing in the United Kingdom had deluged American Army offices with requests for permission to enlist in the corps. Because of the difficulties of instruction and indoctrination, these applicants had been consistently refused. However, by 7 February 1944, Major Wilson felt that the need for additional personnel was great enough to warrant the use of WAC personnel as a cadre for instruction of American citizens transferring from the Allied women's services. These women were to apply through the normal channels of the present
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organization before 29 February. At the request of the Air Ministry, this date was set ahead to
Transfer requirements were the same as for enlistment in the States, and many who wished to transfer were unable to pass the medical examination. In the end, by 15 May, four officers and forty-nine enlisted women had transferred from the ATS, WAAF and WREN; they received two weeks' basic training and were assigned immediately to jobs. Many were used by Transportation Corps which was then working at top speed.
By 29 February, several small groups and the first large contingent of Air Force personnel, filling requisition of 30 October 1943, having arrived, the strength of the WAC in the European Theater of Operations was 98 officers and 1189 enlisted women who were employed by the following organizations: Headquarters, Unites States Strategic Air Forces; Headquarters, Eighth Air Force; Headquarters, Ninth Air Force; Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Air Forces; Headquarters, Eighth Fighter Command; Headquarters, Ninth Bomber Command; First, Second and Third Bomb Divisions; Second, 14th, 20th and 96th Combat Wings; Headquarters, European Theater of Operations; Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force; Office of Strategic Services; Office of Military Attache; Governments in Exile; Branch Office of the Judge Advocate General.
With the establishment in this theater of Headquarters Supreme
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Allied Command in October 1943 informal request was made for WAC officers to act as secretaries
and as administrative assistants or adjutants. The five captains, who had served with General Eisenhower's Headquarters in
North Africa were transferred to this theater and ten other officers with similar qualifications were requested.37
By 4 January 1944, 30 enlisted women drawn from the ETOUSA Detachment were assigned to COSSAC and request had been made for
approximately 100 more. Requirements for the new headquarters were 250 enlisted women and urgent requisition for this number
Pending the time this personnel would arrive in the theater, the only source from which immediate requirements could be drawn was the WAC Detachment ETOUSA. This involved splitting the officer and cadre personnel, training additional cadre, and impartially selecting for duty assignment those enlisted women who were to go with the new headquarters so that a fair division of skills would be maintained. WAC personnel leaving ETOUSA had to be replaced by enlisted men or civilian employees. In addition special arrangements had to be made with allied women's services since the new location of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces involved billeting and messing all the military women in the same area. This was the first WAC Detachment to serve an allied camp, and it was located at the only place in the United Kingdom where new construction according to standard WAC scale
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had been provided. By agreement with the British Services, the WAC Detachment Commander was in
charge of all women in the camp. The mess was under her supervision, and although pay and supply were handled separately for
the British Services (ATS, WAAF and WREN), the general policy was set by the WAC commander.
Although most of the WACs in the ETO were employed in large groups, several commands had only one or two. In these cases of small detachments, only officers were employed following the policy stated by Major Wilson in her first report that enlisted women were to be employed only when they could be billeted in groups of at least 50.
Policy regarding administration and utilization of the WAC in the European Theater Or Operations continued to be directed by the WAC Section of G-1, ETO, composed, from 26 February 1944 to the present date, of these officers: Major (now Lt Colonel) Anna W. Wilson, ETO WAC Staff Director, Chief of Section; Major Frances S. Cornick, Deputy WAC Staff Director; Captain (now Major) Mary C. Weems, Personnel Officer, and First Lieutenant (now Captain) Theodora Smith, Administrative Officer. Major Mary A. Hallaren, continued as Staff Director in charge of all WACs employed by the United States Army Air Forces in the European Theater of Operations, and as a member of A-1 USSTAF.
