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Women in the US military


stevie boy
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I am researching Mabel Hawksworth. Mabel was a UK Citizen who joined the US military. No written details are known, but it is suggested she joined in Fresno California around mid 1917 and wanted to be a member of a Field Artillery Battalion. Indeed, it is likely she joined this Battalion. Her skills were farming and dressmaking - it is not known if the military took advantage of these. Mabel did go truck driving, perhaps for the Battalion, and it has been mentioned that Mabel spent time at Newport News. A possibility is Mabel transferred to a Supply Company and was posted there

Mabel may have served in Europe, but nothing has been confirmed.

It appears Mabel did not gain US Citizenship for her service. I say this because she returned to the UK in 1919 and it appears she did not gain a US pension.

I appreciate this is a very niche area. There would have been small numbers of UK women serving in the US military, but is anybody able to shed any light on any of the points I am pondering over?

Thank you in advance for responding to my first post on the Forum!

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Thank you Jim for the kind words.

My gut feeling is Mabel joined the US Army but they would only accept her status as that of a contractor. With this status she operated in the Field Artillery hauling the guns, and delivering the shells. Chancing my arm further, I think Mabel was posted from California to Newport News in this role.

I am posting this from rural England and was wondering if there are folks in the USA with a forum that might be more appropriate. I have no knowledge of this - does anyone have any thoughts on this?

The ultimate would be a site, or contributor, located in Fresno! I can but hope. I did scratch around a couple of years ago and came up with nothing, but I also accept my lack of knowledge in these areas. It seemed to me that WW1 was something Americans are not interested in, or have little knowledge of. Perhaps this was different when the veterans were still with us. Of course, apologies to any Americans if this remark has caused offence!

If I get nowhere it would be a shame - the story of Mabel and her brothers is fascinating. They joined together to serve together. The two brothers crossed to France, but my instinct is the Army did not put women under fire, so Mabel got to the Atlantic, perhaps got to the English Channel, but was not allowed to cross this.

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Is it possible she joined the US NAVY or the MARINE CORPS rather than the army? I know these branches did recruit women to serve as yeomen or office workers/sectys in many HQs. No info as to women in the army. I ask because Newport News has naval connections. Not sure if any women in these units were sent overseas but possible. Of course nurses & other medical people did get to UK & France & under fire especially from air raids. Hope you will post what you have on this woman as it may hold clues not readily apparent to most readers but may help forum members in getting answers to this interesting subject.

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I don't believe that any women who were not nurses were enlisted in the US Army during WWI. Some joined the USMC and the Navy, and I have seen a reference to a few who joined the Coast Guard. Although many women served during the war (e.g. the telephone operators-- the hello girls), I believe all in support of the Army were considered contractors or civilian volunteers. I doubt seriously that she was enlisted into a Field Artillery Battalion, though it is of course possible that she served with such a unit as a civilian or contractor.

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Is it possible she joined the US NAVY or the MARINE CORPS rather than the army?

Hope you will post what you have on this woman as it may hold clues not readily apparent to most readers but may help forum members in getting answers to this interesting subject.

Mabel would have been in the Recruiting Office in Fresno (I do not the terminology nor the system here) and probably seeking a placement in the Field Artillery Battalion. The Army did not publicly acknowledge her volunteering. The family are adamant Mabel was signed up to the Army and not a contractor - they have always maintained this.

Mabel did training with the Field Artillery Battalion at Camp Kierney but when they came to leave for France Mabel did not go with them. This was a troop train so what became of Mabel and how is she connected with Newport News? Perhaps the Battalion also trained on gunnery at Newport News? However, this is thousands of miles away so seems unlikely. A gunnery school was at Newport News - perhaps Mabel was posted there?

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I don't believe that any women who were not nurses were enlisted in the US Army during WWI. Some joined the USMC and the Navy, and I have seen a reference to a few who joined the Coast Guard. Although many women served during the war (e.g. the telephone operators-- the hello girls), I believe all in support of the Army were considered contractors or civilian volunteers. I doubt seriously that she was enlisted into a Field Artillery Battalion, though it is of course possible that she served with such a unit as a civilian or contractor.

