From The Needle's Eye – October 1942
These young ladies are modeling three of the different types of uniforms being worn by the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). The WAAC was created as an auxiliary unit of the Women's Army Corps (WAC) a branch of the United States Army in May 1942. The WAC and WAAC were disbanded in 1978, and all units were integrated with male units.
The WAAC was modeled after comparable British units.
The women were fitted for uniforms, interviewed, and assigned to companies and barracks.
The WAAC was first trained in three major specialties. The brightest and nimblest were trained as switchboard operators. Next came the mechanics, who had to have a high degree of mechanical aptitude and problem-solving ability. The bakers were usually the lowest scoring recruits. This was later expanded to dozens of specialties like Postal Clerk, Driver, Stenographer, and Clerk-Typist. WAC armorers maintained and repaired small arms and heavy weapons that they were not allowed to use.
Inept publicity and the poor appearance of the WAAC/WAC uniform, especially in comparison to that of the other services, handicapped recruiting efforts. A resistance by senior Army commanders was overcome by the efficient service of WAACs in the field, but the attitude of men in the rank and file remained generally negative, and hopes that up to a million men could be replaced by women never materialized. The United States Army Air Forces became an early and staunch supporter of regular military status for women in the army.
About 150,000 American women eventually served in the WAAC and WAC during World War II. While the conservative opinion in the leadership of the Army was initially opposed to women serving in uniform, as was public opinion, the shortage of men necessitated a new policy.
While most women served stateside, some went to various places around the world, including Europe, North Africa, and New Guinea. For example, WACs landed on Normandy Beach just a few weeks after the initial invasion.