As WAC strength in the theater grew throug[h]out the spring and summer of 1944 the requirements of War Department Circular 289,
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9 November 1943 paragraph 7b were complied with by the appointment of Staff Directors in
commends subordinate to Headquarters ETO and USSTAF. A Staff Director was appointed for Eighth Air Force in June 1944 which by
this time had assinged [i.e., assigned] to it almost 50 officers and over 1,000 enlisted women. Subsequently a Staff
Director was appointed for the Ninth Air Force and one for United Kingdom Base. At the time this headquarters moved to the
continent, senior officers in each command were already accustomed to serving as advisors on WAC matters and were kept in touch
with WAC policy not only through the periodic visits of the WAC Director's Staff but also through Senior Officer meetings, the
first of which was held on 26 February 1944. These meetings covered common problems encountered in various commands both Air
Force and Service forces as related to training, utilization of personnel, accommodation, supply, discipline and general
well-being. Subsequent meetings were held on 16 June 1944, on 6 November 194439 for officers on the continent and 14
November 1944 for officers in the UK.
During March 1944 the need for some informal method of circulating information on WAC matters and personnel and theater policy was realized, and the WAC Section G-1 undertook preparation of a monthly newsletter which is circulated to all WAC officers both company and operational.
The use of WAC officers in technical operational positions,
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initiated by the Air Forces, and in confidential secretarial positions, initiated by Supreme
Headquarters, AEF, was matched by assignment within Headquarters, ETOUSA of WAC administrative or operational officers in
almost every general and special staff section.
In addition to ordinary administrative positions in which a WAC officer replaces a male officer, WAC officers began to be used in early 1944 in operational jobs mainly concerned with WAC matters. In March two officers were assigned to the Office of the Chief Quartermaster and have been invaluable in planning and executing activities related to WAC supply.
In January a WAC officer was placed on duty with the Provost Marshal for assistance in any matters coming under his jurisdiction involving WAC personnel. WAC Officers are serving in Special Services directly in charge of special activities for WACs and for a short period of time, a WAC officer was on duty with the Theater Inspector General. The Inspector General of the Air Forces has had a WAC officer on his staff for many months. A WAC officer has been on duty with the Medical Records Division of Medical Service, and others have covered Public Relations activities for WAC since the first group arrived.
Early in February query was made whether SAC personnel could be appointed to Warrant Officer grades.40 Upon receipt of information 24 February 194441 that such appointments were author-
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ized, steps were taken by Supreme Headquarters AEF to appoint the first Warrant Officer in the
European Theater of Operations, Miss Nana Rae, who had been in the Office of the Supreme Commander since the time he commanded
the North African Theater of Operations. Within a few months, Warrant Officers were appointed in Headquarters, ETOUSA,
Headquarters, USSTAF, Headquarters, Eighth Air Force, Headquarters, Second Bombardment Division, Headquarters, First Allied
Airborne Army and Office of Strategic Services.
Before the large shipments of March and April, 1944, arrived a well coordinated plan was already in use for processing of incoming personnel. Two replacement depots were used, Eighth Air Force Replacement Depot for Air Force troops, Tenth Replacement Depot for all others. The former station acquired a permanent WAC Detachment, the Commanding Officer of which is a classification specialist. Field Force shipments were too infrequent to justify WAC personnel being assigned to the Tenth Replacement Depot, but members of the WAC Staff Director's Staff and other operational officers went to the Depot on temporary duty to assist the permanent staff of the Depot in processing and orienting all incoming personnel. Assignment was made after personal interview, according to existing priorities and maximum utilization of individual skills.
Since the facilities of the Tenth Replacement Depot through
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which all but Air Force personnel moved were used only when large incoming shipments were
received, and had no permanent WAC party, some administrative procedures required revision to take care of intra-theater
movement of personnel in those instances where male personnel would normally be returned to a replacement depot.
WAC personnel released from the Detachments of Patients was therefore ordered to return direct to their former units. On the movement of units to the continent, provision was made for WAC personnel to be returned to their former units if practicable, otherwise to the WAC Detachment stationed in London.42 Personnel to be returned to the Zone of Interior for other reasons than medical care were ordered to be processed through the Air Force Replacement Depot where accommodations were always available for WAC personnel.43 This personnel included returns to the states for discharge because of minority, emergency returns authorized under 11b, War Department Circular 58, 9 February 1944, and Officer Candidates.
There has been no occasion for use of a replacement depot to take care of personnel available for reassignment. Unfilled requisitions for WAC personnel have always been in excess of the supply, and reassignment is made directly from old to new station, the process being coordinated through G-1 WAC Section.
