March is Women’s History Month, and seldom in history have women played as critical a role as they did during Wold War Two. The following pictorial highlights just a few of the many ways that American women contributed to Allied Victory.
During World War Two, women served in the American military in large numbers for the first time. They served as WACs, WAVEs, WASPs, SPARs, and as women marines.
During WW2, the American government called upon women to step into the many jobs and roles that were vacated by men sent to fight overseas. These jobs included factory worker, bus driver, typist (many office workers were men in those days) elevator operator, and even baseball player! Probably the most critical jobs were the millions of factory jobs producing planes, jeeps, tanks ships, ammunition, and other critical supplies for the military.
Willow Run Bomber Plant workers Jane Wanley and Martha Rohder form a riveter/bucker pair as they work on parts for the B-24 Liberator bomber. Women excelled at their new production jobs at Willow Run, and were often promoted to inspector status.
Even the women of Hollywood got into the act. Actress Hedy Lamarr asked to join the National Inventor’s Council to help the war effort, but was told she could be of more assistance promoting the sale of War Bonds to finance the war. Hedy traveled the country headlining War Bonds rallies, and sold $7 million worth of Bonds in one day alone.
Henry Kaiser’s shipyards on the west coast, and the many shipyards of the east coast, were home to Rosie the Riveter’s sister-in-arms-production, “Wendy the Welder.” These female shipyard workers proved that women could do a tough, dirty, and dangerous job as well as any man.
World War Two saw the formation of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. These women ferried aircraft from factories to fitting hangars to army bases, among other duties, to free male pilots for combat.
Many civilian women became became air raid wardens with the program initiated by the US Department of Civil Defense. Populous cities deemed likely enemy targets had block captains who were responsible for keeping an “eye on the sky” and helping their neighbors prepare for an emergency situation.
Women proved their mettle in the tough jobs that male soldiers left behind. These two shipyard workers were the first women to attain the rating of Electric Welder, 3rd Class. They worked in the US Navy yard, mare Island, CA.
Although women were not allowed to serve in combat roles during WW2, Army and Navy nurses were often directly in harm’s way, serving at or near the front lines. Many were killed in action or became prisoners of war.
American actress and dancer Josephine Baker was living in Paris when World War Two started. Since she was so popular, she was allowed by the Nazis to continue performing after they took the city. No fan of the Nazis, Josephine smuggled messages and documents for the French Resistance in her sheet music.
We hope you enjoyed this pictorial highlighting the role of women in World War Two!
Please help us keep these memories alive by turning Rosie the Riveter’s famous Willow Run Bomber Plant into the future NEW home of the Yankee Air Museum… click here to donate.