Removal of Director's Office to G-1 Division
There remained one step to be taken in the evolution of the WAC organization. This was the removal of the Office of the Director from the Army Service Forces to the General Staff level. During January and February of 1944, a number of contributing causes led directly to this move, the last in the series by which the Corps was fully integrated into the normal command channels of the Army.
There had for some time been general agreement within the War Department that the past two years' method of handling Corps' problems was unsatisfactory, and that some sort of remedial action was called for, with more high-level attention to its problems than the Corps had yet received. A prominent civilian special assistant, who was called upon by the Army Service Forces to diagnose the situation during the conversion crisis, bluntly informed it that its headquarters had in fact killed the WAAC with its left hand while publicly sponsoring it with its right. He wrote:
The situation with respect to the WAC is such that I believe immediate action is necessary, and that such action must be of rather far-reaching nature. Does the Army really want the WAC to succeed? I am not at all convinced that the answer to this question is "yes." . . . I have seen no real evidence of 'such a desire . . . . Are civilians really convinced that the WAC is an important organization? Civilians will be convinced of this only when the Army is convinced of it . . . . It should not be necessary to review arguments why the WAC must succeed. The Army started this program, and it is obviously a good idea to be associated with successful programs.1
A similar view had been voiced by Colonel Catron, after ten months of assignment to WAAC Headquarters. Later, "acting on my own initiative, but with the knowledge of Director Hobby," he had bypassed his former associates in the Army Service Forces to inform the General Staff directly, "In my opinion, the situation calls for . . . the military authorities to recognize an obligation to the WAAC, to the Army, and to the women of the country, to help make the WAC a go."2
At the time of the conversion, the Deputy Chief of Staff, General McNarney, therefore directed the General Staff to recommend a new location for the Director's Office. After analysis, G-3 Division
reported that the location in the Army Service Forces was not suitable. Although the Director WAC was a special adviser to the Chief of Staff, and was responsible for advice concerning Air, Ground, and Service Forces, she was currently obliged to submit all papers to or through the Army Service Forces. The G-3 planners noted: "This form of organization is not entirely satisfactory, as the scope of WAC matters is Army-wide and determination of all basic policies should properly be made at the War Department level." 3
G-3 Division therefore recommended that the office be placed under G-1 Division of the General Staff, comparable in place to the Military Intelligence Division under G-2, or else, and preferably, be made an independent Special Staff division, like Civil Affairs Division. The Special Staff location, although it was never to be adopted, was always the one recommended by organizational experts. G-3 Division pointed out that the Director's responsibilities were not limited to G-1 matters and that the Special Staff location "will expedite direct consultation with appropriate divisions of the General Staff.''4
Director Hobby concurred in either move, but General Somervell nonconcurred and presented a counterplan that would keep the Office of the Director under his jurisdiction. He proposed that it be attached to his own office, and not be placed under any subordinate office such as that of General Grunert or of General Dalton. He agreed also that the Director would be allowed to consult directly with Air and Ground Forces on matters that did not concern the Service Forces.5
General Somervell's plan prevailed; at the time of the conversion, General McNarney verbally advised Colonel Hobby to try the plan for several months and see if it would work. As a matter of fact, it was to be exactly six months before all concerned were convinced that the plan would not work.
Handicaps on ASF Level
During the early weeks of 1944, General Marshall called to his office General White and other officers to express his dissatisfaction with the situation, particularly as it affected recruiting.
Among issues leading toward a move from the ASF level, the major one was that of supply. In the midst of debate over the Austin-Wadsworth bill, members of Congress began publicly to criticize the WAC uniform. Criticism from Army stations, particularly air bases, was equally severe. Very little honest defense against the criticisms was possible. In spite of the easing of the supply problem, which had presumably resulted from the collapse of expansion plans eight months before, the situation remained approximately where it had been at that time.