The large influx of personnel from the States during February,
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March and April created some problems of assignment and morale because of the high ratings held
by a large proportion of the incoming personnel. An attempt to rectify this situation was made in the states by voluntary
reduction in grade of personnel coming overseas. Similar action was taken by the theater on other personnel arriving at about
the same time who had not been reduced in grade. This attempted solution presented additional problems and eventually all
personnel was restored to the former rating and if necessary carried over-strength in using commands.44 Later
shipments presented a more balanced spread of grades and ratings and no problem presently exists.
With a strength of approximately 6,000 enlisted personnel and 350 officers, there are inevitable instances of malassignment and non-utilization of highest skills. In some cases, individuals have not been properly trained in the States, were not skilled according to their SSN and have therefore been unable to fill the job for which requisitioned. Constant adjustments have been made to meet these problems and to utilize all personnel in some capacity with the view toward maximum utilization of highest skills. Peak loads between commands vary from time to time and personnel is shifted from one command to another to meet these changing requirements. Shortage of civilian labor on the continent has meant that military personnel will largely be concentrated there since civilian personnel is still available in the United Kingdom.
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Personnel at one time needed by Air Forces was no longer needed when they arrived. Attempts have
been made to utilize that personnel according to their technical training throughout all forces, and lacking that to use an
allied skill. If the personnel possesses no skill which can be used, on the job training has been given by Signal Service to
fill their great need for switchboard operators. Typing and shorthand classes have been given by both military and civilian
agencies and all means possible have been taken to supply personnel to fill all requirements.
Close cooperation between detachment commanders and chiefs of sections who utilize WAC personnel is maintained. One of the responsibilities of command is to check on full utilization of skills. Likewise company administration as regards such matters as fatigue details and observance of company regulations affect the working hours of personnel and are of interest to section chiefs. The responsibility of both was indicated by this headquarters' promotion policy, which requires that promotions of enlisted women be routed through WAC Detachment commanders for concurrence, and that non-concurrence be based on conduct during off-duty hours.45 Recommendations for promotions of WAC officers are routed through Air Force WAC Staff Director or WAC Staff Director ETO for note and concurrence.
A great many WAC personnel had been assigned to Signal Ser-
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vice in clerical capacities. The need for telephone operators however was such that 100 were
flown to the theater from the States in July 1944 and other personnel in the theater with the skill were transferred to
Signals. Signal Service in this headquarters with its switchboard operators and clerical help utilizes at present over 215
enlisted women and has activated a T/O unit to cover not only this personnel, but 336 more just requisitioned.
G-1 is presently conducting a survey to determine What T/O units in each of the services can appropriately utilize up to 50% WAC personnel. Special Services and Quartermaster have already indicated their desire for increasing numbers of WACs to be covered by overhead allotments or T/O positions.
All WAC personnel, except for that separately authorized by War Department authority to such commands as ATC, BOTJAG, MIRS, OSS, OMA, is included in the troop basis of the theater, whether covered by T/O or non-T/O vacancies, and each occupies a position which otherwise would be filled by male military personnel. Shortage of WAC personnel in the States, however, requires the theater to requisition within an allotted quota, which presently is 7,600, 350 officers and 7,250 enlisted personnel. Current Theater over-strength has prevented filling of requisitions (totaling almost 1,000) which would bring WAC strength up to authorized quota.
It was not until after the Allied Forces launched their grand assault on the European Continent, that the War Department at
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long last authorized Headquarters, ETOUSA to enlist women citizens of the United States in the
WAC for assignment to ETO installations.46 Besides following the usual regulations governing the enlistment of
women, necessary Provost Marshal, or Counter Intelligence Group clearance, was required, and a basic training period similar to
that given recruits in the States.
All WAC personnel recruited in the Theater were considered within the authorized strength of the European Theater of Operations, but the new enlistments were not charged against the WAC quota authorized to the theater.
During August 1944, the WAC recruiting drive was in full swing throughout England. Forty-three recruits were accepted the first month, representing one-fourth of all the applicants; those rejected failed to pass the Army's physical examination. These newly enlisted WACS underwent three weeks' basic training at the 10th Replacement Depot, near Lichfield [sic], England. WAC officers and NCOs supervised the training, utilization of instructors and facilities of the Depot. The second and final group of 48 WAC recruits went into basic training at the Depot in October.
