The Employment of Personnel: Officers

Few if any of Director Hobby's recommended policy changes concerned the well-being of WAC officers, whom she believed to be in a position to solve their own problems. She stated, "The WAC is an enlisted women's Army component .... The enlisted woman is the Corps. We, the officers, exist for the prime purpose of insuring her welfare . . . ." 1  For this reason, most of the provisions made for the employment of officers were concerned only with insuring adequate numbers for troop duty, proper selection, and suitable training. In other matters it was assumed that WAC officers-as had nurses for decades-had the pay and the freedom to provide for themselves without much special provision on the part of the Army.

Officer job assignments included not only Corps administration, which had existed since WAAC days, but also jobs in replacement of an Army officer, which were dubbed "operational." Some attempt was made, when WAC officers first became eligible for this latter duty, to analyze all Army officer jobs and list those suitable for women, as had already been done in the case of enlisted jobs. In this process, The Adjutant General's Office listed only those officer assignments that were noncombatant, suitable in environment, and within a woman's strength. Automatically eliminated were all duties requiring unusual civilian experience or long training time, all usually held by senior officers, and all dealing exclusively with men. Such analyses, like those of enlisted jobs, proved fruitless under the actual assignment system, because various Army commands to which WAC officers were assigned determined their assignment without reference to The Adjutant General.2

Restrictions on Officer Assignment

Only two restrictions were ever placed upon this power of local commanders to determine WAC officer assignment, and neither was committed to a formal War Department publication. One of these, as in the case of enlisted women, concerned nonmilitary assignment. In late 1944 the director of ASF's Control Division noted:

The attention of this office has been called recently to instances in which it appears that WAC officers are not being assigned to jobs which are commensurate with their grades,


or which could not be performed by civilian clerks.3

The tendency to assign WAC officers to such work appeared related to misunderstandings as to status, dating from Auxiliary days. The Army Air Forces, as soon as it received WAC officers, therefore published instructions pointing out that they must fill bona fide officer allotments.4  The Service Forces did not publish instructions on the subject, but attempted to correct individual cases wherever they were discovered by inspectors.

A second and somewhat related restriction concerned the assignment of WAC officers as aides, secretaries, and sometimes chauffeurs to general officers. Even if an officer grade was provided, the assigned duties seldom sounded like those of officers. One such Wac upon her return to the United States gave reporters a description of her duties which got national publicity:

I took all the dictation and did the typing . . . . I did the filing and answered the telephone . . . . I always saw to it that he had his eyeglasses and his wallet .... I kept a check on clean shirts. I laid out clean clothes and I would pack his bags for trips. I also sewed on ribbons and buttons . . . . I always had so much to do, with my office in my bedroom.5

She also, she added, served as hostess at parties. For these duties, she was promoted to the rank of major and received the Legion of Merit.

In spite of the danger of poor publicity on these assignments, they eventually became so prevalent that the War Department acted to forbid them. At Director Hobby's request, the Deputy Chief of Staff, General McNarney, wrote personal letters to the commanding generals of all major domestic commands and all overseas theaters, saying:
It has recently been brought to the attention of the Chief of Staff that commissioned officers of the Women's Army Corps have sometimes been assigned or utilized as aides to general officers, as chauffeurs, and for routine stenographic duty normally performed by enlisted or civilian personnel.
While such assignments of female officers are considered inappropriate and inadvisable, it is not desired to issue any formal War Department regulation on this subject, nor is it desired that your headquarters issue any formal instructions. On the other hand, if instances of such improper use . . . occur in any activity under your command, you should take appropriate corrective action.
It is particularly desired that there be no publicity on this subject. 6

Commanders in the field frequently failed to comply with the provisions of this letter, especially overseas where such War Department opinion was at best deemed merely advisory. In the European theater, by the end of the war, no less than forty-five WAC officers-14 percent of the total-were serving as personal assistants to ranking officers. In almost every such case, unwarranted criticism was incurred by both employer and subordinate, and the impression sometimes created that officers of the Women's Army Corps received promotions and awards for duties that were not essentially those of an officer. Inasmuch as male officers were also at times employed in the same duties of aide and handy-man, the problem could not be considered entirely a WAC one, although newspaper innuendoes were pos-


sible that were usually not applied to male aides.

