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Hampton Roads During WWII

Overhead view of Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation

The Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation (HRPE) was the Army command structure and distribution port in Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was originally the Newport News Port of Embarkation when it was activated for World War I, and it was reactivated as the HRPE on 15 June 1942, in the wake of Pearl Harbor and the US’ entrance in World War II.

Generals touring HRPE installations

The main purpose of the Port was supporting the movement of personnel and cargo overseas, particularly to the European Theater of Operations (ETO). HRPE was the third largest US Army Transportation Corps port of embarkation during WWII. It served as a hub for the movements of millions of troops between 1942-1946.

WAC directing soldiers as they board the train on HRPE pier

Fortunately, the Mariners’ Museum and Park was gifted thousands of original photos taken at HRPE during this time period. These photographs give an unique insight into the lives of the men and women who traveled through the HRPE and those who made sure HRPE ran smoothly.

Spontaneous dancing on HRPE pier
Nurses of 81st Field Hospital
American Red Cross volunteers hand out coffee and donuts to members of the 92nd Infantry Div.

While there are so many stories from HRPE, we’d like to focus on some lesser known stories–the stories of the women who worked and passed through there. There were hundreds of thousands of women who supported the war effort through a variety of services. Those who volunteered for the Red Cross, the Army or Navy Nurse Corps, or the Women’s Army Corps could have served on the Homefront, at an institution like HRPE, or served abroad and shipped out through HRPE. Other women worked at HRPE by volunteering through the Navy, Marines, or as civilians. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on the different organizations and women involved in the war effort!

Photo of Pvt. Betty Brayek with her Valentine to HRPE


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