This is my puzzle. Accepted wisdom is the Army did not recruit women. It is said Mabel drove Army lorries, and she had the frame of mind to do this. I have seen a newspaper cutting saying she served in the US forces (I do not have either to hand ).

If one debates was Mabel enlisted one also has to debate why she was not given US Citizenship for her role. But did this apply to women? Was it compulsory? Was it well regulated and administered?

I know the paying out of pensions was not well administered. Perhaps Mabel did have an entitlement to a US pension, as a result of her service, but it was never paid her? I know her brother (who also returned to the UK) needed assistance to claim his US pension. It appears the US authorities were unaware of where their citizens were living, and of their service details?

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If in fact she had some association with a unit of artillery, I wonder if it was a National Guard unit based in Calif.? They were like your Territorials & someitmes a bit "looser" with details etc.. They might have let her join up in some capacity with them but doubt a regular unit would do such a thing. When they were Federalize, called up for service, they may have let her go with them to VA but with understanding she had no official status & had to stay home when they sailed. A mascot if you will in some sense.

Quite a story indeed & begs to be explained. Does the family have any photos of her in any type of uniform or any papers to verify any service details? I'm very unsure about pensions in any case, no idea of the qualifications for one. She would have had to apply for one & provide details of service. If denied she would have had papers informing her of the decision. The antiquity of the events & no papers makes it hard to find out much.

Also not sure if service in military earned automatic citizenship in the USA. Hope someone can offer correct info on that idea.

I hope you can ask the family to look hard for any documents or photos that may shed light on this interesting story. Please keep looking if you can & updating us. Thanks for sharing what you have so far.

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If in fact she had some association with a unit of artillery, I wonder if it was a National Guard unit based in Calif.? They were like your Territorials & someitmes a bit "looser" with details etc.. They might have let her join up in some capacity with them but doubt a regular unit would do such a thing. When they were Federalize, called up for service, they may have let her go with them to VA but with understanding she had no official status & had to stay home when they sailed. A mascot if you will in some sense.

Quite a story indeed & begs to be explained. Does the family have any photos of her in any type of uniform or any papers to verify any service details? I'm very unsure about pensions in any case, no idea of the qualifications for one. She would have had to apply for one & provide details of service. If denied she would have had papers informing her of the decision. The antiquity of the events & no papers makes it hard to find out much.

Also not sure if service in military earned automatic citizenship in the USA. Hope someone can offer correct info on that idea.

I hope you can ask the family to look hard for any documents or photos that may shed light on this interesting story. Please keep looking if you can & updating us. Thanks for sharing what you have so far.

The family have no details for Mabel. However there are letters written to her by the brother in 1918/9, indirect references to her role and possibly people around her. These letters alone are fascinating - they comprise pages of service in Europe and bring home that for the troops service life did not end when 11-11-1918 occurred.

The family have the service record for the one brother, the other brother has a record that is somewhere handy.

The two brothers and sister signed together - that was the family agreement. In reality the negotiating over terms was conducted by the eldest brother with the proviso he would volunteer if terms were satisfactory the other two would follow. The US Army wanted them for publicity and a press release to encourage US Citizens to enlist. Hence the elder brother held all the Aces. The deal was along the lines of "No Mabel equals none of us will enlist". Hence the US Army agreed to enlist Mabel. In effect, the deal was "we join together, we serve together".

There are no service records for any of them held by the US Authorities, but the family has the originals for the two brothers, plus press cuttings, and photos - more organised than the Authorities!