Limitations on Further WAC Commissions

Almost all other War Department directives on WAC officers concerned the numbers and skills needed properly to administer enlisted personnel.7  Soon after the conversion, Director Hobby recommended to the War Department that the WAC ratio of officers to enlisted be the same as that of the Army, or about 1 to 11. The WAAC ratio had been somewhat lower, 1 to 14, in view of the fact that officers of the Auxiliary had not been eligible for other than troop duty. After discussion, General White of G-1 Division agreed to issue the necessary directives to set the ratio of 1 to 11.8

A nonconcurrence to the proposed action was offered by ASF's Military Personnel Division. In view of the current overstrength of male officers, Military Personnel Division proposed that the WAC officer-enlisted ratio be set at 1 to 20, stating:

It is believed that the ratio of 1 to 20 will provide adequate numbers of officers for all known needs. It will not provide officers for wholesale replacement of AUS [male] officers in installations in which either AU S or WAC officers could be utilized. Until the present overstrength of AUS officers is absorbed, it is not believed advantageous to commission, train, and utilize large numbers of WAC officers in positions which these AUS officers can fill.9

To bring the Corps down to this ratio, ASF proposed that the WAC officer candidate school be cut to the lowest possible amount that would permit its continued operation-100 every 3 months. These proposals were approved by the War Department, and the Director's Office was so advised.10

This move was not satisfactory to the Office of the Director, particularly since the output of male officer candidate schools for troop duty was not similarly curtailed in spite of the overstrength of male officers.11  Also, WAVES recruiters still continued able to offer 250 monthly commissions to prospects, although the WAVES already had a higher proportion of officers than the WAC.12

A short time later, the War Department Manpower Board recommended that the WAC officer candidate school be entirely suspended. Director Hobby objected, pointing out, "Such action would be demoralizing to morale within the Corps and would be a serious deterrent to recruiting.13  The Army Service Forces agreed that "the effect of such action on recruiting would not only result in a decrease in the number of women recruited but also in the caliber of women recruited." 14  At ASF's recommendation, the WAC officer candidate school was


therefore not abolished, but its capacity was further reduced, this time to only 50 every three months, or 200 a year. This was a token enrollment that would not make up officer attrition, and that would allow each WAC company on the average to send only one candidate every two years.15

The Officers' Pool

Director Hobby's office was not at the moment in a position to offer strong objections to these decisions, in view of the current numbers of unassigned WAC officers. Although requisitions for enlisted women were plentiful, most Army commands had not, as of this date, shown any similar enthusiasm for WAC officers.

The officers' pool began its existence soon after the collapse of the short-lived WAAC expansion program. As training centers and specialists' schools closed, most of their officer cadre was assigned to an officers' pool. To this group was added each week the graduates of the large officer candidate classes which had been enrolled to administer the expected recruits. By the time of the conversion to Army status, the WAC officers' pool included over 1,000 officers, almost one fifth of the Corps' total officer strength.16

The seriousness of the situation was not immediately realized, since it was expected that, under the newly acquired Army status, jobs would be immediately forthcoming. In the Auxiliary Corps, women officers had been eligible for troop duty only, but Army membership opened to them the whole range of technical, professional, and administrative officer duties.

Immediately upon the effective date of the WAC legislation, the Army Air Forces requisitioned and successfully assigned 800 of these officers. However, with the closing of further training centers, the officers' pool quickly refilled itself. The Army Service Forces, which assumed control of the pool at the conversion, proved unable to assign any number of these women. In attempting to do so, ASF first informally directed its service commands to submit requisitions. The response was not enthusiastic, since too many noncombat men had been commissioned and were in some cases being relieved of active duty for lack of assignments. Eventually, ASF was forced to direct service commands to take 800 WAC officers on temporary duty, with the understanding that the women would be permanently assigned if they proved able to take over the duties of male officers gradually being sent overseas. This move was not a success either, as officers did not move overseas in sufficient numbers.17

By the end of the WAC's first six months in the Army, the situation was critical. The WAC officers' pool now contained about 1500 members, or about one fourth of all WAC officers, and was incurring


severe public and Congressional censure and causing internal morale problems. Had the idle members been inanimate objects, no problem would have existed, since all would be needed within the next two years to staff new companies, but it was increasingly apparent that they could not be kept indefinitely, like so many cold-storage eggs, without spoilage.

