Who Were The WAVES?

Manpower shortages, which resulted from fighting the World War II on two fronts, forced U.S. Navy officials to enlist women in the war.  This resulted in amending the Naval Reserve Act of 1938 and on July 30, 1942 the Women’s Auxiliary Reserve, later known as the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) was created.The purpose of the law was to release officers and men for sea duty and replace them with women in shore activities.  By 1943, approximately 27,000 women were on duty in the Navy.  These loyal dedicated women came from all walks of life – many from small towns, farms and a few from large cities.  They joined the WAVES to do their part for the war effort.  Some had lost fathers, brothers and husbands in the war.  Some were from large families, some the only girl with many brothers who felt it was their patriotic duty to serve.  Many were telephone operators, teletype operators, secretaries, bookkeepers, IBM operators and even a floral designer.  One was an instructor for radio operators at an Army Air Force base, and several were employed in the defense industry.  Many of the WAVE officers had been teachers.

Most of the enlisted WAVES went to Boot Camp at Hunter College, Bronx, New York.  A few early enlistees in 1942 went directly to Oklahoma A & M College for Yeoman training or to the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Wisconsin, or to Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, Iowa.  Many after Boot Camp were sent to radio schools at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio then to Chatham Massachusetts for duty as German naval intercept operators or to Bainbridge Island, Washington, for additional training in Japanese Kata Kana code with follow on assignment as Japanese naval intercept operators.
Source: NCVA
Edited by Mario Vulcano