Soon after Captain Wilson came to the theater, conferences were held with representatives of the Red Cross with the view to their being prepared to extend to enlisted women the same type of facilities they were accustomed to affording male personnel. Since most of the WAC personnel was to be concentrated in the
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London area, a Red Cross Club for enlisted personnel was established there and also a club for
women officers in the Army. Arrangements were made for enlisted women to enjoy Red Cross facilities in the popular leave areas
and to participate in the home hospitality extended by British civilians, as well as enjoy the Red Cross operated service clubs
and Aero Clubs.
WACs in the European Theater of Operations received advanced training in shorthand, typewriting, and other office skills. Courses were sponsored by the Red Cross Services, as well as Central Base Section Headquarters in London. Cambridge University and other schools offered short courses in cultural subjects for army personnel. WAC personnel attended these courses together with enlisted men and women of the Allied Forces. Three WAC officers attended the ATS Wing of the British Staff College and two WAC officers took a course at the British Civil Affairs School.
Friendly relations were also set up with the British Women's Services and Captain Wilson accompanied the Chiefs of these services in trips to their stations in preparation for reception of the first contingent of WACs. A great deal of assistance was secured so far as arrangements for accommodation and supplies were concerned. Later as part of Special Services activities, exchange visits were made between WACs and ATS units and wherever camps of ATS or WAAF were located near the WACs, social and re-
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creational facilities were enjoyed by the two groups. In addition to serving as liaison between
all the Allied Women's Services and the WAC, Major Wilson was appointed in January 1944 as a member of the Anglo-American
Relations Committee and attended its meetings regularly as a representative of G-1 Headquarters, ETOUSA.
As of August 1944, a total of 145 WACs had been returned to the United States for various reasons. In addition to those who decided in September 1943, not to enlist in the WAC, nine enlisted women returned to attend Officers Candidate School and two officers and one hundred three enlisted women were returned for medical reasons.46
Of the nine enlisted women who returned to go to OCS, six were from Air Forces, two from Headquarters, ETOUSA, and one from OSS. OCS quotas allotted to this Theater from time to time were promptly filled.
Medical facilities for WAC s in the ETO have been uniformly good.47 A woman doctor assigned to the Office of the Chief Surgeon has been consultant for the WAC ever since their arrival, and has assisted dispensaries and hospitals throughout the theater in proper handling of WAC personnel.
Sick call is held daily at billets or in dispensaries, with an Army doctor, male or female, in attendance and with a nurse, officer or NCO assisting. Those who need hospital care are
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promptly admitted to General or Station hospitals. Respiratory diseases have proved the most
frequent causes of admission, for most newly arrived troops found it difficult to adjust to the unusual climate in the United
Kingdom. Total number of venereal disease cases is less than ten. There have been four deaths, all accidental.
On 15 August 1944, a WAC Rest Home, "The Rookery" was established near Oxford, for WAC enlisted personnel requiring complete change from overwork, Army routine and regimentation or convalescence after hospitalization.48 "The Rookery" was described as a lovely large home with spacious grounds and beautiful gardens. The whole atmosphere is easy and homelike. 49 Administration was the responsibility of the Army, but all recreation and activities were handled by a representative of the American Red Cross. Civilian employees took care of the home itself, the grounds, and dining facilities. Quotas were set up for each command, based on the strength and locality of the command.
While most elements of military courtesy and discipline, assignment and administration are the same for male and female troops, both the War Department and this theater have specified some exceptions based on difference of sex.
Assignment of WACs is limited to non-combatant duties appropriate for females (WD Circular 289, Paragraph 7, 9 November 1943). In April 1944 the War Department permitted WACs to bear
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weapons required by a specific assignment or duty, provided such an assignment was compatible
with other policies governing utilization of personnel and the individual concerned had qualified in the arm or weapon. (WD
Circular 163, 26 April). This theater promptly followed suit,50 and for the first time in their Army careers WACs
were allowed to take training in small arms. Several months later the War Department with the ETO again complying, rescinded
this authorization, and forbade wearing of badges representing qualification in arms by WAC personnel.51
Duties considered inappropriate for WAC personnel include operating motor vehicles over 21 ton capacity, permanent kitchen police, in laundries, restaurants or cafeterias, service clubs, officers' clubs or messes, except in administrative positions, as orderlies, theatrical performers, to make initial classification and assignment interviews of male military personnel, and as physicians or nurses, (since the latter should be part of the Medical Department).