The unhappy officers were formed in companies and commanded like enlisted women. As weeks passed in inactivity, there was afforded again an example of the reaction of women to idleness-or, as some psychiatrists termed it, the "volunteer" reaction. The unassigned officers' morale quickly vanished, and their attitudes plumbed the extremes of despair, anger, and disillusionment. Years later, no officer who had spent months in the officers' pool could be found who did not denounce the experience, and it appeared to many authorities that if WAC leadership had not already been ruined by poor selection, many potential leaders were now permanently warped beyond restoration. Officers in the pool, instead of aiding in WAC recruiting in order to secure themselves companies, were frequently found to have been advising friends that "it was a horrible mistake to join the WAC.18

When, six months after the ASF took it over, the officers' pool was not reduced, Maj. Katherine R. Goodwin, soon to be designated ASF WAC Officer, went personally to General Robinson of Control Division, ASF, to ask decisive action.19  This also produced no discernible results.

Reclassification Proposals

To assist the ASF in fulfilling its assignment responsibilities for these officers, the Director proposed measures to reclassify and relieve from service all WAC officers, wherever located, whose performance had been unsatisfactory, thus leaving vacancies for more capable ones. A committee of the Director's staff, including General Faith before his reassignment, informed her that it was "common knowledge within the corps" that there were some WAC officers whose ability and behavior did not merit commissioned status and whose commanders repeatedly asked to transfer them to a training center or pool but, upon being told to reclassify them under Army Regulations, could not bring themselves to do so.20

Upon General Faith's advice, the Director proposed to the War Department that, to stimulate reclassification, commanders in all major commands be allowed to send such women for 90 days to a review board at Fort Des Moines, which, after medical examination and on-the-job observation in different duties, would return them with a recommendation for appropriate action by the command. The Director noted, "Commanders in the field are loath to apply the same standards of efficiency to WAC officers which they require of male officers." 21  However, this proposal for reducing the number of unassigned officers was refused by ASF on grounds that it might usurp the prerogatives of field commanders by preventing them from reclassifying an officer without first sending her to Des Moines.22


Until after the Director's move to G-1 Division, no solution to the problem could be found. However, within two weeks of the move, a dramatically sudden solution occurred, creditable to General Somervell. At a meeting of the commanding generals of service commands in March, General Somervell called for a vigorous drive to assign WAC officers to permanent jobs which would release male troop age officers needed for overseas shipments. So emphatic was his language that within a few weeks all but 250 of the 1,515 officers in the WAC officers' pool had been permanently assigned.23

Shortage of WAC Troop Officers

Within a few months a sudden reversal of the situation took place, and there was a shortage rather than a surplus of WAC officers. Had it been possible to hold the pool officers idle for another year or six months, troop assignments would have been eventually forthcoming. New recruits required officers; training centers needed to rotate fatigued senior officers to the field; field companies needed new junior officers to permit normal upward progress among troop officers; overseas theaters needed junior officers for the same purpose. In all of these jobs, WAC officers were essential, since men could not be substituted on WAC administration.

Director Hobby therefore, with the support of ASF's Director of Personnel, proposed that the WAC officer candidate school output be raised to meet minimum needs. It was pointed out that if even the 1-to-20 ratio, and not the Army ratio, was applied to the 4,000 new recruits entering monthly, the WAC would be entitled to 200 officer candidates a month instead of the current 200 a year. 24

This request was refused by the General Staff "owing to the present officer strength of the Army. 25  Instead, it was suggested that some of the almost 2,000 WAC officers recently forced on service commands for non-WAC duties be retrieved and reassigned to troop duty. No great difficulty was anticipated, since the pool officers had been in fact a shotgun allotment. A survey was therefore launched, with each Army command required to state how many WAC officers it was not using on WAC administration, and how many of these could be released for assignment to duty with WAC troops.

Unfortunately for this project, it was found that the Wacs could no more be recovered than water from sand. Domestic Army commands admitted that, of their 5,038 Wac officers, only 1,626 were being used on troop work, and the remaining 3,412 were in staff jobs that could be filled by a male officer. Of these 3,412, commands alleged that all but 63 were now in work too essential to permit them to be released and replaced by a man, even though some had been unwillingly accepted only six months before. Only 63 unsatisfactory officers were offered for transfer to WAC troop duty.26

At this there began an undignified scramble for the acquisition of the 200yearly output of officer candidate school, punctuated by frequent allegations of unsportsmanlike methods by contenders.