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I had a quick look around in Ancestry. Is this the Mabel Amelia Hawksworth (1895-1972) whose eldest brother was William Arthur Hawksworth, born 18 September, 1890 in Staunton, Worcestershire? If so, he arrived in New York on 1 June, 1914, going to see his uncle W. Hopkins in Fresno, California. He subsequently enlisted in the US Army on 5 August,1917 in Fresno, California. He had already declared his intention to become a US citizen on 15 May,1917. He was granted US citizenship on 3 June,1918 while he was still enlisted in the Army. He was discharged on 9 August, 1919. The 1961 application for his US Veteran's headstone for his grave in the Washington Colony Cemetery in Fresno, California shows he served as a Wagoner, Supply Company,16th Field Artillery (Brigade), 4th Division, US Army.

19 year old Mabel and her 21 year old brother Wesley John Hawksworth (1895-1964) appear to have come to the US to visit their brother, arriving in New York on 7 June, 1915. The 1918 Fresno City Directory shows Mabel's address as Route G, Box 62, the same address as her brother William's 5 June, 1917 US Draft registration. It looks like Wesley also served in the US Army in WW1 since his citizenship records show the same enlistment and naturalization date as his older brother William... Looks like they joined and served together.

Hope this helps

Paul

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If the brothers remained in the US the 1930 Census should show their veteran status I think.

Have you been able to find the brothers on the Census?

BTW it is not really a question of being "more organized than the authorities" the vast majority of US WWI records were destroyed in a catastrophic fire at the St Louis National Archive in July 1973

Chris

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From a publicly published family tree - Identified as Wesley Hawksworth on the left, William Hawksworth (I think that's a lance corporal chevron on his cuff) on the right ... Both shown in US WW1 1917 issue style wool uniform

post-111052-0-15774600-1463788814_thumb.

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More info on 16th Field Artillery ...

4th Division (Regulars)
Nickname: Ivy Division
39th, 47th, 58th, 59th Infantry (Inf.)
13th, 16th, 77th Artillery (Art.)
10th, 11th, 12th Machine Gun (M. G.)
4th Engineers (Eng.)

Major Generals Commanding: John L. Hines, M. L. Hersey.
Engaged: Chateau Thierry, Ourcq Heights, Vesle, Argonne, Rhine.
Shoulder/Sleeve Insignia:

1a-small.jpg

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According to records on Ancestry, it looks like 23 year old Mabel Hawksworth returned to Plymouth, England on 10 August, 1919 from New York via the Holland-America Line's Rotterdam. She gave her UK address as what looks like "Gloucester Grandin or Brandon House, Staunton." Her brother Wesley, a US citizen and US passport holder, returned via New York on the Cunard Mauretania to Plymouth on 8 December, 1919.

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I had a quick look around in Ancestry. Is this the Mabel Amelia Hawksworth (1895-1972) whose eldest brother was William Arthur Hawksworth, born 18 September, 1890 in Staunton, Worcestershire? If so, he arrived in New York on 1 June, 1914, going to see his uncle W. Hopkins in Fresno, California. He subsequently enlisted in the US Army on 5 August,1917 in Fresno, California. He had already declared his intention to become a US citizen on 15 May,1917. He was granted US citizenship on 3 June,1918 while he was still enlisted in the Army. He was discharged on 9 August, 1919. The 1961 application for his US Veteran's headstone for his grave in the Washington Colony Cemetery in Fresno, California shows he served as a Wagoner, Supply Company,16th Field Artillery (Brigade), 4th Division, US Army.

19 year old Mabel and her 21 year old brother Wesley John Hawksworth (1895-1964) appear to have come to the US to visit their brother, arriving in New York on 7 June, 1915. The 1918 Fresno City Directory shows Mabel's address as Route G, Box 62, the same address as her brother William's 5 June, 1917 US Draft registration. It looks like Wesley also served in the US Army in WW1 since his citizenship records show the same enlistment and naturalization date as his older brother William... Looks like they joined and served together.

Hope this helps

Paul

This is brilliant thanks. In particular the headstone, which I had not picked up on - hence my need to post to expert knowledge. However this raises a further puzzle to me. The "Deal" included money/promotion/incentives or something... When the brothers arrived in France they were immediately promoted but remained Private - which I find an odd concept. From artillery firing/marching they moved to Supply, but obviously (from your post) still with the same Brigade(?). I thought they were a Battalion but again this is an area I do not have knowledge of.

