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The Women of World War II

In today’s world, women go to war and fight along with their male counterparts. That was not the case in World War II, but women then had an equally important role to play in the war effort. Three Georgia women performed very different jobs during the war and represent the various roles of women in wartime. Pat Barrett of Norcross who worked at Bell Aircraft Company in Marietta could also be called Rosie the Riveter. With a shortage of men on the home front, women were called to do their patriotic duty and take on jobs normally held by men. Mrs. Barrett recalls how they were asked to be perfectionists on the job because soldiers’ lives were at stake. She recounts the pride she felt when she saw a B-29 bomber she helped build take off and fly. Creola Barnes Belton of St. Simons Island has a different story. Rather than become a domestic worker, a common job for African American women, she worked three jobs in order to attend nursing school. Through letters from the front, her future husband Walter Belton, encouraged her to pursue her dream. She became an Army nurse, and now both war veterans recall their service with pride as they have done throughout their long marriage. Helen Kogel Denton of Riverdale joined the Women’s Army Corps and found herself stationed in London and working for Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. With London under attack from German bombers, she was responsible for typing the highly secretive orders for D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy.

Teacher tip: Discuss why women had to be encouraged to go to work during the war. Discuss what would be different for them after the war ended and soldiers returned home.