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Women’s Army Corps in Europe

The Eighth Air Force’s first WACs arrived in July 1943.  WACs sent overseas were carefully selected from those with high test scores and specialized skills.

The Eighth Air Force’s first WACs arrived in July 1943. WACs sent overseas were carefully selected from those with high test scores and specialized skills.

“The WAC has been of inestimable value...Its members have worked devotedly, often at arduous tasks requiring exceptional performance.”

            —General Carl Spaatz, US Strategic Air Forces commander


 

About half of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) personnel—or “WACs”—sent overseas served in Europe.  Most WACs stationed there performed essential administrative work, while others served in non-traditional roles including weather observers/forecasters, control tower operators, and mechanics.

            Although USAAF leadership eagerly supported the program, these trailblazing women faced hardships in breaking cultural boundaries.  The official US Strategic Air Forces (USSTAF) history noted “Perhaps the greatest achievement of the WACs was their triumph over the prejudices of the male military mind. The half-amused, half-scornful attitude of some officers in responsible positions was not justified by the performance of the WACs.”

At the end of the war, there were more than 8,000 WACs in Europe, with more than 33,000 serving in the USAAF in the US and overseas.

 

 


WACs in a mobile control unit truck in England plotting and guiding lost bombers back to base. 





Col Oveta Culp Hobby, WAC Director, meeting with Lt Gen James “Jimmy” Doolittle, Eighth Air Force commander, in 1944.  Col Hobby brilliantly led and grew the WAC (and its predecessor, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) from 1942-1945.






Eighth Air Force WAC switchboard operators.  About 40% of the Army’s WACs served in the USAAF, and they were known as “Air WACs.” 


Uniform worn by SSgt Theresa Kobuszewski, who served in England from May 1944 to November 1945.  After the war, she was a pitcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1946-1947.  In 1951, Kobuszewski re-enlisted in the US Air Force, and retired as a chief master sergeant in 1975.




 

Teresa Kobuszewski when she played for the Fort Wayne Daisies in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

(Image courtesy of The History Museum, South Bend, IN)


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Memphis Belle Crew

The “Memphis Belle” and Nose Art

26th Mission: War Bond Tour

Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress”

Heavy Bomber “Firsts”

Combat Aircraft to Museum Artifact

Crippling the Nazi War Machine: USAAF Strategic Bombing in Europe

Enabling Technologies

Key Leaders

Early Operations (1942 to mid-1943) - Eighth Air Force in England

Ninth/Twelfth Air Forces in the Mediterranean

Combat Box/Communication and Life at 25K

Keeping them Flying: Mechanics and Armorers

Combined Bomber Offensive: Summer 1943 to Victory

Bigger Raids, Bigger Losses, and Crisis

Deadly Skies over Europe (Luftwaffe defense)

Bomber Crew Protection

Operation Tidalwave (Ploesti, 1 Aug 43)

Regensburg/Schweinfurt (17 Aug 43)

Black Thursday/Schweinfurt (14 Oct 43)

Fifteenth Air Force (created Sep 43)

Gunners

Women’s Army Corps

Fighter Escort: Little Friends

Big Week (20-25 Feb 44)

Target Berlin

Operation Frantic: Shuttle Raids to the Soviet Union

Blind Bombing

D-Day Support

Strategic Bombing Victorious

Epilogue

 

 

Return to the B-17F Memphis Belle Fact Sheet

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