WELCOME TO OUR MILITARY HERO BLOG TOUR
August 9 – 16
We Band of Angels
by Lise Horton
Too many of the histories of the war pay scant attention to the valor of the women who fought this war on a number of fronts - all with a patriotic fervor equal to their male counterparts.
WASPS. OSS. WACS. WAVES. Journalists and photographers. Scientists. Nurses. These women took on new jobs. Dangerous jobs. Deadly jobs. Yet the histories of the cataclysm mention women in passing, mostly as pinup girls or prostitutes. While Women Airforce Service Pilots were recruited by Jacqueline Cochran and Nancy Love to ferry planes from factories to where they were needed, they were soon put into service as pilots towing targets for anti-aircraft gunner training. And after proving their flight prowess, were used as test pilots on new aircraft. Sometimes aircraft the male pilots refused to fly due to difficulty or danger. The women climbed in, took off, and made the point. Many of them died in the course of this job, but were denied any military status, or pension, when they were unceremoniously sent packing.
In the Office of Strategic Services, precursor to today’s CIA, most women filled administrative roles. But a number were trained and put into the field as covert agents. Like Virginia Hall, who despite an artificial leg, trained and parachuted into France. She trained 3 battalions of French resistance forces and was forced to flee the Nazis by walking over the mountains into Spain.
From spies to radio operators to saboteurs these women performed with exemplary bravery and fortitude (acknowledged even by the enemy). On the backs of legends, a new wave of female reporters and photographers clamored for, and received, permission to take their places next to the men in WWII. Women like Martha Gellhorn, who finagled her way to cover D-Day (she was a stowaway). Of the 1600 accredited journalists, wearing the “C” to identify them as war correspondents, were 127 women. Photojournalists like Dicky Chappelle, who covered wars until her death in Vietnam, Lee Miller, former fashion model, and Margaret Bourke-White, who covered the German invasion of Russia.
Among service women (WACS, WAVES, SPARS and Marine Corps Women’s Reserves) were a group who became the subject of Elizabeth Norman’s WE BAND OF ANGELS. The Army and Navy Nurse Corps dealt with the same diseases, danger and deprivation as soldiers did. The risks were made all too clear in the early days of the war when the US surrendered Corregidor, following the loss of Bataan. The majority of nurses were evacuated, but not all. Many remained behind to care for the wounded that couldn’t be evacuated. When the Japanese invaded, the nurses were taken prisoner and sent to horrific prison camps, like Santo Tomas, where they remained until the Americans regained control of the Philippines in 1945.
Despite starvation, disease and torture, they kept serving the sick and injured throughout their captivity. Female scientists participated in the Manhattan Project, at Los Alamos where the Trinity “gadget” was devised, and tested on July 16, 1945, and at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, working to produce the fissionable material used for the bombs. Danger was their daily companion as well, since some among other dangers, scientists feared an atomic blast would ignite the Earth’s atmosphere and incinerate the planet.
Besides Rosies who kept the war machine running, the USO entertainers who fought to keep morale up, the women who danced at USO clubs or manned firetrucks, mothers who gathered tin and gave up their stockings, to the women of NYC who manned air raid towers, women proved their patriotism in a pivotal moment in our history.
Let’s hear a big hoo-ya for the ladies!♥
Lise Horton writes edgy, kinky heroes who love masochistic heroines beneath their hands. Of her short story under her pseudonym, Lydia Hill, “My Master’s Mark” [Cleis Press’ May 2014 Slave Girls: Erotic Stories of Submission], Library Journal’s starred review said “surprisingly poignant”. Visit www.lisehorton.com and for free, naughty reads stop by her Lust In the Afternoon blog, http://blackrosediaries.blogspot.com.