Severe shortages still existed on field stations; recruits in training centers still did not receive complete clothing issue, and still suffered high sick rates; and the appearance of the uniform had not been improved in any respect. Since the Army Service Forces had now been responsible for the WAC uniform for almost two years, it did not appear that either inexperience or rapid build-up could any longer be offered in explanation. However, eight separate proposals for improving the situation-made by the Army Air Forces, by
The Quartermaster General, and by the Director-were all disapproved by Requirements Division, ASF, by the end of February of 1944, without any workable counterproposals. The last two proposals were addressed to the General Staff by authority of Circular 289, as a matter of the well-being of women in all major commands, but were disapproved by the Army Service Forces and turned back without reaching the General Staff.6
In the matter of public relations, a rapid deterioration had been noted after the Army Service Forces took over operating duties at the conversion. None of the Director's suggestions made at the time of the slander campaign were accepted, and in the first weeks of 1944, a series of publicity releases were so poor as to come to the attention of the Chief of Staff himself. General Marshall in January sent a stiff note to the Bureau of Public Relations: "It seems to me that very poor use is made of the best publicity possibilities in the WAC organization . . . . Who is handling this business?"7
As for soldier opinion, the Director had been unable, as late as February 1944, to secure the assignment of specialists to either ASF Morale Services or Special Services Divisions, to work on the improvement of soldier opinion or WAC morale.
Similarly, in November of 1943 General Marshall had directed that, in order to improve the supply and health situation at Fort Oglethorpe, a ranking WAC officer be made commandant. Although the Director twice reminded General Somervell's office of this directive, no action had been taken by late February.8
Also in November, General Marshall directed that some WAC officers now be made lieutenant colonels, to fill position vacancies that had existed for eighteen months. However, Air Forces proposals to this effect were subsequently refused by the Army Service Forces upon General Somervell's personal written advice. In a separate study, General Somervell instead recommended giving direct commissions in this rank to socially prominent civilian women. It was this action that led the Assistant Chief of Air Staff to appear personally in the War Department seeking the removal of the Director's Office from General Somervell's jurisdiction.9
A particular cause of interservice friction was the handling of papers on WAC matters, which received Army Service Forces comment in cases that, had they involved men, would not have been handled by the ASF at all. For a time it had been hoped that the objections of the Air and Ground Forces, and of overseas theaters, could be met by the new status of the Director's Office as a part of General Somervell's own office, with authorization for direct communication with the Air and Ground Forces and the General Staff on matters that did not concern the Service Forces. Unfortunately, it soon developed that in actual operating practice there was little difference in the office's former position, since it became General Somervell's custom to route all outgoing WAC papers through the office's former superior, Gen-
eral Dalton, as well as through other ASF divisions. Disapprovals of policy recommendations by General Dalton or by Requirements Division, ASF, excited increasingly unfavorable comment from other commands in matters which concerned them solely, or would not normally have received Army Service Forces'' comment.10
Move to General Staff Authorized
In February of 1944, as a result of these complaints, Director Hobby went personally to General Somervell to ask clarification of her office's status. He asked her to present the problem in writing, which she did, attaching as corpus delicti some three defunct policy papers which she had addressed, supposedly directly, to the General Staff; all of which had been disapproved upon General Dalton's recommendation. All three concerned policies that were Army-wide, and one was solely an Air Forces proposal.11
Upon receipt of the Director's protest, General Somervell immediately recommended in writing to General Marshall that the Office of the Director be moved from his jurisdiction to that of the General Staff. General Somervell stated, "The office of the Director WAC is concerned primarily with matters affecting policy for the WAC which are applicable on an Army-wide basis in three major commands."12 When later acquainted with his action, Colonel Hobby stated that, if allowed to comment, she would have expressed ready concurrence.13
As a result, General Marshall called Director Hobby in for a conference and directed that the Office of the Director be moved to G-1 Division, War Department General Staff, effective 1 March 1944.14 Because of the small size of G-1 Division, the Director's Office again had to be reduced in size, this time to the Director and four-later only two-other officers, including Major Rice as Deputy.