WAC personnel are subject to the Articles of War, but confinement is limited to barracks or other appropriate buildings suitable for such purposes and to thirty days' duration.52
WAC personnel are normally assigned in groups of not less than 50, and are always under command of WAC officers.53 This requirement, and the responsibility of Detachment commanders for the health, welfare and morale of their troops, necessitated promul-
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gation of a policy governing temporary duty or detached service of enlisted personnel. As set
forth in Headquarters, ETO Circular 45, 21 April 1944, enlisted women may proceed on T/D or D/S when accompanied by a WAC
officer; or, when messing and billeting facilities are available with a WAC Detachment at the station where the temporary duty
or detached service is to be performed; or, when the concurrence of the commanding officer of the WAC Detachment to which the
enlisted woman is assigned or attached is obtained prior to the issuance of the orders directing the temporary duty or detached
In December 1943 theater policy was established as to fraternization between enlisted and officer personnel. The customs of the service as established by Field Manual 21-15 are prescribed, but provision is mode for exceptions to the policy so far as relatives and fiances are concerned, certified by pass issued by Detachment Commanders. Enforcement of this policy has varied in stringency between commands and from time to time within the same command to meet existing circumstances, but the policy has never been formally amended in any respect.
Despite the War Department Policy that marriage between members of the forces will effect no advantage or disadvantage insofar as assignment is concerned, published theater policy requires that members of the same command be separated.
An operating policy, however, had been adopted in most com-
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mends to effect transfer only in cases where working efficiency and the dignity of the services
are impaired by the marriage.
Only a few weeks after the arrival of a large shipment of personnel which filled the SOS requisition, majority of which were assigned to Headquarters, ETOUSA, (which by then included old SOS Headquarters and the future Headquarters Communication Zone), and Base Section Headquarters, plans were being made for movement of all or part of these headquarters to the continent. WAC personnel had taken over their jobs so satisfactorily that it was decided 50% of the personnel assigned by staff sections to Forward Echelon, Communications Zone, should be WAC. The Deputy WAC Staff Director moved to the new headquarters as a member of G-1.
G-1 WAC Section worked with representatives of Engineer, Surgeon and G-4 in formulation of scales of accommodation for new construction (including tentage) on the continent.55 Lists of individual clothing and equipment according to expected needs were drawn up, and experiments conducted as to best methods of carrying the requisite items. In cooperation with Quartermaster, lists of maintenance items were specified for early shipment to the continent.
As in the creation of the SHAEF Detachment, administrative overhead, officer and enlisted, had to be secured from WAC De-
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tachment, Headquarters, ETOUSA.
Again careful selection of personnel was necessary especially since this group was to be the first on the continent, and it was contemplated that living conditions would be rugged. The group was chosen by the three-fold standards of
(1) Technical ability as determined by using sections;
(2) Physical stamina, and
(3) Emotional stability, as determined by medical officers and SAC Detachment officers.
The group thus selected received a training program to equip them to live in the field and to
take care of themselves and their equipment during the journey; they were supplied with special items of field equipment
including the trousers, outer cover and liner, M-1943 field jacket, knee-length wool socks, and second pair of field shoes.
After 12 long months of the pre-invasion battle, working day and night jobs, top secret jobs and tedious routine jobs, the WACs in England looked toward the continent. Cold wet English weather, air raids and buzz bombs hadn't stopped the WACs and they were ready to "take it" in France.
On July 14, 1944, exactly one year after the first contingent of WACs landed in England, the first 49 WACs of the forward echelon headed by Captain Isabel Kane, landed in Normandy.
Clad in the field uniform of leggings, trousers, combat jackets
and helmets, the WACs "camped out" in an apple orchard and began setting up for the hundreds
of WACs who came in August and September. Living in pyramidal tents, sleeping on army cots, washing in a helmet of cold
water, slogging through the mud, the WACs soldiered in Normandy just as any GI, and had the experience of a lifetime.