The ASF, which controlled the training centers, directed that all graduates be as-


signed to training centers to permit rotation of tired training officers to the field.27  Training authorities felt that the efficiency of training centers was the primary consideration; that a new officer needed such assignment "to become used to her bars" 28  and that seasoned training center officers "are the best source of officers for field company duty."29  The AAF nonconcurred when it discovered this action, since it contributed 42 percent of the officer candidates and expected 42 percent of the graduates, preferably the same individuals it had sent. Newly commissioned second lieutenants were badly needed to permit promotion in field companies; fatigued captains with training center experience were useless because of their rank and sometimes because they had acquired a training center concept of discipline and daily routine that proved unworkable in the field. Still a third viewpoint was offered by some of the technical services concerning new graduates who had signal, scientific, or other specialized skills desired by these services, which would be wasted in troop duty.

G-1 Division, from which Director Hobby was now operating, agreed with the Air Forces that the welfare of WAC detachments in the field took precedence, and ordered The Adjutant General to give first priority to company duty, with all graduates returned to the major commands with which they had served as enlisted women. The Adjutant General by August of 1944 was in the position of having 650 urgent requisitions for WAC troop officers and only 182 available from all sources to fill them.30

This competition, while gratifying to those who previously had found a WAC officer unassignable, resulted from an absence of normal officer candidate graduation that proved unfortunate for the leadership for WAC troops. Of some 70,000 new recruits obtained after the virtual cessation of officer candidate training, very few ever had opportunity, to be commissioned, although many of these women appeared far superior in leadership potentialities to those so hastily commissioned earlier.

Among those women already commissioned, troop duty, which was intended to be their primary interest, became a matter of abhorrence and was abandoned by many of the most capable officers. In the absence of a supply of second lieutenants, troop officers were frozen in their jobs and company duty became a dead-end street, with no chance of progress for junior officers or relief for tired commanders. On the other hand, WAC officers in Army staff jobs progressed normally and soon had too much rank to be rotated to junior company jobs even if the branches that had given them specialist training would have released them. Non-WAC staff jobs offered not only more progress but also less strenuous hours. The tired and unpromoted company commander, hurrying from dinner back to company conferences of an evening, was obliged to behold less capable but higher-ranking desk officers enjoying their after office leisure at the officers' club.

Over a period of time, many of even the most devoted troop officers requested relief from troop duty; and the cause of WAC leadership, far from attracting the


best officers, gradually fell more and more to those unable to qualify for staff jobs or unable because of inferior ability to rise above the grade of lieutenant.31

The War Department was never willing to interfere in the command prerogative of Army commands by directing them to release WAC officers to company duty, and all efforts to get any number released by milder methods failed completely. In the case of officers who had not yet been trained as specialists and who were obviously malassigned, individual requests for release to troop duty were made.

For example, in one case in Army Service Force Headquarters, General Dalton's request noted:
The stenographic work performed by the incumbent does not warrant the services of an officer. . . In view of the acute shortage of company officers and Lt. F's demonstrated ability as a company officer, it is recommended she be made available for transfer.

This was refused by the office of assignment, and almost without exception other offices refused to release such women for company work.32

Proposals for an A Corps

The solution proposed by Director Hobby was the same that certain British services had previously been forced to adopt: a formal division between administrators of female troops and those detailed to other corps. British women officers who were specialists in female administration proudly wore the "A" (for Administrative) lapel insignia to mark the distinction. Under Colonel Hobby's plan, an officer enlisted ratio would be set for WAC administrators only, and might well be even less than 1 to 20. The WAC officer candidate school would be reserved for these women; selection and training methods would be beamed toward production of a leader; separate allotments of grades and career management plans would insure rotation and progress; advanced leadership training would be given as WAC administrators were rotated to recruiting, training, staff, and company work, and progressed upwards from junior officers to commanders to staff directorships; and a special insignia would mark what would thus become the proudest instead of the most scorned branch of service for a woman officer.

The WAC would, in effect, become an arm or service like any other, training its own officer and enlisted specialists in its own limited field, the leadership of women, but not all women would belong to this service. All other officers and enlisted women, perhaps 90 percent of the Corps, would be cut loose from WAC designation and quotas, and become part of the arm or service in which they were detailed, attending its schools under its own quota.

