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World War II

US Women of WW2

Women played an important role for the United States in World War II. Although they did not enter combat as soldiers, many women helped by serving in the armed forces. They also helped to keep the country together at the home front. Women worked in factories producing ships, tanks, munitions and other much needed products for the war effort.

WAC recruting poster
Poster recruiting women for the armed forces
Source: National Archives

Women in the Armed Forces

Many women served in the armed forces during the war. Some served as nurses in the Army Nurse corps. This could be a dangerous job as some nurses worked in hospitals that were close to the war front. They served in a variety of areas including field hospitals, ship hospitals, medical transport planes, and evacuation hospitals. Many soldier's lives were saved by these brave nurses.

Women also served in the Women's Army Corps or WAC. This was a branch of the armed forces started up in 1942. Women served in non-combat areas such as mechanics repairing vehicles, army post offices sorting mail, and working in communications and warning systems. There were 150,000 women in the WAC by the end of the war. They served throughout the military, even landing in Normandy only a few weeks after D-Day.

Nurses in World War II
Nurses in the Army
Source: National Archives

At first many men did not want women in the armed forces. It was Eleanor Roosevelt and General George Marshall who eventually got the WAC approved. Later, women troops were such good soldiers that some leaders suggested that women should be drafted.

Women's Air Force Service Pilots

Women also served as pilots as Women's Air Force Service Pilots or WASPs. These were women who already had pilot's licenses. They flew military planes between army bases and flew cargo planes carrying supplies. This freed up male pilots for combat missions.

WW2 Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter
Source: National Museum of American History

Rosie the Riveter

Perhaps one of the largest contributions of women during World War II was keeping our factories running. With 10 million men in the army, many women were needed to run the country's factories. They produced much needed planes, tanks, warships, guns, and other munitions for the war.

In order to inspire women to work in the factories, the US government came up with the "Rosie the Riveter" campaign. Displayed on posters and magazines, Rosie the Riveter was a character that portrayed a strong patriotic woman who worked in the factories to help the country. There was even a popular song called "Rosie the Riveter". The campaign was successful as hundreds of thousands of women entered the work force taking on jobs that had been previously done by men.

Famous Women

Here are a few of the women from around the world who became famous during World War II:

Eleanor Roosevelt - The First Lady and wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor was a strong supporter of the troops and for civil rights. She opposed the internment camps of the Japanese Americans and was active in boosting moral on the US home front.

Eleanor Roosevelt on plane
Eleanor Roosevelt on a plane
Source: National Park Service

Queen Elizabeth - The Queen was a symbol of unity for the British against Hitler. She was a great source of moral for the troops. When she was advised to take her children and flee London, she refused saying that the King would never leave and neither would she.

Tokyo Rose - This was the name given to the Japanese women who voiced radio propaganda to the US Troops fighting Japan. She tried to demoralize the troops by continuously telling them that they could not win the war.

Eva Braun - Eva was Hitler's mistress. She married him at the end of the war, right before they committed suicide together.

Sophie Scholl - Sophie was a German woman who actively opposed the Nazis and the Third Reich. She was arrested for protesting the war and later executed. She is considered a great hero giving her life to try and stop the Nazis.

Anne Frank - Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who became famous for her diaries written while hiding from the Nazis for two years in a secret room. She eventually was caught and died in a concentration camp.


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  • Learn More about World War II:

    World War II Timeline
    Allied Powers and Leaders
    Axis Powers and Leaders
    Causes of WW2
    War in Europe
    War in the Pacific
    After the War

    Battle of Britain
    Battle of the Atlantic
    Pearl Harbor
    Battle of Stalingrad
    D-Day (Invasion of Normandy)
    Battle of the Bulge
    Battle of Berlin
    Battle of Midway
    Battle of Guadalcanal
    Battle of Iwo Jima

    The Holocaust
    Japanese Internment Camps
    Bataan Death March
    Fireside Chats
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Atomic Bomb)
    War Crimes Trials
    Recovery and the Marshall Plan
    Winston Churchill
    Charles de Gaulle
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Harry S. Truman
    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Douglas MacArthur
    George Patton
    Adolf Hitler
    Joseph Stalin
    Benito Mussolini
    Anne Frank
    Eleanor Roosevelt

    The US Home Front
    Women of World War II
    African Americans in WW2
    Spies and Secret Agents
    Aircraft Carriers
    World War II Glossary and Terms

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    History >> World War 2 for Kids

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