A WAAC Band from 1943
22 July 2010
Posted by Mike Brubaker
The WAAC (which had the "Auxiliary" removed in 1943) were initially based at Ft. Des Moines, Iowa. And I believe the parade ground where this photo was taken is the same field where Jesse Orr Romig and the 11th US Cavalry Band practiced their drills in 1904. See: 11th US Cavalry Band What a strange coincidence to find two different bands from different times on the same grass!
Ft. Des Moines History
There is no extra identification on this card, other than the official printed material. But note the government description at the lower left. The date seems clear but did they really do a print run of 15 million? Maybe it was part of a series. Here is a different series that I found at the Minnesota Historical Society. The band is at image number 4. WAAC Postcards from Ft. Des Moines
One of the first women's army band leaders was Joan A. Lamb and I found this great blog while searching the internet for WAAC & band. Ladies in Brass, Joan A. Lamb
During the war, the Pentagon commissioned 5 Army bands composed of women, and that is not counting those women's units of the Navy, Marine Reserve and Coast Guard. Find more history on all that here. Women's Military Bands
The changes to our culture that resulted from the global conflict of World War Two are countless. It's difficult today to imagine a musical world that was so unequal in regard to race and gender, though that was the way of the world only 70 years ago. But the inclusion of women into the military and especially the band program in 1943, clearly started an unexpected revolution in music performance and education that is outside the usual post-war history. You don't have to look very far on a concert stage or a parade field to see the results.