Under this plan, the WAC would have exercised no more control over the selection of a female signal officer than a male. Since the Signal Corps at this time had a yearly quota of 2,600 officer candidates to meet its needs,33  the new plan proposed that the enlisted woman specialist appear before the Signal Corps officer candidate board, not the WAC board. If she qualified in competition with male applicants, she would attend the Signal Corps officer candidate school or any desired combination of WAC and Signal Corps schools, be


commissioned in the Signal Corps under its quota and not in the WAC, and thereafter be entirely under Signal Corps control. She actually would not be a Wac, but a Signal Corps officer, and could not be arbitrarily removed by the WAC, or returned to the WAC if she failed in Signal Corps work. WAC staff officers believed that women could successfully attend the officer candidate school of any noncombat arm or service, with only minor modifications in physical training and similar courses. just as enlisted women were already successfully graduating from the corresponding Army enlisted specialist courses on a coed basis.

The general outlines of such a plan were arrived at simultaneously by so many agencies that it appeared an inevitable development. The Army Air Forces had repeatedly objected to the discrimination against its enlisted women. AAF enlisted men could be sent to the Air Forces administrative officer candidate school, while equally qualified women could not be commissioned except by attendance at the WAC school, for which the AAF got a quota of only 12 a month for 40,000 women. The Air Forces first attempted to raise this quota; it pointed out that it had 700 accepted WAC officer candidates, and an urgent need for 300 of them to fill officer vacancies, and asked for special large Air WAC classes to be scheduled at WAC officer candidate school.34  This was refused by the War Department, with what the AAF believed to be consequent detriment to the leadership of its WAC squadrons. The Air WAC Officer later expressed a belief that the refusal resulted in a waste of training and loss of woman specialists, "who should have been used in their specialties rather than as company officers," and was not in accordance with

"everything that had been done in the WAC program during the previous three years [which] pointed to greater integration of WAC personnel into all commands and organizations of the Army . . . ." 35

ASF training center authorities also independently arrived at this view:

Many officers have proven totally unsuited by reason of ability., personality, or past training and experience to serve as company officers. This has proved true to a point that it would seem desirable to commission as WAC officers only those individuals regarded as qualified to serve as company officers with WAC units. If it is necessary to commission female individuals for specialized assignments not connected with WAC administration, it would be best to . . . commission them in the branch in which they would be classified in such a manner as to avoid their subsequent assignment to WAC administration.36

This principle was never to be accepted during World War II, chiefly because arms and services such as the Signal Corps refused to share their officer candidate school quota with women, and, while still requisitioning qualified women officers, continued to insist that these come from the small WAC quota.

By the end of the war, with the continued refusal either to expand the WAC officer candidate school or to admit women to other schools, the WAC ratio of officers to enlisted had shrunk to approximately the intended 1 to 20, as against about 1 to 10 for the Army. Reports from various commands indicated that as high as 85 percent of these in some areas had been removed from WAC administration.


The precarious state to which the leadership of WAC companies had thus been reduced indicated that, had the war continued, some War Department decision would have been required, either to restore the WAC to the Army ratio of officers, or to give the Office of the Director power to withdraw women specialists from the arms and services over their nonconcurrence, to staff WAC companies.

just before the end of the war, the General Staff authorized an emergency WAC officer candidate class of 200 for the month of May 1945, with increased classes intended thereafter. None of these officers reached the field in time to benefit the Corps before demobilization began, nor would these small numbers have offered any final solution to the basic dilemma had the war continued.37

Integration of Specialist Officers

Although other officer candidate schools were not yet open to them, the process of integrating women officer specialists into the arms and services had begun in a small way before the end of the war. When the Sanitary Corps requested that certain enlisted women with the necessary scientific training be commissioned and assigned to it. Director Hobby concurred, provided that the women did not count against the WAC officer candidate quota and would, if later found unsatisfactory as laboratory officers, be reclassified by the Sanitary Corps and not returned to the WAC for troop duty. When the Bureau of Public Relations requested that twenty enlisted women with civilian public relations experience be commissioned as public relations officers to fill existing shortages, a special WAC: officer candidate class was set up which did not reduce the

regular quota for troop officers. The Medical Department already had authority to commission women directly under its own quotas, and qualified enlisted women were commissioned as hospital dietitians, physiotherapists, or nurses without counting against WAC officer candidate quotas or even, in this case, against the WAC's 1-to20 ratio. 38