Other WACs arrived intermittently by plane and boat in units and with their sections. Normandy Base Section WACs moved into a dirty abandoned house in Cherbourg, Air Corps WACs moved to bases in France, SHAEF WACs set up at
[handwritten insertion: other places in France] and the mobile Ground Forces unit of WACs [handwrittren insertion:
moved up] with the 12th Army Group[.] moved up near Perieres.
Large groups of Signal Corps telephone operators, many of them having flown from the United States only a few weeks before, took over the switchboards at Headquarters installations. Most of the WACs moved with their sections and set up in their regular jobs and a few were reassigned to fill new needs. Working in tents or pre-fabricated office huts, the WACs with Com Z Headquarters units, worked with little or no light, a bare necessity supply of paper, a few tables and typewriters.
They did their job, were quickly adjusted to field life and were a definite morale factor. Living and working under equal conditions, the enlisted men felt that if the WACs could take it, they could take it. In addition they were glad to have American
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girls to date and just look at, talk to and sing with at informal gatherings.
Most of the WACs enjoyed the fresh air, sunshine and novel experience of living in the field but, by 1 September, the Headquarters WACs, several hundred strong and occupying three tent cities in different areas, were thoroughly wet and cold and anxious to see Paris.
Only a few days after the fall of Paris to Allied Forces, the 31st of August 1944, the First WACs in Paris, Major Frances Cornick, Lieutenant Elizabeth Hoisington, First Sergeant Nancy Carter, Staff Sergeant Mary Haluey and Private First Class Margaret Wright, arrived and began preparations for the onslaught of WACs from all corners of the ETO. Major Cornick and Lieutenant Hoisington received the Bronze Star Medal for outstanding service and devotion to duty during this period.
The Seine Base WACs under Captain Rose Ross arrived September 1 and set up in the Hotel United States. The first Com Z WACs were billeted in Hotel Windsor, mainly Signal Corps operators who were again first on the scene and took over the French switchboards which only a few weeks before had been used by the German army.
Then the SACS began to pour into Paris from England and Normandy by truck convoy and by plane, arriving day and night, usually in the middle of the night, and soon overflowed into
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Lieutenant Fannie White opened a combined mess at the Majestic Hotel, but a few weeks later opened the WAC mess hall at the Windsor Hotel feeding 850 WACs in the Windsor and Reynolds Hotel dining rooms. Another mess hall was opened in Hotel Iafayette and WAC mess sergeants and cooks took over the supervision of the French staff of cooks and waitresses in the various messes.
In October the War Department announced that 3,000 WAC s were stationed in France. Nearly two thirds of the number are in Paris with other units in Cherbourg, Chartes, Rheims, Verdun and Chantilly. Eighth Air Force WACs remain at bases in England and other WACs in the UK Base are stationed in London, some still waiting to transfer to France.
In Paris, the largest assortment of WACs stationed in any one place in the world, runs the Gamut of spec numbers, personalities, histories and army experience. Some were among the first WAC contingent to arrive in the ETO and are starting their 16th month of overseas duty. Many have been in the ETO a year. Others left the United States only a few weeks ago and one whole company the last of September. Some members have been in service since the beginning of the WAAC two and a half years ago, while others are rookies with only a few months in the army.
With hundreds of requests for WACs, the WACs are serving in every possible job category in every service branch of the Army,
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AG Casualty WACs, many Quartermaster Corps, Transportation Corps and APO WACs, and WACs in
other busy spots, work as many as 12 hours a day. Others work occasional late hours.
That WAC personnel had, in its sixteen months in this theater, become an essential and integral part of the United States Army forces here may be judged from the fact that request for increase of quota of 10,950 is currently being prepared; that several sections, notably Quartermaster, Signal and Special and Information Services are requisitioning WAC personnel in increasing numbers, that Supreme Headquarters policy anticipates utilization of WAC personnel in the Army of Occupation in relatively large numbers; and that general theater recognition was recently accorded the Corps by the award of the Legion of Merit, on October 20 to Lieutenant Colonel Anna W. Wilson, WAC Staff Director.
The first member of the Women's Army Corps to receive this award, Lieutenant Colonel Wilson was cited for "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services as Director of Women's Army Corps, Personnel, Headquarters, European Theater of Operations from 14 April 1943 to 4 October 1944. She has been directly responsible for the success of the WAC in the European Theater of Operations."
