Women in World War II
Women served an important role in WWII. They not only took the challenge and stepped up to take the places of the men off fighting in the war to work in factories, but they also fought side by side with those risking their lives and fighting for their country. They were needed everywhere during the war.
There were an unbelievable amount of job opportunities for women during the war and many supported the brave acts of voluntary enlistment. “‘A woman’s place is in the home’ was an old adage, but it still held true at the start of World War II.
Even though millions of women worked, home and family we considered the focus of their lives” says Brenda Ralf Lewis. Without the help of those women who were brave enough to step, the war may have not ended as successfully as is did. Women’s jobs were very important in WWII. Women participated a great deal on the home front war effort. While the men in their lives were off fighting in the war, women were working in factories fulfilling the men’s jobs producing ammunition, tanks, and other weapons urgently needed during the war. According to Buzzle. com, “Women took over places initially meant for men and excelled in the same as well. If women weren’t in factories they were at home providing for their families.
Supplies were rationed because of the shortages caused by lack of trade from other countries that were at war as well, such as Japan and Southeast Asia. Families were given booklets for each member which determining the amount received. Utilities such as toaster and waffle irons; flashlights and batteries; tea; toys and games; vacuum cleaners and vending machines were no longer manufactured because the materials were more of a priority for scrap metal to build the necessities for war. Use it up/ Wear it out/ Make it do/ or do without” became a well-known saying around the United States during the war according to Dot Chastney. During the war women were expected to step up in the places of the men. Some were brave enough to go out into the field while others didn’t have much of a choice but to work in factories in order to stay closer to home with their families. The war had an impact not only on the fighters and workers, but on the children as well. They were deprived of the education they deserved because funding started to go to the war efforts.
Having to deal with the war caused people all around to make decisions that were best for everyone around rather than a specific group of people. One good thing that came out of the war was the extraordinary opportunities offered to women. Not only did it show that women can work as well as men did in those working conditions, it widened women’s work options, and let them contribute what they had to offer to the war. While men were at war, jobs were needed to be filled. War was heating up and according to Brenda Ralf Lewis. It was not entirely unexpected and anticipating the event was different from experiencing it first hand, which caused upheaval as m millions geared up to cope with its demands. ” Jobs were a huge demand at this point and who else to fill the jobs? That’s right. The countries very own women. Women were granted with extraordinary opportunities. “Women learned new skills as they replaced men in war work, using expertise and physical strength many never knew they possessed. This did not always go down well with men still working in the wartime factories”, acknowledges Brenda Ralf Lewis.
Being able to work in factories, women learned techniques they never knew they had and if it hadn’t been for the war, they probably never would have ever experienced it. Opportunities for women consisted of Army nurses, Navy nurses, Women Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), women Marines, the Coast Guard preserve, jet pilots, and so many other amazing opportunities. There were not only needed for fighting on the front, but for factory jobs as well.
Women quickly learned to work with the machines and build the necessary weapons that were in high demand during the war. Rosie the Riveter was a metaphoric figure used to represent the strength, dirty jobs, and work women provided for the war effort. Penny Colman states “Rosie the Riveter was supposedly based on Rose Bonavita, a riveter in the United States. ” During the war more than six million women joined the workforce. In August of 1943 Newsweek Magazine reported: “They [women] are in the shipyards, lumber mills, steel mills, foundries. They are welders, electricians, mechanics, and even boiler makers.
They operate street cars, buses, cranes, and tractors. Women engineers are working in the drafting rooms and women physicists and chemists in the great industrial laboratories. ” Ever since then women proved that they can work in a man’s workplace and do just as well. Any job that was a man’s, was a women’s as well. Women were soon “the most needed workers of all” according to Brenda Ralf Lewis. Factory workers became known as “the soldiers without guns”. If women hadn’t stepped up to the line, winning the war wouldn’t have been as easy as it was for us.
Not only did the women in factories and shipyards have a big part in doing their part in the war contributions, but so did the women who were out on the field fighting alongside with their men risking their very life. Women working and fighting on the line of protection had the toughest jobs. “Those working on the front line lived in constant danger as they worked to preserve life while everything happening around them was designed to destroy it” says Brenda Ralf Lewis. In the beginning women were discriminated and were doubted when doing the jobs on the front line. Thousands of women joined the women’s uniformed services in World War II. There was, inevitably, resistance to the idea of women in uniform, but their contribution was vital” reports Brenda Ralf Lewis. Not long after joining the armed forces they were able to prove the doubters otherwise. The Allied armed services drew thousands of women into military life, from all over the world. The United States and Britain accounted for most employing women in all three armed forces and, in the case of the United States, in the Coast Guard and Marines as well.
There were many different military branches women were able to join at that time. Some included Women’s Arm Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), Women’s Army Corps (WAC); Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) was incorporated with the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) as well. Other countries such as Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Burma, France, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and the Soviet Union all offered forces dedicated to women and the services they offered. Many questioned the fact if women should be allowed to serve at all.
Women in the military had image problems. They were seen as femme’s fatales; their role was trivialized or they were dubbed ‘unfeminine’ for deserting their proper place, home. Not only did they prove them wrong by going out into the field and fighting on the front, but they also put their feminine qualities to work. Women became great undercover spies. According to Simone Payment, “Spies have been used in times of war and peace since the beginning of civilization and women have long been involved in these espionage pursuits.
In the United States, female spies participate in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. But it wasn’t until World War II that they became an official-and incredibly important-part of the war effort. Many female spies made a difference in World War II, often at a great personal cost”. Many never questioned the thought of a dainty and delicate woman to be able to posses such power. Women were able to go undercover easily by just being themselves and going along with their daily lives. Women took the risks of being captured and tortured if they were ever discovered.
Some women that contributed their lives to the ware are: Tatiana Nikolaevna Baramzina who was born on December 12, 1919 in Glazov and was also the recipient of the Gold Star Award. In 1943, Tatiana was sent to the Central Women’s Sniper Training School and upon her graduation in April, she was later sent to the 3rd Belorussian Front. She managed to kill around 16 enemies in the first three months itself. Unfortunately, she was captured by the enemies and tortured before she was shot point blank. Tatiana Nikolaevna Baramzina passed away on July 5, 1944.
Today, the street where she grew up has been re-named in her memory. Another woman that dedicated her life to the war was named Hannah Szenes who was born on 17th July, 1921 and was trained to parachute by the British army into Yugoslavia during World War II. This task was given in order to save the Jews of Hungary. Her secret mission was not revealed even when she was tortured following her arrest at the Hungarian border. Hannah Szenes had to brave immense tortures, yet she did not lose heart. She bravely battled it out and tried to sing to keep her spirits high.
She also kept a record of events in her diary till November 7, 1944, when she was finally executed by a firing squad. During the war, the efforts of many women had gone by unnoticed. Overall women had and enormous impact on the war with their contributions and dedication to help provide, step up and win the war. Without the help of the women, we might have never won. Every woman had an important role and they did it with great honor. To this day, women are in all different branches of the military.