In time; Director Hobby departed from her rule against direct commissions insofar as to ask that enlisted women be given equal rights under any Army procurement objectives for commissioning of technical specialists. Thus, when direct commissions in The Adjutant General's Office were offered to enlisted men qualified as clinical psychologists, she asked and obtained an amendment to include equally qualified enlisted women. Finally, in 1945, G-1 Division authorized direct appointment of enlisted women under any suitable authorized procurement objectives for male officers. 'These, at this date, were very few, chiefly, Japanese linguists, acoustic technicians, and similar specialties, for which it was known that only a handful of women would be eligible. All of these women; with the exception of some in the Medical Department, had to be commissioned in the WAC and detailed in The Adjutant General's Department or other service, since the WAC was still not designated an arm or service for female admin-


istrators only, but remained a catch-all title for anything in skirts.39

The Question of Direct Commissions

In none of the foregoing cases were direct commissions offered to civilian women but only to qualified enlisted women. The decision to hold this line against direct commissions for civilian women was not easy, since the Director's office was still assaulted by undiminished numbers of would-be leaders. The number of letters on file from members of Congress and from prominent military and civilian figures, all seeking direct commissions for protégés, indicated that the character of WAC leadership would have been entirely altered had this bar fallen. Many wanted not only commissions but promises of choice assignments. For example, one senator asked Colonel Hobby's assistance in getting a direct commission for a young woman who, although without college education or responsible experience, was "much interested in obtaining a commission and especially desirous of being assigned to overseas duty." 40 In view of the fact that thousands of better qualified enlisted women were denied officer candidate training under current quotas, such applications received scant attention.

Only in four cases-one in Europe and three in the Southwest Pacific Area-did Colonel Hobby fail to maintain her policy on the direct commissioning of civilian women. Although unable to secure revocation of the four appointments, the Director did succeed in blocking the numerous other requests that immediately followed. At her request, and after much bad publicity, the War Department established the policy that women recommended in this way could be commissioned only through the usual channel of competitive selection by officer candidate boards and attendance at officer candidate school. No exceptions to this policy were permitted during the remainder of Colonel Hobby's tenure. 41

Promotion of Officers

Considerable interservice friction was habitually caused by the differing policies of the Air and Service Forces in officer promotion. No Wacs had, by the end of the Corps' first eighteen months, been made lieutenant colonels, although most staff directors had occupied position vacancies of this grade since their assignment. Recommendations had been received from the Second and Third Service Commands for promotion of their staff directors to this grade, but these had been refused by the Army Service Forces.

In November of 1943, a request was received from the Army Air Forces for the promotion of Major Bandel, with the notation that she had been in grade eight months, was responsible for recommendations pertaining to 21,000 Air Wacs, and, if an Army officer, would have been made at least a colonel under Air Corps promotion policies. This was refused by the


GENERAL MARSHALL confers with Capt. Florence T. Newsome in his office at the Pentagon.

GENERAL MARSHALL confers with Capt. Florence T. Newsome in his office at the Pentagon.

Army Service Forces without being sent to the Chief of Staff.

In the following week, General Marshall, in a personal conversation with the Director, informed her that, in his opinion, it was time to bridge the gap between her own rank and that of key WAC officers. Accordingly, the Director recommended to G-1 Division the promotion of the two WAC majors in her office who had replaced General Faith and Colonel Catron. She also informed the commanding generals of the Air, Ground, and Service Forces of the Chief of Staffs decision in the event that they wished to submit-or, in the case of the Air Forces, resubmit any promotion recommendations.42


The Air Forces promptly resubmitted its recommendation concerning Major Bandel. With the Director and Major Bandel both overseas, the Army Service Forces again recommended rejection and the War Department Personnel Board again rejected the AAF request without reference to the Chief of Staff.

