Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II

Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II

Jacob Miller - September 27, 2017

American women in World War II became involved in many tasks outside of the domestic sphere that they rarely had before. The global conflict and the urgency of mobilizing the entire population made the expansion of the role of women inevitable and crucial.

Women worked in the war industries building ships, aircrafts, vehicles, and weaponry, and munitions. Women also worked in factories, farms, drove trucks, provided logistic support for soldiers, and entered professional fields that before had been ubiquitously male-dominated. Women also enlisted as nurses and served on the front lines.

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were civilians who flew stateside missions to transport planes. These women were the first to fly American military aircrafts. There were over 1,000 trained WASP pilots who flew from 126 bases in the United States and carried 50% of the combat aircrafts during the war. 38 of these brave women died in service.

Women were also very important in intelligence gathering and espionage. 4,500 women worked in the Office of Strategic Services with positions of clerks, operational agents, code-breakers, and undercover agents. Elizabeth Thorp Pack most notably helped acquire the first enigma machine from Polish intelligence and secured Italian and Vichy French codebooks.

On the home front, 19 million American women filled out the labor force with factory jobs, transportation jobs, agricultural jobs, and office work. Women also volunteered by planting victory gardens, canning produce, selling war bonds, donating blood, and sending care packages.

Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
“Bernice Daunora, 31, a member of a steel mill’s “top gang” who must wear a “one-hour, lightweight breathing apparatus” as protection against gas escaping from blast furnaces, Gary, Ind. 1943. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Transfer car operator Mae Harris, 23, signals to a crane-man above to return the empty, hot metal ladle bucket to the transfer car (L) after it was emptied of its load of molten iron which was poured into an open-hearth furnace at a steel mill. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
In the foundry of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Co., these women are at work as core-makers. A total of 18 women employed here on two shifts. The core-maker’s functions are like those of a sculptor, and the implements used are trowels, spatulas, and mallets. Castings being made in this picture are for use not only at Carnegie-Illinois but at other plants. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
On aircraft carrier deck women work as welders and scrapers. Girls alongside this steel prefabricated deck section who are without headgear and masks operate tools which scrape loose surface imperfections in preparation for welding. The welder in the foreground has her name, ‘Jackie,’ written on her helmet, a popular style among women welders. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Ann Zarik, 22, is a flame burner in Armor Plate Division. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Audra Mae Hulse, 20, is flame cutter at the American Bridge Co. in Gary. She has five relatives in the plant. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Beveling armor plate for tanks at Gary Works, these women operate powerful acetylene torches. Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Blanche Jenkins, 39, is a welder at Carnegie-Illinois, buys a $50 war bond each month. She has two children. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Stamping machine in rail mill at Gary is operated by Mrs. Florence Romanowski (right). She mechanically brands identifications into red-hot rails. Her husband is in the Army. Margaret Bourke-White- The Life Picture Collection/Getty
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Dolores Macias, 26, of Mexican descent, has a son. She has been a member of the top gang for five months. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Flame cutting of a slab is done by a four-torch machine controlled and operated by one woman. Alice Jo Barker (above) has a husband and a son who also work in war industries. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Katherine Mrzljak, 34, is a Blast furnace cleaner. She is Croatian, has two children. Husband also works in a mill. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Lorraine Gallinger, 20, is a metallurgical observer. She is from North Dakota. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Lugrash Larry, 32, a laborer in Blast Furnace Department, has four children. Husband works in the Billet Mill. Margaret Bourke-White0 The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Pan Man’ at Gary Works is Mrs. Rosalie Ivy. She is mixing a special mud used to seal the casting hole through which molten iron flows from a blast furnace. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Scarfing is the operation which removes surface defects from slabs to condition them for rolling. Woman (center) marks out defects with chalk for a man (right) who is doing the scarfing. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Image
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Theresa Arana, 21, takes down temperature recordings at draw furnaces, Gary, Ind., 1943. Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Victoria Brotko, 22, is a blacksmith’s helper. She took her twin brother’s job when he joined the Marines Margaret Bourke-White-The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Women employees at Tubular Alloy Steel Corp. in Gary, Ind. predominate at pep meeting, 1943. Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Image
