in World War II
by Cindy Weigand
Republic of Texas Press, 2003
253 pages, 90 photographs
A Review by Linda Lipscomb:
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
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.
"Born 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.
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
Lipscomb is a children's book author and freelance writer residing
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