Original U.S. WWII Era Women’s Army Corps “WAC Jr” Children’s Class-A Uniform Set With Skirt and Shoes - Formerly Part of the A.A.F. Tank Museum
Original Item: Only One Available. The time honored tradition of “playing Army” dates back centuries. Children have always wanted to emulate those around them and if they’re from a military family they do so to honor them. It was no different during the WWII era. The war was in every household, on the radio and at the picture shows. There were countless recycling drives and award systems specifically for children and the War Effort, this was essentially a way of life and the children wanted to look the part while playing the part.
The uniform came to us from the American Armoured Foundation, Inc. Tank and Ordnance Memorial Museum. The AAF Tank Museum was a living memorial dedicated to the Tank and Cavalry soldiers of the world. Before 1981 some of the artifacts that make up the AAF Tank Museum was a private collection belonging to Mr. William Gasser. Mr. Gasser felt that his collection would be beneficial in educating present and future generations to the sacrifices made and the technologies gained during war. Therefore, in 1981 the AAF Tank Museum was established as a non-profit charitable organization, and Mr. Gasser's donated his private collection to the Tank Museum. Mr. Gasser is still active as Volunteer Director and Curator of the Tank Museum and his knowledge of military history has been a great asset to the museum. Unfortunately after 20 years of operation it had to close its doors, which is when this uniform was acquired.
The set includes the following:
- Class A Uniform Top: While the uniform top is in good condition, the patched insignia was never sewn onto the uniform and instead they are just held on with pins. We believe that this is the correct uniform for a Wac Jr but unfortunately the museum more than likely “dressed” the uniform up for display purposes.
- Skirt: In wonderful condition with minor staining present. The skirt still has an attached pair of braces (suspenders) attached at the top.
- Dress Shoes (“Dixie Boy”) by Witt’s Shoes: Good, solid condition with no extensive damage present.
A wonderful set ready for further research and display.
In May 1942 Congress approved the creation of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps. Although the ANC were actual service members of the U.S. Army, the members of the WAAC were not, so they wore Army style uniforms with distinctly different insignia than U.S. Army service members. In the summer of 1943 the WAAC was converted to the Women's Army Corps (WAC). From that point the WAC were U.S. Army service members and their insignia was changed to that of the regular army.
Female service dress went through an evolution of patterns over the course of the war years, however throughout the period the service uniforms both summer and winter generally consisted of the WAC pattern "Hobby" hat or women's garrison cap, a women's suit coat, shirtwaist, four-in-hand tie, skirt, russet leather women's service shoes and hand bag. The women's olive drab wool "Ike jacket" was also worn as were women's service trousers. The colors essentially mirrored those of their male counterparts of corresponding rank in the equivalent service uniform although fabrics differed. There were also special off-duty dresses of summer beige and winter tan.
After the WAC were established the ANC adopted the WAC officer's uniforms, except for the ANC pattern hat and the ANC pattern handbag. However, those items were changed to olive drab and russet leather respectively. The ANC off duty dress was a separate ANC pattern in olive drab shade 51 or beige. The previous ANC beige summer service uniform with maroon trim was retained except that the tie was changed to maroon.
Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC)
With war looming, U.S. Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduced a bill for the creation of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in May 1941. Having been a witness to the status of women in World War I, Rogers vowed that if American women served in support of the Army, they would do so with all the rights and benefits afforded to Soldiers.
Spurred on by the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Congress approved the creation of WAAC on May 14, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill into law on May 15, and on May 16, Oveta Culp Hobby was sworn in as the first director. WAAC was established "for the purpose of making available to the national defense the knowledge, skill, and special training of women of the nation."
Recruitment and Training
Hobby immediately began organizing the WAAC recruiting drive and training centers. Fort Des Moines, Iowa, was selected as the site of the first WAAC Training Center. Over 35,000 women from all over the country applied for less than 1,000 anticipated positions.
The first women arrived at the first WAAC Training Center at Fort Des Moines on July 20, 1942. Among them were 125 enlisted women and 440 officer candidates (40 of whom were black), who had been selected to attend the WAAC Officer Candidate School, or OCS. Their arrival and subsequent training brought considerable public interest surrounding civil rights, as this corps presented the biggest opportunity to test integration in the Army. After OCS, black officers and white officers were segregated.
