4-212 Memorandum for the Bureau of Public Relations, January 26, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 26, 1944

Subject: World War II, Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps/Women’s Army Corps

Memorandum for the Bureau of Public Relations

January 26, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


It seems to me that very poor use is made of the best publicity possibilities in the WAC organization. For example, I have heard comments in a number of places, notably in Florida, that the WAC’s were not given sufficiently important work to attract the best type of women and to hold the interest of the others. Considering the great contrast, favorable to the Army, between the assignments of WAC’s and those of WAVES, for example, we do not appear to have made the best of the picture.1

General Arnold has promoted recently a WAC to the grade of Lieutenant Colonel. She is the head representative of 20,000 women in the Air Forces; that is certainly a position of some importance.2

The first group of WAC officers sent to Africa were on a boat which was torpedoed and they made the shore with a loss of most of their clothing. Later these same girls were brought in as a special secretariat at Casablanca and while there were entertained at dinner by the President and the Prime Minister.3 It seems to me they hit a pretty high level here but so far as I know without comment, though it may have occurred while I was out of the country.

General Eisenhower’s driver has been a WAC throughout the entire African campaign and I presume she has gone with him to London. My driver in Africa was a WAC and a very efficient one.4

There came to my office shortly after the initiation of the WAC a Lieutenant F. T. Newsome. She was used to replace an officer in the outer office to meet people. Her work proved so valuable that she was gradually moved from job to job until now she is my personal secretary for all matters pertaining to the U.S. Chiefs of Staff and Combined Chiefs of Staff, briefing the papers, making contact with the interested parties who include General Arnold, General Somervell, and General Handy, and apprizing me of the pros and cons of all the various issues. That is certainly an important job. Furthermore, during certain periods on off hours she performs the duty of Acting Secretary, General Staff.5

I am sure that there are a number of somewhat similar cases, none of which I have seen featured. Who is handling this business?6

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. Reports of unfavorable publicity which portrayed the Women’s Army Corps in a less than dignified or professional manner concerned the chief of staff. In March 1944 Director Oveta Culp Hobby recommended formation of a specialist group, under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Public Relations, to coordinate publicity with recruiting. In April General Marshall directed that such a group be formed, even though Lieutenant General Brehon B. Somervell and Major General Alexander D. Surles objected. The Bureau of Public Relations was supplemented by twelve officer grades—six male and six female—to form the W.A.C. Group, headed by Colonel J. Noel Macy. Stories and photographs were to present the Women’s Army Corps as a success, showing the women performing jobs that were necessary to the war effort and that they were feminine and performing jobs much like those of civilian women. (Mattie E. Treadwell, The Women’s Army Corps, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1954], pp. 272-77, 699-705.)

The Women’s Army Corps had fewer limitations on the types of jobs to which women might be assigned than did the U.S. Navy’s W.A.V.E.S. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). War Department regulations allowed women assignments to “any suitable noncombatant overhead positions” or to a combat unit organization provided the job was noncombatant and in a “fixed administrative headquarters or installation.” Duties were to be within the strength of “the average woman,” and the working conditions and environment were to be suitable for women. Members of the W.A.V.E.S., however, were more limited in possible job assignments by a more formalized system in which the Bureau of Naval Personnel arbitrarily limited assignments to approved positions. (Ibid., pp. 543-44, 562.)

2. Lieutenant Colonel Betty Bandel, who had been Director Hobby’s first W.A.A.C. aide, was chosen in May 1943 to serve on General Henry H. Arnold’s staff as Air W.A.A.C. Officer. The position was comparable to Director Hobby’s in the Army Service Forces and was second only to Hobby. (Ibid., pp. 75, 132. Treadwell discusses Major Bandel’s promotion to become the first W.A.C. lieutenant colonel on pp. 574-76.) Bandel was also a member of the first graduating class of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Officer Candidate School at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, in August 1942.

3. The first five W.A.A.C. officers arrived in North Africa in December 1942. General Marshall met the women during the Casablanca Conference and obtained a list of lost equipment. “Finding that there was no legal means of free replacement,” historian Treadwell writes, “he personally paid for and forwarded new clothing, refusing to accept repayment.” (Ibid., pp. 360-61.)

4. Sergeant Pearlie Hargreaves was a chauffeur to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. His British civilian chauffeur and secretary, Kay Summersby, was to be commissioned a second lieutenant in the Women’s Army Corps in the fall of 1944. (Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, p. 133. Kay Summersby relates her story in Eisenhower Was My Boss [New York: Prentice-Hall, 1948].) In the fall of 1943 General Marshall had requested several members of the Women’s Army Corps to serve on his staff; among them was Sergeant Marjorie Payne, a chauffeur.

5. Lieutenant Colonel Florence T. Newsome had graduated among the first class of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Officer Candidate School at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, in August 1942. During an interview in 1956, General Marshall mentioned that he would have taken Florence Newsome to work during the international conferences “except [Admiral] King would have gone crazy if he had a woman on these things.” Marshall recalled that “she would bring us up to date on all these various things, particularly about the Combined Chiefs of Staff. She was very, very well informed and she handled all these records.” (Marshall Interviews, pp. 337-38.)

6. For more information regarding the Women’s Army Corps, see Marshall to Steinkraus, February 15, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-253 [4: 301-2], and Marshall Statement for Women’s Army Corps Recruiting Campaign, March 21, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-308 [4: 360-61].

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 246-248.

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