There was a considerable pay increase with the new role and far less work involved. Indeed, there are comments about supervising others doing much of the physical work. Again, I find this an odd concept for a Private to undertake. The upshot was they were supplying those who until France had been their direct colleagues, yet they were receiving more pay, with less work, and less risk.

However, perhaps my perception is wrong. Was Supply more dangerous than a Field Artillery Gun position. Were these guns behind the lines and relatively safe? Was supplying them more exposed, slower moving, subject to air attack...Over to all you experts please!

Thank you in advance of more fascinating replies.

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More info on 16th Field Artillery ...

4th Division (Regulars)

Nickname: Ivy Division

39th, 47th, 58th, 59th Infantry (Inf.)

13th, 16th, 77th Artillery (Art.)

10th, 11th, 12th Machine Gun (M. G.)

4th Engineers (Eng.)

Major Generals Commanding: John L. Hines, M. L. Hersey.

Engaged: Chateau Thierry, Ourcq Heights, Vesle, Argonne, Rhine.

Shoulder/Sleeve Insignia:

1a-small.jpg

Excellent thank you. The Insignia has a meaning I assume, and does anybody know this please? Also is this Insignia visible on the two brothers uniforms? I cannot see it but I do not know exactly where to look. Perhaps this Insignia was so typical of the times that all old photos do not show up great detail.

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If the brothers remained in the US the 1930 Census should show their veteran status I think.

Have you been able to find the brothers on the Census?

BTW it is not really a question of being "more organized than the authorities" the vast majority of US WWI records were destroyed in a catastrophic fire at the St Louis National Archive in July 1973

Chris

I am being a little bit flippant with my remark about being organized. It is a poor reflection on the US Authorities that this occurred. I am thinking fire walls, sprinklers, alarms, back up records and so on!

The family "records" have been left around, discarded in different locations in effect, and not carefully preserved. They have been subject to wet, vermin, and all sorts. Yet some have survived, hence my remark.

I am not aware of anything flagging up in Census on their status. I will look again thank you.

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I had a quick look around in Ancestry. Is this the Mabel Amelia Hawksworth (1895-1972) whose eldest brother was William Arthur Hawksworth, born 18 September, 1890 in Staunton, Worcestershire? If so, he arrived in New York on 1 June, 1914, going to see his uncle W. Hopkins in Fresno, California. He subsequently enlisted in the US Army on 5 August,1917 in Fresno, California. He had already declared his intention to become a US citizen on 15 May,1917. He was granted US citizenship on 3 June,1918 while he was still enlisted in the Army. He was discharged on 9 August, 1919. The 1961 application for his US Veteran's headstone for his grave in the Washington Colony Cemetery in Fresno, California shows he served as a Wagoner, Supply Company,16th Field Artillery (Brigade), 4th Division, US Army.

19 year old Mabel and her 21 year old brother Wesley John Hawksworth (1895-1964) appear to have come to the US to visit their brother, arriving in New York on 7 June, 1915. The 1918 Fresno City Directory shows Mabel's address as Route G, Box 62, the same address as her brother William's 5 June, 1917 US Draft registration. It looks like Wesley also served in the US Army in WW1 since his citizenship records show the same enlistment and naturalization date as his older brother William... Looks like they joined and served together.

Hope this helps

Paul

Sorry Paul, I meant to add this tends to back up what the family claim. The brother and sister lived together, (probably) joined together and (possibly) served together. I use the provisos because everything the family have claimed to date has faced general scrutiny. With Mabel it might be concluded that her records were destroyed in the US fire. Or her records were conveniently cast aside after she completed her role?