After training, the WAAC officer or enlisted person was assigned to a 150-woman table of organization company, which only had spaces for clerks, typists, drivers, cooks and unit cadre. Women primarily worked in four fields: baking, clerical, driving and medical. Within one year of the WAAC establishment, over 400 jobs were open to women.
Since to the WAAC law did not women an integral part of the Army, they could not be governed by Army regulations or the Articles of War. Stateside, enlisted women and men received the same basic rate of pay. However, women could not receive overseas pay and were ineligible for government life insurance. If they were killed, their parents could not collect the death gratuity.
In the beginning, WAAC exceeded all its recruiting goals, but by June 1943, recruiting efforts had fallen. Higher paying jobs in civilian industry, unequal benefits with men, and attitudes within the Army itself - which had existed as an overwhelmingly male institution from the beginning - were factors.
Conversion to Army status, Women's Army Corps (WAC)
In January 1943, U.S. Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduced identical bills in both houses of Congress to permit the enlistment and commissioning of women in the Army of the United States, or Reserve forces, as opposed to regular enlistments in the U.S. Army. This would drop the "auxiliary" status of the WAAC and allow women to serve overseas and "free a man to fight."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the legislation on July 1, 1943, which changed the name of the Corps to the Women's Army Corps (WAC) and made it part of the Army of the United States. This gave women all of the rank, privileges, and benefits of their male counterparts.
Women were recruited from all 50 states and territories. A WAC recruiting campaign on the island of Puerto Rico resulted in 200 women being selected out of a pool of 1500. Entrance requirements were rigorous, with each woman required to pass an exam that was entirely in English. Those selected represented many professions: teachers, office workers, translators and even a lawyer.
Women's Army Corps also recruited Nisei women, or second-generation Japanese-American women. Several hundred were selected, and a number of these trained in linguistics at the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Other Nisei WACs received more traditional training in clerical, medical, and supply positions. Eventually, some Nisei WACs found themselves serving as translators and officer workers at Gen. Douglas MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo.
During World War II, members of WAC were assigned to the Army Air Forces, Army Ground Forces, and the Army Service Forces - comprised of nine service commands, the Military District of Washington and the Technical Services. At first, job opportunities were limited, but soon wide arrays of positions were available to women.
Army Air Forces (AAF)
Assigned as: weather forecasters and observers, electrical specialists, sheet metal workers, link trainer instructors, control tower specialists, airplane mechanics, photo-laboratory technicians and photo interpreters.
Army Ground Forces (AGF)
Assigned to Armor and Cavalry Schools and worked as radio mechanics, took care of records and requisitions involving radio equipment, repaired and installed radios in tanks, bantams and other vehicles - both in camps and in bivouac areas, and trained men in field artillery and code sending and receiving.
Army Service Forces (ASF)
The Signal Corps used women as telephone, radio and teletype operators, cryptographers, cryptanalysts, and photographic experts. The Technical Service, employed under the Transportation Corps, utilized assistance in processing troops and mail. Women served as medical and surgical technicians served within the medical department, and also conducted administrative services for Adjutant General's Corps, Chemical Warfare Service, Quartermaster Corps, finance department, provost marshal and Corps of Chaplains.
In 1944, as Allied forces took the initiative both in Europe and the Far East, WAC units moved into support areas behind the combat troops. January 1944 marked the arrival of the first WAC, in the Pacific theater of operations, at New Caledonia. In May 1944, the first contingent assigned to the Southwest Pacific arrived in Sydney, Australia. Landing crafts put WACs ashore on the Normandy beachhead during July 1944, while others began assuming duties in the China-Burma-India theater. The women of the Corps went where they were needed – to Oro Bay, Hollandia, Casablanca, Chunking, and Manila.
Victory in Europe, victory over Japan and the end of World War II
Victory in Europe was proclaimed when German Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl, of the German High Command, signed the terms of an unconditional surrender in Reims, France, May 7, 1945. Similarly, Victory in Japan was proclaimed on Sept. 2, 1945, to celebrate Japan's acceptance of unconditional surrender terms that occurred on Aug. 14, 1945.
After the war, WAACs had no legal re-employment rights, no peacetime component or even an inactive Reserve. Without these rights, jobs for women would be scarce in peacetime. For this reason, Hobby favored disbanding the WAC as soon as the war ended. Congress provided re-employment rights for WAACs and WACs on Aug. 9, 1946.
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