The Meek Report
The move was still in process, with office furniture not yet installed, when General Somervell's office received a lengthy written report, which it forwarded to General Marshall. The report was in the nature of a sweeping criticism of the conduct of the WAC program to date, alleging that Director Hobby and her advertising advisers had overlooked many obvious means of improving recruitment, had failed to improve the WAC uniform, and had allowed the WAC to fall far below the WAVES in public esteem. This study came to be called the Meek Report after its author, Mr. Samuel W. :Meek, a member of the advertising agency of J. Walter Thompson, a competitor of the firm that handled official WAC advertising, Young & Rubicam.15
The Meek Report alleged, among other things, that the public was not aware of the urgency of the Army's need for Wacs;
that the WAC did not have the public standing of the WAVES; that three out of four women said they would choose the WAVES in preference to the WAC; that the public thought Waves got better treatment, more suitable jobs, more attractive uniforms; and that the WAVES had commissioned more outstanding women educators, whereas the WAC had not offered direct commissions to prominent women. Mr. Meek recommended that publicity tie-ins with high-ranking officers be used, that more prominent women be directly commissioned, and that society news pages then publicize the backgrounds of these new WAC leaders.
General Marshall called Director Hobby to his office on 15 March 1944 and, over Mr. Meek's objections, handed her the surveys and directed her to study these charges and prepare recommendations. This she did, first in a preliminary report and then in a confidential staff study which, because of its outcome, was to rank as perhaps the most important WAC policy paper of the Corps' career.16
The charges in the Meek Report proved, in themselves, unfounded and easy to counter. The only new survey of "public" opinion for which it contained documented statistics proved to consist chiefly of interviews with 111 college girls, 94 of them from Vassar, and with several prominent women, including women's magazine editors.17 By contrast, the Young & Rubicam campaign had been based on a confidential Gallup survey of a scientifically chosen national sample of 1431 eligible women and 1415 parents of eligibles.
The two surveys often differed. Meek stated that the public was unaware of the urgency of the Army's need for Wacs; Gallup found that a record 85 percent said they were aware of it, and when asked "Which women's service is in the greatest need of more women?" 58 percent said the WAC, only 14 percent the WAVES. The WAC advertising under Young & Rubicam thus appeared to have been more effective than was alleged. Meek stated that the public liked the WAVES better than the WAC, and that 66 percent of eligible women said they would choose the WAVES as against 20 percent the WAC; Gallup's non-Vassar eligibles answered: War work-51 percent, WAC-12 percent, WAVES-10 percent. The only statement which no one disputed was that about the uniform, for Gallup had always reported that only a few women preferred the WAC uniform.
Director Hobby was also able to prove that the WAC had, some months before, taken every action recommended by Mr. Meek except direct commissions and short-term enlistments: it had used publicity from every prominent person named, offered station assignment, used society pages, publicized overseas assignment as far as surveys showed desirable, obtained two Gallup and two scientific Army opinion surveys, mailed literature to parents, and so on. None of these steps had ended the Corps' problems or come near its basic difficulties.
In countering the various charges, it proved easily possible to discuss those of the Director's previous recommendations that the Army Service Forces had disapproved. The Director, perceiving this opening, at once drove straight through with two memoranda and ten appendixes.18 These consisted of important parts of her own program, previously suppressed by the Army Service Forces, for improving the WAC's situation. This was the first opportunity to bring most of these proposals to the attention of the Chief of Staff.
When the Chief of Staffs final verdict was rendered, more of the Director's proposals concerning major issues had been approved in two weeks than had previously been done in the past two years in the Army Service Forces. The proposals were concerned chiefly with soldier attitude, public relations, and the uniform.
