An Occasional Blog
Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom and Veterans Day in the USA coincide this year on 11 November. The eleventh hour of the eleventh month of 2018 will mark the 100th year since the fighting stopped in what came to be known as World War I (August 1914 – November 1918).
It's a good time to read up on World War I from the British experience.
Two novels and an autobiography that I thoroughly enjoyed are among my top choices. All three books:
In short, the books hit the mark in describing the difficulties of the Great War for the British who suffered through it. Two are hefty in length: the autobiography, Testament of Youth, runs about 600 pages; Parade’s End (really four novels) comes in close to 900 pages. The short novel, The Return of the Soldier, is not quite 100 pages.
Nine Movies? Plus One.
Memorial Day is in May in the U.S., and that makes this month a good time to catch up on military movies. Since my novel, Women’s Company – The Minerva Girls, is about three young women in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I’ll focus on ten movies that feature women in the WAC.
Many of the selected films not only cast well-known actors of the period, but also stars such as Tony Curtis, Cary Grant, William Holden, Janet Leigh, Rosalind Russell, Ann Sheridan, Lana Turner, and Richard Widmark.
Most of the stories share an underlying theme: how Army service changes a person.
Not until July 1, 1943, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed a compromise bill passed by the U.S. Congress to establish the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) giving women full military status.
Minerva is the ancient Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Pallas Athene, the goddess of wisdom, warfare, and handicrafts.
Unlike the god of warfare, Mars, she had nothing to do with bloodlust and brute animal strength. When Minerva showed up on the battlefield, victory came through courage, sound strategy, and military skill. After the fighting was over, she led through victory to peace and prosperity. Not surprisingly, the WAC chose her--in her Greek form as Pallas Athene--to be their insignia, and I chose her to be in the title of my novel Women's Company - The Minerva Girls.
What's So Important About Insignia?
The armed forces take insignia quite seriously. The creation of insignia for the WAC initially stumped designers. Why? Because insignia usually depict the function of the corps concerned and, when The Women's Army (and at that time Auxiliary) Corps was created in 1942, no one knew exactly what work the women would do.
According to historian Mattie Treadwell, an early draft for the insignia tried to resemble a busy-bee-like insect. In the eyes of the WAAC director, however, it looked like a bug, and she "had no desire to be called the Queen Bee." When designers came up with Pallas Athene--a goddess associated with "a variety of womanly virtues and no vices either womanly or godlike"--she won hands down.
What Does the Insignia Look Like?
A profile of the head of the Greek goddess, Pallas Athene, was selected for the WAC's lapel insignia, together with the traditional U.S. cut out for officers, and on discs for enlisted women.
Lynne Schall is the author of Cloud County Persuasion and Women's Company - The Minerva Girls. She and her family live in Kansas, USA, where she is working on a sequel to her second novel, Cloud County Persuasion.