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Old 03-08-2019, 09:52 AM
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Thumbs up Brutal boxing matches, firing machine guns and loading planes with bombs: Incredible

Brutal boxing matches, firing machine guns and loading planes with bombs: Incredible photos reveal how Women Marines were thrown into the thick of it in WWII

- Over 20,000 women put themselves forward for the Marine Corps Women's Reserve during World War II

- They took up roles including as aviation mechanics, engineers, radio operators and parachute riggers

- The fascinating gallery is part of historian Jim Moran's latest book - U.S. Marine Corps: Women's Reserve

They were treated by some with skepticism and derision when they were recruited into the US Marine corps in World War II.

An incredulous media asked what nickname should be used to describe these oddities - women who had joined the 100-year-old male bastion.

The thundering answer from Major General Holcomb was clear: 'They are Marines!'

He said they had passed a tough basic training, had 'inherited the traditions of Marines' and 'they don't have a nickname and they don't need one.'

Now a historian has unearthed incredible photos of the Women Marines performing many tasks that would make their male counterparts blanch.

They show female Marines brawling in a makeshift boxing ring aboard a boat, mending planes, firing machines guns, loading bombs and the very first group of women to answer the call to arms in 1943.

The women's branch was brought in by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942 so that men at the shore stations could be released to front-line combat.

Personal Note & Comment: Recommend all you women to go to this site to see several photo's too many to link on this thread. I'm sure you will be surprised - I was! Good work Gal's and thanks for your service: Boats

The selection process was rigorous but at first male members of the Marines subjected the women to foul language and harassment, referring to them as the BAMS ('Broad A**ed Marines).

However, in time most of those who had been critical would be the ones standing up for the women.

They soon distinguished themselves at the operational bases and on the first anniversary of their creation, Roosevelt sent a wire which said: 'You have quickly and efficiently taken over scores of different kinds of duties that not long ago were considered strictly masculine assignments, and in doing so, you have freed a large number of well trained, battle ready men of the corps for action.'

There value was soon greatly appreciated by the men who eventually became extremely protective of the new recruits, taking great care in their training of the women.

Private First Class Edith Macias recalled: 'The men did not look down or frown upon us, actually they were glad to have us. We were given a job to do and we did it. We were definitely not considered decorative rather than practical, but were treated as professionals.'

However, she described the male drill instructors - who were for the most part opposed to the women - as being as ruthless towards them as they were to the men.

Pvt. Macias said: 'The male drill instructors were indignant to have been selected to teach drill to women. As a result they showed us no mercy and taught us the same way as they did male recruits.'

More than 20,000 women put themselves forward for the Marine Corps Women's Reserve - quickly mobilizing to perform at least 200 military assignments.

Crucially, every woman that signed up released a male Marine to fight, and the presence of women in the ranks ultimately meant the Corps could deploy an entirely new division to the front.

By June 1944, female reservists made up 85 per cent of enlisted personnel on duty at Headquarters Marine Corps and almost two-thirds of the personnel manning all major posts and stations in the United States and Hawaii.

Their duties including filling positions as parachute riggers, mechanics, radio operators, mapmakers, aviation mechanics and welders.

But when they were not working hard the women enjoyed relaxing and many were seen as prize catches for the men on base.

Corporal Louise Hedtler said: 'Any fellow was proud to take out a female Marine Reserve.'

Seargean Ingrid Johnssen said that on one occasion she slightly overbook her diary with more than seven potential suitors queuing to take her out.

'Although unpopular at first, by 1945 Women Marines had "released a man to fight" in sufficient numbers to allow the Marine Corps to field the 6th Marine Division, made up primarily of veteran Marines, in time for the invasion of Okinawa on 1 April 1945,' explained Moran.

The bloody but ultimately successful battle at Okinawa put US forces within touching distance of mainland Japan and proved to be one of the last great conflicts of the war.

Just days later, devastating American nuclear strikes on Nagasaki and Hiroshima marked the end of the war.

After the war the women were provided the full benefits that were legislated for their male counterparts - which included the coveted burial at Arlington National Cemetery, insurance packages, compensation and a bonus of $60 on their discharge.

Some of the women chose to stay on in government service after the war, like Jane Van Edsinga Blakeriey who would become head of the Decorations and Medals Branch at Marine headquarters.

It is 101 years since the very first woman to join the Marine Corps Reserve enlisted on 13 August 1918, just a few months before the end of the First World War.

Hundreds of female Marines, referred to as 'Marinettes', relieved male Marines from clerical billets at Headquarters Marine Corps, enabling them to fight in France.

The female WWI Marines performed their tasks with immense skill and patriotism in a country which had not yet allowed them the right to vote. But they were still considered a novelty and every single one was discharged after the 'war to end all wars' was completed.

In fact, it was not until after World War II, in 1948, that the women were given permanent status in the Marines under the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948.

But women still only make up around 8 per cent of all active enlisted Marines, and 7.5 per cent of active Officers - making the Marine Corps the branch of the U.S military with the lowest ratio of women.

The huge significance of the role played by women in the success of the US troops' is noted by former US Marine Nancy Wilt who writes the foreword to Moran's book.

'An unknown Marine in World War II was quoted as describing the women of the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve (USMCWR) as "the smallest sorority in the biggest fraternity in the world",' she explained.

'That small sorority of 1940s women who volunteered, earned the title Marine and then worked in over 225 occupational fields, filling positions that allowed the critically needed manpower, planes and equipment to reach the battlefields of the Pacific.

'The women had their illustrious Eagle, Globe and Anchor and wore the distinctive Forest Green of the US Marines - they were Marines.

'The high standards and respect of the American public toward the United States Marine Corps as being the 'best of the best' soon extended to include the women who now hold the title of United States Marine, thanks to these pioneering women.'

Personal note: I want to thank all you Gal's that served as I'm sure the majority of all Service Men do as well. GOOD JOB!!


O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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