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3-134 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, March 18, 1942

1942
   
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 18, 1942

Subject: World War II


Memorandum for the Secretary of War

March 18, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]

Confidential

Subject: Chief of Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

Since the House has passed the above measure by a large majority, we anticipate its quick enactment by Senate. It is, therefore, important that the preliminary arrangements for the organization of the Corps be set up in order to handle the inevitable avalanche of applications and suggestions, along with strong pressures to influence the appointment of candidates for the head of the Corps. I urge that you endeavor to obtain an early decision of the President in this matter, and I strongly recommend Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby to head the organization.1

I personally withdrew Mrs. Hobby from the Bureau of Public Relations and attached her to the Personnel Section of the General Staff for the purpose of handling this legislation. I had never seen, or even heard of Mrs. Hobby prior to this time, and she had no prior knowledge of the bill. Mrs. Hobby attended to the necessary adjustments with the Office of Civilian Defense, she represented the War Department with the Bureau of the Budget, and she was, by my direction, a leading witness before the House Military Committee considering the legislation. In all of these duties she displayed sound judgment and carried out her mission in a manner to be expected of a highly trained staff officer. She has won the complete confidence of the members of the War Department Staff with whom she has come into contact, and she made a most favorable impression before the Committee of Congress.

Mrs. Hobby, under the direction of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, has been working on the preliminary details of recruiting, of training necessities, and the administrative set-up for the Corps. She was sent to Canada to familiarize herself with the Canadian procedure in this matter, which is supposed to be an improvement on that of the British WAAC organization. She is now well grounded in the basic necessities for the development of the organization, is familiar with War Department procedure, and I do not know of any other individual at the moment who could take over the job without a serious loss of time and possibly a confusion of effort.

This corps can be of great assistance to our military effort and it can easily be a great embarrassment to the War Department. I, therefore, urge the appointment of Mrs. Hobby, with the request that the decision be made in advance of the completion of the legislation in order that the War Department can anticipate the burdens of organization so far as is possible.

Mrs. Hobby is the wife of William Pettus Hobby, ex-Governor of Texas. She has had a successful newspaper experience and is Executive Vice President of the Houston Post. For a time she was the Parliamentarian of the Texas assembly.2

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. While embroiled in a tough congressional battle over passage of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps bill, the War Department distributed planning responsibility for the W.A.A.C. among its various staff agencies. Planners asked corps areas and branches where women could best be utilized. Without a definite mission, the W.A.A.C. received mixed reactions. Corps areas eagerly requested women under the false assumptions that they would handle menial duties and would not count against personnel allotments, while the branch chiefs wanted no W.A.A.C. units. The War Department refused to force women on any unit because requisitions already outnumbered projected corps strength. To direct this new corps, G-1 demanded that a healthy, active woman between the ages of thirty and fifty years, with executive experience, and with no affiliation with any special interest group be appointed. Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers and G-1 recommended Oveta Culp Hobby, chief of the Women’s Interest Section of the Bureau of Public Relations. Copublisher of the Houston Post, Hobby, at age thirty-seven, already possessed experience in business and government. (Mattie E. Treadwell, The Women’s Army Corps, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1954], pp. 25-30.)

2. Stimson approved the recommendation and sent it to the president that same day. (Stimson to Roosevelt, March 18, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Hobby took the oath of office as director of the W.A.A.C. on May 16, 1942.

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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 135-137.

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