The Minute Book
Friday, 5 December 2014

Canadian Women’s Army Corps
Topic: Canadian Army

Personnel of the Canadian Women's Army Corps at No. 3 CWAC (Basic) Training Centre. Kitchener, Ontario. April 6, 1944.

Here's How Jenny Gets Her Gun

Wide World Feature

Lewiston Evening Journal; Lewiston, Maine, 17 July 1942

Wondering what America's new women's army will be like?

You can learn a thing or two from Major Joan Kennedy, head of Canada's Women's army corps.

Major Kennedy made a recent visit to New York. When she and her staff assistant, Captain Phyllis Lee-Wright, passed through Grand Central Station they caused more craning of necks than a visiting movie queen. Every passing eye took in their natty, brass-buttoned khaki hued uniforms.

Major Joan Kennedy

What Major Kennedy said was of great interest too—especially to women who may soon be in army uniform themselves.

Good Soldiers

"Women have adapted themselves splendidly to military procedure and army life," she told me. "They get on well with the men. And the men have welcomed them, for they are glad to be freed of such jobs as cooking and clerking and get out on active service."

Then she gave a graphic picture of Canadian women's army life as her corps of 2,800 knows it. The one-time stenographers, waitresses, lawyers, and dieticians begin their recruit service with a 30-day training in squad drill, map reading, first aid, protection against gas, physical training, military procedure, and army discipline and law. That finished, they are given any special training required for their jobs and then stationed at any one of 200 army posts or training centers. They do stenographic work, cook in commissaries, wait table in mess hall, care for stores of uniforms and ammunition, drive staff cars and light trucks. They draw two-thirds of a soldier's pay and most of them live in army barracks. They are up at 6:15 reveille.

Officers may doff uniforms and don frills for an evening engagement, if they wish. But not the rank and file. When they have a date with the boyfriend, they go in uniform. Officers can wear silk stockings too, but the rank and file get there in lisle.

Drivers of No.3 Section, Motor Ambulance Convoy, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (R.C.A.S.C.), await the departure of a convoy, Farnborough, England. (L-R): Privates Mina Bray, Elda Austin, Olive Baguley, Mary McLennan, Elfreda Duggan, Roonie Sigurdson and Gladys Deneau. 12 January 1945. Photographer: Karen M. Hermiston.

Cap Angles

For a time Women's Army Corps caps were a matter of some concern. Some of the women wore them tilted at too exaggerated an angle. But now the caps are regulated to a tilt of 15 degrees to the right. The women are allowed a light makeup and may dress their hair as they please, provided the coiffure is neat and clears the collar. But colored nail polish and jewelry—except a watch and wedding ring—are taboo.

Major Kennedy, 38, blue-eyed and English-born, came to Canada with her family in 1911. They returned to England during the last war and then came back to Victoria, British Columbia. The girl who was to head Canada's first women's army took a business course, held a secretarial job for several years and in 1929 married Norman R. Kennedy, a Victoria engineer.

Major Kennedy says a lot of the members of her corps are married too. One of their husbands, who cannot join the army because he is needed in civil service, may have voiced the thought of more than one when he said: "It's a heck of a note when a man's best girl goes off to war and he has to stay behind and tend home fires."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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