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Women laborers clear tracks of spilled materials, Gary, Ind. 1943. Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Image
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Women wearing gas masks clean a blast furnace top at a Gary, Ind. steel mill, 1943. Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Image
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Women welders, Gary, Ind., 1943. Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Female metallurgical observer uses an optical pyrometer in determining the temperature of the molten steel in the open hearth. Margaret Bourke-White- The LIFE Picture Collection/ Getty Images
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
LIFE magazine cover, August 9, 1943. Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
October 1942. Long Beach, California. “Women are trained to do precise and vital engine installation detail in Douglas Aircraft Co. plants.” boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
October 1942. “Women are trained as engine mechanics in thorough Douglas training methods. Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California.” boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
June 1942. Engine inspector for North American Aviation at Long Beach, California. boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
October 1942. Inglewood, California. “Young woman employee of North American Aviation working over the landing gear mechanism of a P-51 fighter plane.” boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
October 1942. Long Beach, California. “Girl riveting machine operator at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant joins sections of wing ribs to reinforce the inner wing assemblies of B-17F heavy bombers.” boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Women employed as roundhouse wipers having lunch, Chicago & North Western Railroad, Clinton, Iowa. Marcella Hart is at left, Mrs. Elibia Siematter at right. April 1943. boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Working on a “Vengeance” dive-bomber at Vultee-Nashville. February 1943. boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
February 1943. Heil & Co., Milwaukee. “Agnes Cliemka, age 23, her husband may be going into the service any day. Agnes used to work in a department store. Checking fuel hose on gasoline trailer before it is turned over to the Air Force.” boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
October 1942. Girl worker at lunch also absorbing California sunshine, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach. boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
October 1942. Engine installers at Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, California. boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
October 1942. Lathe operator machining parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft plant in Fort Worth, Texas. boredpanda
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Fee Perez inspects .30 caliber rifle and machine gun bullets at Remington Arms Company’s Bridgeport, Connecticut, plant alongside a photo of her husband, Melburn, who is serving overseas. History
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Women at work in a munitions factory during World War Two © East Midlands Regional Archive Council
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Group of Army Nurses of the 10th Field Hospital (400-bed capacity) posing in front of a 1/4-Ton Truck. The 10th Field Hospital arrived in the MTO March 19, 1943, spending more than a year in Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy, finally being transferred on November 1, 1944, where it saw action at the French Riviera and in the Moselle area. med-dept
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Nurses of the 13th Field Hospital are enjoying lunch, the picture was taken on Omaha Beach. The 13th was the first Field Hospital to land on June 7, 1944, and due to a congested and only partially organized beachhead, only went into operation June 10. med-dept
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
U.S. Army Nurses enjoying the amenities of British country life … all Nurses seem to wear the Wool Olive Drab Dark Shade No. 51 Winter Uniform, except the woman to the right, who looks like she is wearing the One-Piece OD Winter Dress. The photo was taken in Swindon, England, mid-April 1944. The 250th Station Hospital Nurses temporarily joined the “Nurses Provisional Battalion” at Swindon awaiting a change of Station. From L to R: Second Lieutenants Frances E. Dunning; Jean H. Duffy; Marie L. Lowe; Ann Heiser; Marion E. Castrodale; Faith A. Oldham; Gwyneth Edge; Doris M. Allshouse; Beatrice O. Patterson. med-dept
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Picture showing a group of Nurses belonging to the 250th Station Hospital. Note the Nurses are wearing cotton Seersucker Uniforms with appropriate Caps, and are draped in old dark blue Capes. The photo was taken in Grimsditch, England, end May, early June 1944. med-dept
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
Malinta Tunnel hospital ward, Philippines. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
WW2 recruitment poster designed to encourage women to actively become involved with the Army Nurse Corps. med-dept
Photographs of the Unsung Heroes of World War II
In many nations, women were encouraged to join female branches of the armed forces or participate in industrial or farm work. Wikipedia

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