In Photos: Women Marines During WWII

Some of the 20,000 women reservists who answered the call to ‘free a man to fight’ – releasing urgently needed male marines for combat duty on the front line. At the end of the war the women’s unit was demobilized, with numbers slashed to around 12,000 members in December 1945 and cut by a further 2,000 for each month after that. As rumors circulated the army was considering changing their policy on women, the cuts were slowed and hundreds of the women applied to stay on.

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The Marine Corps Women’s Reserve Band were renowned as the most outstanding female band in the United States, following in the footsteps of the men’s band, which was established by act of Congress in 1798, making it the oldest professional musical organization in the country.

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By June 1944, women reservists made up 85 percent of the enlisted personnel on duty at Headquarters Marine Corps and almost two-thirds of the personnel manning all major posts and stations in the United States and Hawaii. Their duties including filling positions as parachute riggers, mechanics, radio operators, mapmakers, aviation mechanics and welders.

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