Texas Women in World
of Texas Press, 2003
253 pages, 90 photographs
Review by Linda Lipscomb:
NURSES, WACS, WAVES, and SPARS
Uniformed Women of
"The Greatest Generation"
War II newsreels documented one of most traditional roles that women played during
wartime, nursing wounded soldiers in remote make-shift hospitals. Though women's
participation in the military has grown significantly since then, many people
do not realize the extent to which women actually were involved during that war.|
Cindy Weigand of Georgetown, hopes her first book, Texas Women in World War
II will enlighten us with stories about women's contributions during WWII.
An award-winning author and amateur historian, Ms. Weigand has several published
works. Her most recent acclamation is The DALTON Pen, Award of Merit for her article
"Yankee Doodle Gals of World War II", published in Texas Co-op Power.
"Texas Women in
World War II" chronicles the experiences of 27 Texas women served in the Women's
Army Corps, Women's Air Force Service Pilots, Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron,
Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service, and Women's Reserve of the Coast
Guard. Many also worked as Army Nurses, Navy Nurses, and representatives of the
American Red Cross and Civil Air Patrol.
The book captures the veteran's memories of service, which often were
brushed aside after the war. Each story is supported with "then and now" photographs
that help establish a sense of individuality and continuity over time. Using individual
accounts of historical events, Ms. Weigand manages to pull these lives together
while documenting the separate accomplishments of each woman.
on the heels of World War I and having
grown up during the Great Depression, life hadn't been easy for these women, yet
they wanted to serve their country to preserve the ideals they held dear. Each
individual intended to pay her debt, even if it meant at the cost of her life,"
writes Ms. Weigand.
Women tell their stories of life as airplane mechanics
and pilots during the war. After planes had been repaired, they took them up for
"slow-time", flying straight and level and slow to make sure they were operating
correctly. Others ferried aircraft from closed bases, transported personnel to
different bases, or towed flag-like cloth targets for cadets to fire at so they
could practice aerial gunnery.
Navy and Army Nurses describe the carnage
they saw while working with wounded patients, caring for soldiers who lost legs,
were burned, or suffered brain damage. Rather then letting their patients know
they felt sorry for them, the nurses tried to ignore the illness and focus on
the person and do what they could to keep the soldier's minds off the war.
One Army Nurse reflected on the three years spent as a prisoner of war in
Santo Tomas, an internment camp in the Philippines. Others recalled having performed
surgeries by the light of Coleman lanterns as the Japanese bombed the camp.
Members of Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service recall ferrying
mail across the U.S. and sorting it to send overseas. Others remember the concessions
made allowing them to even be in the Navy in the first place. One Marine who served
as an electrician expressed the difficulties many encountered during boot camp
because the country was in the middle of war and there wasn't time to learn more
than the basics.
As the women recall specific dates and times during
the war, many of their lives seem intertwined. In particular, women who worked
with the Woman's Army Corps were brought together through their work with one
woman, Oveta Culp Hobby, director of the Woman's Army Auxiliary Corps. Born in
Killeen, Ms. Hobby became the wife of Texas governor William Hobby, but she was
destined to become a leader on her own by virtue of her accomplishments.
"Texas Women in World War II" includes joyful stories, but there are just
as many stories of horrific events. Many women remember precisely where they were
and what they were doing on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor,
on April 12, 1945 when President Roosevelt died, and on September 2, 1945 when
the Japanese signed the surrender agreement.
Ms. Weigand's book concludes
with a brief timeline of World
War II in Europe and a chronology of events at the Philippine Islands and
the Santo Tomas internment camp.
Anyone interested in war history will
be impressed with the coverage given to this important period seen through the
eyes of those who haven't, until now, spoken much about a different side of war.
This book is highly recommended to young readers interested in learning more about
the jobs women held during war years. For information about book signings and
other engagements, visit the author's web site at www.cindy weigand.com.
Lipscomb is a children's book author and freelance writer residing in Georgetown.
March 8, 2004
We're proud to present this review written by author
Linda Lipscomb of Georgetown. We thank both Ms. Weigand and Ms. Lipscomb for making
this possible. - Editor
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