women in ww2

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Military nurses were very much involved in the turmoil at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 141, working under tremendous pressure during the aftermath of the mornings raids. The Japanese attack left ,5 servicemen and 68 civilians dead. Eighty-two Army nurses were serving at three Army Medical Facilities in Hawaii that infamous December morning. Hundreds of casualties suffering from burns and shock were treated by Army and Navy nurses working side-by-side with civilian nurses and doctors. Nurses at Schofield Hospital and Hickam Field faced similar overwhelming numbers of wounded personnel. The Chief Nurse at Hickam Field, 1st Lt. Annie G. Fox, was the first of many Army nurses to receive a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and twenty three years after the idea of women in the military was born, the Bureau of the Budget stopped objecting, planners began to plan and cooperation suddenly became the watchword. The bill was amended, reintroduced, stuck in committees, and stalled. The search was on for a director, a training center and the appropriate equipment. The military men in charge of logistics searched for ideas for no regulations existed. Finally on May 14th 14 the bill to Establish a Womens Army Auxiliary Corps became law and Oveta Culp Hobby, wife of the former governor of Texas, was named director.

Women continued to serve overseas through 145 and at one point there were over 000 WACs serving in North Africa alone. From there women were sent to Italy to serve with the 5th Army and these women moved all over Italy during the Italian campaign handling the communications; they earned commendations, bronze stars and the respect of their fellow soldiers as they sloughed through mud, lived in tents, dived into foxholes and dugouts during the Anzio air raids. During the battle on Anzio, six Army Nurses were killed by the German bombing and strafing of the tented hospital area. Four Army Nurses among the survivors were awarded Silver Stars for extraordinary courage under fire. In all, more than 00 Army Nurses lost their lives during World War II.

A Japanese suicide plane bombed the hospital ship USS Comfort off Leyte Island. In the attack 6 nurses, 5 medical officers, 8 enlisted men, and 7 patients were killed, and 4 nurses were wounded

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Often ignored by history is the story of the women prisoners of war taken captive during World War Two. Sixty seven Army nurses and sixteen Navy nurses spent three years as prisoners of the Japanese. Many were captured when Corregidor fell in 14 and were subsequently transported to the Santo Tomas Internment camp in Manila, in the Philippines. Santo Tomas was not liberated until February of 145. Five Navy nurses were captured on Guam and interned in a military prison in Japan.

Here is a rare WWII poster featuring the Nurses on Corregidor in a Japanese POW camp. One seriously doubts that they would be in whites with red and blue capes while prisoners but the point was being made to appeal to defense workers.

Two days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, 5 Navy nurses on Guam were taken prisoner by the Japanese. Lieutenants (jg) Leona Jackson, Lorraine Christiansen, Virginia Fogerty and Doris Yetter, under the command of Chief Nurse Marion Olds. Later in 14 their captors transported them to Japan. They were held for three months in Zentsuji Prison on Shikoku Island and were then moved to Eastern Lodge in Kobe. They were repatriated in August of 14. Nurses received 1,61 medals, citations, and commendations during the war, reflecting the courage and dedication of all who served. Sixteen medals were awarded posthumously to nurses who died as a result of enemy fire. Thirteen flight nurses died in aircraft crashes while on duty.

Sixteen women received the Purple Heart , awarded to soldiers injured due to enemy action. The Bronze Star was awarded to 565 women for meritorious service overseas. Over 700 WACs received medals and citations at the end of the war.

Countless women served in all branches of the service stateside and relieved or replaced men for combat duty overseas. Women performed admirably in every conceivable job imaginable including the dedicated WASPS who flew military aircraft to destination bases, suffered casualties, and yet were denied full miltary status.

However, with demobilization thoughts of women as an integral part of the miltary were not on the minds of the powers that be... even though four hundred thousand women gave a part of their life to their country... suffering not only the hardships of war but the cutting edge of public opinion.

Women spies

Women pilots

History tells us that the first licensed woman pilot in the United States was Harriet Quimby in 111. History forgets to tell us that Katherine Wright, sister of the Wright brothers, had as much to do with the first flight at Kittyhawk as did her brothers. Women flew airplanes before they could vote - but not in the U.S. military!

During WWI Princess Eugenie Shakhovskaya and Princess Sophie Alexandrovna Dolgorunaya were among the first women to become military pilots in Europe and though American women pilots volunteered, none were taken seriously. We all know the story of the gallant WASP pilots - women who flew every airplane made during WWII - including an experimental jet at 50 mph at 5,000 feet, (flown by Ann Baumgartner in 144) - yet were not considered military pilots until decades later.

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