Corrective Action by the Chief of Staff
The first two issues, soldier opinion and public attitude, Colonel Hobby unhesitatingly named as the basic difficulty of the WAC program. Dismissing all lesser theories, which attributed recruiting difficulties to ignorance, WAVES prestige, the uniform, the failure to grant direct commissions, poor jobs, the desire for shorter enlistments, and other petty causes, she said flatly, "The two greatest deterrents to WAC recruiting are the attitude of soldiers toward women in the military service and the apathy of unmarried non-working women.19
General Marshall saw for the first time some of the slander campaign material, including literature which soldiers had mimeographed and circulated to almost every Army installation at home and abroad.20 He saw a sample of the many letters, with which the WAC files were now bulging, from Wacs and eligible women .21 He also saw cartoons from soldier publications all over the nation.22 The most unexpected exhibits were certain anti-WAC statements made by high-ranking Army officers, all except one of whom were combat officers without experience in WAC employment. These Colonel Hobby revealed by name only after being twice expressly commanded to do so.23 One general remarked, in a national magazine, "Fortunately I've no experience with that particular species [Wacs] and what's more I don't want any of them around here.24 The Director commented, "The attitude of the officers and enlisted men in the field will never change to the degree desired as long as key personnel, whose expressions can be assumed to reflect the War Department attitude, make statements such as these."25
To remedy the Army attitude, Colonel Hobby proposed a campaign of re-education similar to that which General Bowley had proposed twenty years before. She asked that the Army attempt to change the soldiers' attitude by including material on the Corps' usefulness in the Army orientation course, by which other soldier attitudes were successfully influenced. She asked that available films on the WAC be shown in this course, and a new film
made, specifically designed to reach the soldier. She asked that a Wac officer be assigned to Morale Services, ASF, to direct the distribution and clearance of WAC news and cartoons to camp newspapers; also, that an enlisted woman be assigned to the staff of rank magazine, previously unfavorable editorially. She asked that courses on the organization of the Army mention the WAC. And particularly, she asked that general officers clear with the Bureau of Public Relations before making public statements concerning the WAC.
General Marshall very soon approved much of this program. General Somervell now concurred in the orientation course material, and in the assignment to Morale Services and Special Services Divisions of a WAC officer and an enlisted woman. He protested that to require general officers to clear their remarks on the WAC was too drastic. He suggested instead that General Marshall write a letter to general officers discussing the problem, similar to the Marine Corps Commandant's letter sent out some seven months earlier concerning the treatment of Women Marines.26 This alternative was acceptable to General Marshall, who immediately wrote not only to all generals but to all Army commanding officers, pointing out that the Army was about to launch another drive for Wacs to meet "imperative" needs, and that he expected to have the drive supported. He added:
The Women's Army Corps is now an integral part of the Army and a highly essential part of our war effort . . . . However, reports indicate that there are local commanders who have failed to provide the necessary leadership and have in fact in some instance made evident their disapproval of the Women's Army Corps. The attitude of the men has quickly reflected the leadership of their commanders, as always.
All commanders in the military establishment are charged with the duty of seeing that the dignity and importance of the work which women are performing are recognized and that the policy of the War Department is supported by strong affirmative action.27
In the matter of the uniform, Colonel Hobby presented General Marshall with a list of her previous recommendations to the Army Service Forces, from August of 1942 to date. It appeared that General Somervell had not been aware until after the Meek Report was forwarded to General Marshall that the condition of the WAC uniform resulted from disapproval of the Director's proposals by various echelons of his own command. Colonel Hobby informed General Marshall that the Service Forces had already begun restudying some of her requests by direction of its commanding general.28 General Marshall within a few weeks approved eight separate policy recommendations made by the Director and The Quartermaster General, all previously rejected by the Army Service Forces. These were shortly to work a considerable change in
the appearance of the uniform, although many were unfortunately too late to reach the field in the one remaining year before the end of the war in Europe.
