Women and the Sea logo
Introduction
navigation separator
Myths and Mermaids
navigation separator
Life in Port
navigation separator
Going to Sea
navigation separator
Lighthouse Keepers
navigation separator
Changing Roles for Women
navigation separator
Women in the Military
navigation separator
Women in Wartime Production
navigation separator
Early Yachting and Racing
navigation separator
Women and the Sea in the 20th Century
navigation separator
Timeline
navigation separator
Resources
spacer
In This Chapter

Introduction

Naval Nurses
The Yeoman (F)
Navy WAVES
Coast Guard SPARS

header

Navy WAVES

Enlist in the WAVES
1943
John Falter, USNR
The Mariners' Museum

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. Navy began building more ships and creating new bases and facilities.
Proud--I'll Say
1943
John Falter, USNR
The Mariners' Museum

Facing a shortage of men for active and support jobs, in January 1942 the Secretary of the Navy petitioned the U.S. Congress for a women's reserve. Also in January 1942, the Office of Naval Intelligence began looking to colleges for women who could work in intelligence. Once the training was completed, the women were sworn in as ensigns in the U.S. Navy.

In July 1942, the Navy Women's Reserve Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The organization's official name became Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or "WAVES."The word "emergency" was intended to denote the temporary nature of the women's service. As the war continued, more WAVES were sent overseas to cover noncombat duties. By 1945 there were more than 84,000 women enlisted in the navy.



Codebreaking
Women Working to Decipher Codes
1944
The Mariners' Museum Research Library and Archives

WAVE at a Bombe Decoding Machine
The Mariners' Museum Research Library and Archives

Plotting Sheet
Courtesy of the National Archives

Between June and August 1942, Axis submarines sank more than 600 Allied ships, and the need to intercept German radio signals became more urgent. Allied intelligence officers on both sides of the Atlantic hoped to break the encrypted codes that were allowing Axis commanders to organize and carry out attacks on Allied convoys.

The Axis codes created by the "Enigma" machine were difficult to break because they changed so often. When Polish and French resistance fighters captured parts of the Enigma machine, they delivered the information to the British, who developed a decoding device called the "Bombe."British and American codebreakers, including many WAVES, used this new high- speed system to decipher the messages sent by German U-boat captains. Many of the WAVES did not understand the messages, because the decoding had been broken into a series of steps. Once the messages were decoded, the position of the U-boat was plotted on a map by a WAVE and the information was sent to Allied ships.



Activity:
Women testing to work in the codebreaking sections of the navy had to pass a series of tests. One demonstrated how quickly they could complete a crossword puzzle. The same mental processes used to decipher a crossword puzzle might be used to break a code.

Print this crossword puzzle and time yourself and your friends to see how quickly you can complete the problem. Here are the answers.



Section 4 of 5 |
Next Page >>



Copyright © 2000 The Mariners' Museum. All Rights Reserved.