WAC Obstacle Course

obstacle courseSource: United States Army in World War II: The Women’s Army Corps by Mattie Treadwell (Published by the Department of the Army in 1954)

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words–

Whew, Times have changed since the 1940s. Woman’s cloths back then could be so limiting (though they obviously didn’t totally prevent WACs from doing rigorous physical activities during boot camp).

Aunt Marian went to Fort Oglethorpe for boot camp. This photo was taken at another base, but it gives clues about what her boot camp experience would have been like.

I remembered seeing this picture when Shore Acres wrote a comment several days ago that included a link to an absolutely incredible video showing WACs at Fort Oglethorpe wearing dresses while practicing judo. Be sure to take a look at it.

35 thoughts on “WAC Obstacle Course”

    1. That would be interesting to know. They supposedly were trying to be really forward thinking with the WACs, yet in hindsight, a lot of the ideas seem really strange.


      1. I saw that your blog was suggested on WP as one I might like so I popped over here and found that I was no longer following. I signed up again. Hopefully just a computer glitch.


      2. Thanks for letting me know. It’s bad when people aren’t getting notices. This is really strange. I’m trying to figure out what the problem is–but so far don’t think I’ve quite figured out what is causing the problem. I ‘m going to have to dig deeper into the settings.


        1. Sheryl, it’s up to the follower to check how often she wants to receive the notices, which I thought I did–but sometimes things just happen *out there* in cyberspace 🙂 Then again, I’m getting to the age where brain and eyesight are wreaking some havoc with what I think I did! Add to the mix, if you believe: Mercury is in retrograde (communications at risk!) Happy to have caught up!


  1. Just proves a woman can do anything a man can do, but while wearing high heels. In this case, replace high heels with fitted skirt. It would probably be easier in high heels!!


  2. I think the dress code reflects the rigidity of the armed forces mentality, especially given the mores of the time. Certainly (some) women were wearing pants in everyday life. I remember photos of Carole Lombard and of course Katherine Hepburn in the late 30s and early 40s. (Despite my moniker here, I live in Levis).


    1. I agree! Clothes can have so much influence on what a woman can do. The military bureaucracy was really struggling to figure out who the WACs were and what their role should be.


  3. This photo, and the video, are astounding! To expect women to engage in this kind of skills training but hamper them with skirts and, in the judo film, hose! What a long way we’ve come. . . .


  4. This surely was a military thing. Here’s a photo of my mom and her high school basketball team in the 1930s. I think it was 1934. (Mom is second from left.) Clearly, there was no playing in skirts in Iowa at the time.

    Maybe some of the Army brass weren’t happy about the women, and decided to make it as hard as possible on them. Or, it could have been the natural conservatism of the military. That’s not a bad thing at all, but it can produce some interesting results.


    1. Thanks for sharing the picture. I’m amazed how modern the basketball team’s outfits look.

      It’s intriguing to think about why the WACs had to dress like this when dong obstacle courses and judo. I’ve read that the army was really worried that the women won’t be considered “respectable” (whatever that means)–and maybe they were required to dress conservativingly to show their respectability. (Though it seems like someone could get an eye-full when the women did the obstacle course in skirts.)

      And, thank you for giving me the idea for this post with the judo video link.


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