Again to seek guidance please. The brothers were in Supply and served past November 1918. Indeed there are comments of how dissatisfied they were that the US Army had broken the terms (or "deal") of their engagement. They had volunteered but were serving in Germany, whilst the enlisted troops had been sent back to the USA and to civilian life. The discharge date confirms this. (I suspect the discharge date for Wesley would be similar but is this available?). Why might they have been held onto and put into the Army of Occupation?

Are there any written archives, or soldiers tales about life in the Army Of Occupation? Ideally written about life in the US Army?

It appears Mabel had completed her service long before William's discharge date in August, which suggests she was not serving with them in the Army of Occupation in Germany. But back to my original pondering - I do not know where she was!

Thank you for your help.

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William Hawksworth (I think that's a lance corporal chevron on his cuff) on the right ... Both shown in US WW1 1917 issue style wool uniform

Not a rank chevron, but a "War Service Chevron" - see post 5 in particular:

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/197992-ww1-us-army-sleeve-insignia-regulations/

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Not a rank chevron, but a "War Service Chevron" - see post 5 in particular:

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/197992-ww1-us-army-sleeve-insignia-regulations/

Thank you Andrew for this link. It is all a learning curve for me! Unfortunately the posted photo means colours cannot be identified, and couple this with the permutation of chevrons and I am left bewildered.

What do you think the chevron on the sleeve signifies please?

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Thank you Andrew for this link. It is all a learning curve for me! Unfortunately the posted photo means colours cannot be identified, and couple this with the permutation of chevrons and I am left bewildered.

What do you think the chevron on the sleeve signifies please?

What can certainly be said is the wearer had accumulated between 0 and 12 months war service by the time the picture was taken. Without being able to identify accurately the original colour of the chevron, whether this was overseas or only in the US would be speculative unless further information is available.

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What can certainly be said is the wearer had accumulated between 0 and 12 months war service by the time the picture was taken. Without being able to identify accurately the original colour of the chevron, whether this was overseas or only in the US would be speculative unless further information is available.

Thank you Andrew for this.

Moving off topic slightly, are there any photos that be viewed of the 16th, or the Artillery, or the Supply Company, please?

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More info on 16th Field Artillery ...

4th Division (Regulars)

Nickname: Ivy Division

39th, 47th, 58th, 59th Infantry (Inf.)

13th, 16th, 77th Artillery (Art.)

10th, 11th, 12th Machine Gun (M. G.)

4th Engineers (Eng.)

Major Generals Commanding: John L. Hines, M. L. Hersey.

Engaged: Chateau Thierry, Ourcq Heights, Vesle, Argonne, Rhine.

Shoulder/Sleeve Insignia:

1a-small.jpg

Good Evening Cpl Coleman

I am moving off topic of Women in the US Military and wondering if there are there battle records for the engagements you mention, please?

Did the Germans used gas in each of these engagements as standard battle procedure. or was gas used in specific battles? With gas injuries I am guessing these would have been specific to a particular front, or gas injuries were fate/bad luck - some soldiers had injury whilst others in a nearby battle area did not?

Thank you for your help.

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Good Evening Cpl Coleman

I am moving off topic of Women in the US Military and wondering if there are there battle records for the engagements you mention, please?

Did the Germans used gas in each of these engagements as standard battle procedure. or was gas used in specific battles? With gas injuries I am guessing these would have been specific to a particular front, or gas injuries were fate/bad luck - some soldiers had injury whilst others in a nearby battle area did not?

Thank you for your help.

There is a pretty detailed history of the 4th Division in WWI - I have a copy of it.

Here is a basic outline: (attached)

This link to a short video might also be of interest.

You had asked earlier about the badge - the 4th Div Badge is 4 Ivy leaves - its a play on the roman numeral for 4 (IV) so the 4th Div were known as the IVY Division.

By 1918 gas was in widespread almost universal use by both sides in almost all engagements. There is some suggestion (and was a post war investigation) that US gas casualties were higher than they might have been in certain units - training, preparation and leadership were all examined as contributory causes although the findings were mixed. Most front line troops will have had some exposure to gas in this period.

Chris

4th Div.pdf

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