In recognition of International Women’s Day I thought it appropriate to highlight a few items in the collection pertaining to women in the military.
This first item is a short snorter on a Central Bank of China 10 customs gold units note. The first signature on the note is Geraldine P(ratt) May, Major, A(ir) C(orps).
Colonel May was born in 1895 in Albany, NY. She died in 1997 at the age of 102. Before the war she was a social worker and an executive with the Camp Fire Girls. She joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in July 1942. Upon completion of officer candidate school she was assigned to the Army Air Corps where she served as director of WACs in the Air Transport Command. After the war she was appointed Director of Women in the newly created United States Air Force. She was promoted to full colonel and was the first woman in the Air Force to hold that rank. She left active service in 1951.
This next piece is also a short snorter with the signatures of four different women. The underlying note is an Australian made counterfeit of the one pound note issued by the Japanese for their occupation of Oceania. Three of the four signatures are positively identified.
Cathey (Catherine) Coffey was a WAC from Butte, Montana. She enlisted in May 1943. (Jean) Tommy Thomson was a nurse in Hastings, Nebraska when she joined the Army Nursing Corps in 1943. She served in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. Pearl Hays also joined the WACs in 1943. Her civilian job was a keypunch operator and the Army put her to work in cryptology in New Guinea and the Philippines. The identity of Helen Edwards, the remaining signature, cannot be verified. There were at least three different women with that name who served in the WACs.
This last piece is a $10.00 War Bond made payable to Mrs. Josephine Dannegger. The $10.00 bond was referred to as the Soldier’s Bond as they could only be purchased by US Army personnel.
Ms. Dannegger immigrated to the United States from Germany with her husband in 1923. They lived in New Rochelle, NY. They were separated when her husband enlisted in the Army in 1942. They divorced in Florida in 1945. That same year, Josephine enlisted in the WACs at the age of 49! She made the Army her career and retired in 1965 having also served in the Korean War. She appeared on the White House guest list for Thanksgiving Dinner in 1969 as a guest of President Nixon. She died in 1983 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.