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Women's Reserve, Filling 18% of All Shore Billets, Has Freed 50,500 Men for Sea and Overseas Duty


"WELL done!" came the word from Fleet Admiral King, the Navy and the nation - as the Waves marked their third anniversary 30 July. In three war years, the "women in blue" had demonstrated their skill, courage, and devotion to victory, all the way from the Atlantic Coast to Pearl Harbor.

No surer proof of success could be needed than the fact that the Navy stepped up its demand for Waves 400% this summer, asking for 2,000 recruits a month.

On its third birthday, the Women's Reserve numbered 86,000: 8,000 officers and 70,000 enlisted Waves on duty in 900 shore activities, plus another 8,000 in training or awaiting call to duty.

50,500 Men Released

In a public birthday message to the Waves, Secretary Forrestal pointed out that "Today, the Waves have released enough men for duty afloat to man completely a major naval task force."

Women in the Navy have released 50,500 men for ship or overseas duty; have taken on 27,000 additional jobs; and now make up 18% of all naval personnel on shore duty, performing almost every type of shore job.

Flying Waves

Recently 80 Wave officers became the first women officers entitled to serve as members of military air crews in any U. S. military organization. They wear the gold wings of the naval air navigator, and will serve in crews flying to such points as Hawaii and the Aleutians.

All told, naval aviation uses almost a third of all the women in the Navy. Many women repair planes, pack parachutes and collect weather information. At least four control towers in the United State are manned entirely by Waves, under supervision of a male control tower officer, and at the Vero Beach, Fla., Naval Air Station, Waves help with traffic control in night fighter training.

One thousand Waves are Link trainer instructors, giving lessons to 4,000 men each day. Women of the Navy are teaching air gunnery students who some day will be shooting Jap planes out of the sky.

Waves serve in almost every department of the Naval Air Transport Service, and since last July have flown on almost all the NATS domestic routes in this country as flight orderlies.

Caring for Wounded

A vital Wave activity - getting increased emphasis at this time - is caring for the sick and wounded in hospitals. About half of the 2,000 new recruits coming into the Reserve each month are selected for Hospital Corps Work, in the Navy's wards, clinics, laboratories and dispensaries.

At present 13,000 Waves are carrying out responsible roles in the Hospital Corps. For example, in BuSandA's field branch at Cleveland, two Pharmacist's mates run the first all-Wave dental prosthetic laboratory in naval history. Nine Waves in the Hospital Corps work at the painstaking job of painting the iris in plastic eyes, carefully matching the patient's existing eye. Other Waves instruct the physically handicapped and give occupational and physical therapy.

The officers' corps of the Waves has contributed 390 medical specialists such as laboratory technicians, dental hygienists, and occupational and physical therapists. Forty-one Wave officers are doctors in the Medical Corps, and two are dentists in the Dental Corps.

Jobs Have Grown

As the Navy has grown the jobs for Waves have grown. Mail service for the fleet and extra-continental activities is now handled 80% by Waves. "Radio Washington," nerve center of the wide-flung Navy communication system, is manned 75% by Waves. At BuPers, 70% of the complement are Waves. The laboratory at the Indian Head powder plant, where much of U. S. rocket propellant is tested, is completely operated by women, and Waves also man one of the two firing bays, and do about half of the computation on ballistics.

Handling the $

Other enterprises now largely in feminine hands are those of getting supplies out to the fleet and the advanced bases, paying Navy Personnel and accounting for the expenditures of the Navy. Several thousand Wave officers and enlisted women in the Supply Corps do these tremendous jobs, handling materials and expenditures totaling millions of dollars each month.

Wave officers also use their training in administration, radio and radar, languages, law, communications and education. Two women officers serve in the Civil Engineer Corps.

HELMETS AND SLACKS are variations in uniform of the day for Waves who board partly finished hull in Navy yard.   NAVY MAIL is handled 80% by Wave personnel. But Waves like to get mail as well as carry it, as you can see.

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Official U. S. Navy photographs
BLIMP GETS A MESSAGE from a Wave radioman at Charleston Naval Air Station. Navy's radio nerve center in Washington is 75% manned by Waves.

More than 1,000 Wave officers are former enlisted women commissioned following officer's training at the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School, formerly at Northampton, Mass., and since April located in Washington, D. C. Twenty-five women are now receiving officer's training each month, each class consisting of former enlisted women and occupational and physical therapists drawn from civilian life.

Waves Overseas

The first Wave officers went overseas last October, less than a month after Congress passed the necessary legislation. They were joined in January by a large group of enlisted women, and at present 350 officers and 3,659 enlisted women are serving in Hawaii, at air stations, hospitals, the navy yards, and many other activities in the 14th Naval District.

In addition to duty in Hawaii, Waves have been assigned to temporary duty in Alaska, the Aleutians, Puerto Rico and Bermuda.

SecNav Tribute

The contributions which the Waves are making toward victory cannot be measured, but the words of Secretary Forrestal speak well for the Waves' notable accomplishments in their first three years:

"I congratulate the members of the Women's Reserve. You have every right to be proud. Your conduct, discharge of military responsibilities, and skillful work are in the highest tradition of the naval service. Keep up the good work."

NAVIGATING a transport plane on a flight over the Caribbean are these three flying Waves assigned to NATS.   CONTROL TOWER of this naval air station is manned by a trio of Waves. Almost a third of Waves are in aviation.


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Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Rick Pitz, HyperWar Foundation