The Air Forces immediately demanded an explanation of Acting Director Rice, who informed the Personnel Board that the action it had refused had been directed by "The Chief of Staff, United States Army." Further delay resulted when the Personnel Board refused to credit the Chief of Staffs approval, and sought to reach him for confirmation. Meanwhile, General Somervell sent General Marshall a memo saying, "I do not concur . . . ," and stating that no exceptions for Wacs should be made to the time in-grade requirements, which were waived only for men in Air Corps positions or in "meritorious cases." However, General Somervell called the Chief of Staffs office and withdrew his comment before it was shown to General Marshall. On the next day the Chief of Staff directed that until further notice the Personnel Board be lenient with time-in-grade requirements on promotions of certain cases submitted by the commanders concerned and approved by the Director WAC. Accordingly, Major Bandel was promoted at once, becoming the first WAC lieutenant colonel. On the following day General Marshall promoted to the same rank a Wac in his own office, Maj. Florence T Newsome, who, as Assistant Secretary to the General Staff, filled a position vacancy calling for that grade,

On her return in late January, Director Hobby followed these with the promotions of Maj. Jessie P. Rice, Deputy Director, and Maj. Mary-Agnes Brown; Executive. She also secured the recommendation of the Commanding General, Fourth Service Command, to the promotion of Maj. Elizabeth II. Strayhorn, senior WAC officer at Fort Oglethorpe. A short time later the Commanding General, Army Ground Forces, reversed his original decision and promoted the AGF WAC Officer, Maj. Emily E. Davis. These six promotions were followed shortly by one more, that of Maj. Westray B. Boyce of the North African theater, at which time the exceptions to time-in-grade were ended. Future WAC promotions to the grade of lieutenant colonel were, with two exceptions, to wait for the regular time-in-grade. These exceptions were for Maj. Katherine R. Goodwin upon her assignment as ASF WAC Officer, and Maj. Anna. W. Wilson in the European theater.43

Under the circumstances, although the grade of lieutenant colonel had been declared appropriate for staff directors since the establishment of the Corps, very few staff directors of subordinate field commands had attained it by the end of the war: two of the Army Service Forces' fourteen, three of the Air Forces' fifteen, neither of the Ground Forces' two, and three of the overseas theaters' six.44  As a result, at the end of three years of existence, and at its peak strength in the spring of 1941, the WAC was far from approaching the percentages of field grade officers to which its strength would have entitled it under a policy of direct commissions or equal ratios.45


   Actual Officer Strength May 1945    Entitled by Army Ratio
General officers    0    20
Colonels    1    129
Lieutenant colonels    16    336
Majors    146    331
Captains    1,021    2,32:1
First lieutenants    3,646    3,849
Second lieutenants    975    2,483
   5,808    9,973

The absence of top grades was of course due to legislative restrictions; the deficiencies in company grades, and in the two lower field grades, had been of more actual significance in troop administration.

Officer Education

Final tallies on WAC officers showed "unusually high intellectual caliber.46  The educational level of WAC officers slightly surpassed that of male officers.47

Educational Level    WAC Officers    Male Officers
Grammar school    .26    l.5
1, 2, 3 years high school     4.01    12.0
High school graduate     27.84    22.2
I. 2, 3 years college     26.98    26.2
College graduate    26.23    21.7
Postgraduate    14.68    16.4

Army observers considered the high educational level of WAC officers to be "even more remarkable in that they were not chosen as specialists, [while] the male officers included all the professional workers who came into the Army as specialists, such as physicians, engineers, lawyers, teachers, and chaplains." 48

Possibly even more surprising was the fact that, while the Army had a high percentage of success in finding officers who rose from the ranks to develop into acceptable WAC staff directors, the Navy reported less satisfaction with directly commissioned women serving in the comparable position of Women's Reserve Representative in naval districts. It noted the "unsatisfactory quality of the officers placed in these billets in some districts in the early haste of organization." 49

Warrant Officers

For some time there existed a question as to whether or not Wacs might be appointed warrant officers if they held posts such as band leader, which, for a man, carried the grade. The WAC legislation did not mention the matter, but the Judge Advocate General ruled that appointment of women was illegal because the law did not specify that it was legal. Within a few months the question was brought to the War Department's attention by the North African, European and China-Burma-India theaters, which wished to appoint to that grade women who were filling warrant officer jobs. At this time the judge Advocate General was overruled. G-1 Division held that such appointment was legal under the general authority to admit women to full Army status, and the Chief of Staff upheld this opinion. However, by the end of the war only 42 women had been reported in this grade.50


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