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Women Marines in World War I


This work was first published by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division. Long forgotten, SJP has reprinted it for a modern audience. The history of the first women to serve in the Marine Corps is a fascinating record of the dedication and drive of American women during World War I. The purpose of this monograph is to tell the story of the small band of women who answered the Corps’ call for volunteers in 1918 with patriotism and enthusiasm. Long the object of interest and curiosity by modern-day Marines, the women Marines of World War I now have a lasting and fitting memorial. By July 1918 the demands of the war hit an all-time high, the heavy fighting and mounting casualties abroad were increasing an already acute shortage of trained personnel and as fast as men could be spared, they were sent to join Marine units at the front in France. When it was discovered that there was a sizable number of battle-ready Marines still doing clerical work in the United States who were urgently needed overseas, the Corps turned in desperation to the female business world. Major General Commandant George Barnett, in an effort to determine how many men could be released, dispatched memorandums to the offices of the Quartermaster, Paymaster, and Adjutant and Inspector asking for an analysis by the directors of each as to the feasibility of using women as replacements for male troops. In every case it was agreed that there were areas in which women with clerical skills could be utilized on an immediate basis. Interestingly enough, although it was estimated that about 40 percent of the work at Headquarters could be performed equally well by women, it was believed that a larger number of women than men would be needed to do the same amount of work. The opinion expressed by experienced clerks was “that the ratio would be about three to two.” The highly competent performance of the women reservists throughout their participation in the war proved the error of this early opinion. In addition, the Major General Commandant was strongly advised that if women were to be enrolled “it would not be desirable to make the change suddenly but gradually” to allow sufficient time for each woman to be instructed by the clerks they would be relieving. On the basis of these conclusions and recommendations, General Barnett wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy on 2 August 1918requesting authority “to enroll women in the Marine Corps Reserve for clerical duty at Headquarters Marine Corps and at other Marine Corps offices in the United States where their services might be utilized to replace men who may he qualified for active field service.” In a letter dated 8 August 1918, Secretary Josephus Daniels gave his official approval to the request and authority was granted to enroll women as members. Book interior contains early type-written copy instead of a modern typeset.

86 pages

Categories: All Books, U.S. Marine Corps, Women, World War I


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