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All data, including the following cables and letters may be found in the 324.5 or 322.3A
files of AG, USAFBI; AG, ETO, or AG, SOS, records of G-1 WAC Section; The Stars and Stripes or in press releases by the
Public Relations Office, ETO.
1. Unnumbered cable in USAFBI, AG File 322.3A
2. Sable 2854
3. Cable 1014
4. Cable 1739
5. Cable 4733
6. Cable 4770
7. Cable 3558
8. Cables 2824 and 856
9. Cable 5445
10. Cable 6126
11. Ltr. to G-1, ETO from Chief of Planning Division WAAC #24 AG ETO File 324.5 Volume I.
12. Cable 8245
13. Ltr Ca 601-S
14. Engineer Bulletin #65 - 5 August 1943
15. Engineer Bulletin #84 October 10, 1943
16. Office of Chief Quartermaster, ETO 420.314 Q-S-17 July 1943
17. Reference letter SP-QRD-420 8 April 1943 letter of QM General
18. Schedule of Maximum on hand and maintenance allowances for WAC officers clothing 25 July 1943, Office of Chief Quartermaster APO 871
19. QM requisition 2-A-45-43.
20. Administrative Circular #51 Hq. SOS, ETO, 16 August 1943
21. AEF Memo #4, 20 May 1943
22. WAAC Branch Memo to Hq. 8th AF Fighter Command, 14 June 1943.
23. Cable W 3877
24. AG 320.2 WAC (14 October l943) PR-W-SPGAS
25. File AG 320.2 WAC (18 Feb 44) POW-N-A Quota of WAC Personnel for ETO.
26. Teletype from CG 8th Air Force to ETOUSA, 16 July reference 625.
27. Reference War Branch Strength Report, 10 January 1944.
28. Hq. ETO letter AG 324.5, 8 Sept. 1943.
29. AG letter Hq., ETO 421. MGA (ETO 7 November 1943 and AG 324.5 CGA ETO 9 (15 Nov 1943).
30. E 31187
31. Cable E 27307, 11 May 1944
32. Cable to AGWAR E 38686
33. Hq. ET0 letter - AG 321/5 MGA 31 December 1943.
34. Cable to AGWAR, W8069
35. Cable to AGWAR 9498
36. Letter AG 337, 11 February 1944.
37. Letter AG 337 OPGA, 31 October 1944 and E58232, 28 October 1944
38. Cable W10757 AGWAR 7 February 1944.
39. Hq. ETO Circular 69, 13 June as amended by circular 80, 12 July 1944.
40. Cable 9779, 24 February 1944
41. Hq ETO AG 220.2 MPM, 27 May 1944, WD Circular 220, 2 June 1944
42. Hq. Com Zone ETO letter AG 370.5 MPGA, 14 September 1944
43. ETO letter AG 220.2 MPGA 26 June 1944
[NOTE: Remainder of endnotes are missing from the manuscript]
ETO HQ 44 6133 MARQUARDT 29 Jun Credit...Signal Corps Photo
LT.COL. Anna W. Wilson, 12224 Hillslop Studio City, Calif, WAC Staff Director of the European Theater of Operations, who has been detailed on General Staff of G1.
No further caption available
When Virginia C. Reynolds, of Rt 1, Fenton, Mich, joined the WAC she found an opportunity to put her schooling at Michigan State College to work. She holds a bachelor's degree in landscaping, and in connection with her work spent sometime at a drafting table. When the Army found that out, they found a spot for her. Here she is, hard at work. She is one of a contingent of WACs assigned to an airbase somewhere in the ETO.
No further caption available
ETO-HQ-43-6817-PEARSON-21 Sep 43
Credit....Signal Corps Photo
WACs operating switchboards at a busy telephone exchange keep their gas masks and helmets close at hand and prepare to carry on under any emergency.
T/3 Lois V. Parker, daughter of Mrs. Florence M. Parker, 140 Idora St., San Francisco, Calif., is private secretary to Lt. Col. Edgar L. Morris, Columbia, S.C., Chief of Information Section of the Intelligence Division of the Engineer Corps somewhere in England. Sergeant Parker has participated in three wars, has traveled the continent since 1936 -- England, Germany and Italy, has also traveled in Japan and China.