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"Men did have a feeling that you should not be there, so you had to get used to the idea that you were not their favorite." (Audio Interview, 16:10)

   Essie Dell O'Bryant Woods
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War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: WAC (Women's Army Corps)
Unit: 6888 Central Postal Directory
Service Location: Paris, Loudun and Rouen, France; Birmingham, England
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Essie Woods and her sisters, one older and one younger, all enlisted in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps in 1943, but Essie was turned away for being underweight. After a month of reverse dieting, she passed the test, though she had missed out on training with her siblings. She got a chance to serve overseas in the waning days of the war, working at a postal unit that followed the troops from England into liberated France. Along the way, she endured primitive living conditions, saw first-hand the devastation of the war in France, and made many lifelong friends.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (37 min.)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Enlisting in the WAAC with her sisters. (02:56) Finding out she had been assigned to overseas duty; working in a postal directory close to the troops in England and France. (01:55) Going to Europe on the liner Il de France, outmaneuvering the U boats; feeling fear only a retrospect. (01:07)
Duties at the mail center; living conditions. (02:44) Dealing with the dominant male environment; relationships with her officers; encounters with lesbians. (04:04) Assessing her time in the service and the improvements made for women and blacks. (01:48)

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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