In the matter of public relations, the Director asked General Marshall to direct the formation of a co-ordinating board, which would not only initiate and direct an Army-wide constructive informational campaign, but would comment on the possible public relations effect of decisions concerning the WAC before the decisions were released. General Somervell stated, when asked to comment, that such a board was not necessary.29 Colonel Hobby replied that General Somervell's attitude was "not in accord with fact or experience," and that "The present situation has been unfortunate and it can reasonably be expected that a continuation of uncontrolled and uncoordinated activity on the part of literally hundreds of issuing agencies will continue to be unsatisfactory . . . .''30
General Marshall, who had supposed that such a board already existed, overrode objections and directed General Surles of the Bureau of Public Relations to set up the co-ordinating group, saying, "I have personally taken every opportunity to support the WAC . . . . It is necessary that a central agency of the War Department be charged with the problem of keeping the public informed of matters concerning the WAC and of controlling the issuance of such information."31
Colonel Hobby also took this opportunity to secure the Chief of Staffs approval of several lesser projects which had previously been rejected at lower levels. One concerned equal provision for the WAC in the Army's demobilization plans, which were already being drawn up, and in which planners had made no provision for women. General Marshall approved the greater part of what she asked, which was to be of considerable importance at a later period. 32 Another proposal was for the centralization of recruiting control in the hands of specialists in The Adjutant General's Office, similar to that just approved in Public Relations. These and other recommended reforms in the Recruiting Service were all approved by General Marshall, with far-reaching later effects.33
The Director also concurred in one of the suggestions made in the Meek Report, the establishment of a civilian advisory committee composed of prominent women in each service command, modeled on the group that she had established in the Women's Interests Section of the Bureau of Public Relations, when she had organized that office in prewar days. This recommendation, providing for both local and national committees, was also approved. General Somervell concurred, provided that he be allowed to choose the prominent woman to head the national committee.34
Within a few weeks, by General Marshall's action, there were six WAC lieutenant colonels. In April, a WAC officer was also assigned as commandant of the Third WAC Training Center.35
In a final comment on the Meek Report, General Somervell sent the Chief of Staff another study recommending that key WAC officers be replaced by promi-
nent women to be selected by him and directly commissioned. He also stated that WAC leaders had too much control of WAC affairs, and that Colonel Hobby's current powers should be reduced by eliminating those of direct dealing with the major commands, of handling staff co-ordination on WAC matters, of taking any action, and of maintaining separate records.36
None of these recommendations was adopted. The Army's new policy toward the WAC, as forcibly inaugurated here by General Marshall, was keynoted by the introduction of specialist groups or specialist officers in almost every major office that handled WAC matters. The new location also ensured that Army-wide recommendations from the Office of the Director would not be rejected without consideration by the General Staff: From this time throughout General Marshall's tenure of office, specialist attention to women's welfare was to be the rule rather than the exception-with, however, the specialists concerned being fully integrated into their respective Army sections.
With the completion of the move to G-1 Division, and the accomplishment of the changes as approved by General Marshall, the Women's Army Corps completed its stage of organization and development, and entered a new phase of its career. Freed of the burden now assumed by the specialist groups, the small Office of the Director was to devote most of its time toward planning for the solution of the more intangible social and welfare problems which, although pushed into the background until now, had from the beginning attended the integration of women into military service.
The two years just ended had seen the discovery of the Corps' problems in public relations, clothing supply, administration, and many others. The next sixteen months in G-1 Division, before the end of the war and Director Hobby's resignation, were to see workable solutions devised for all but five of the problems now on the Director's calendar.
The Corps was, by its second anniversary in May 1944, already world-wide in distribution and approaching peak strength in numbers. Corps strength in June was almost 77,000, with the peak of 100,000 not too far distant. In the United States, Wacs were present at 193 Air Forces installations, and 176 Ground Forces and Service Forces stations. Almost 10,000 women were already overseas in every major theater of operations-North Africa, Italy, England, Australia, New Guinea, India-as well as in Hawaii, Alaska, and other smaller bases.37
In May of 1944, the authorized strength was reallotted among the major commands:38
|Army Service Forces
|Army Air Forces
|Army Ground Forces
" Including training centers
In these widely scattered Army commands, with their varying needs and policies, lay the further history of WAC employment, and success or failure on Army jobs.
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