Tuesday, June 24, 2008

IHS Press Examines an Army in Skirts

More than 150,000 women served in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in World War II. Although the majority of WACs were assigned to duties in the United States, several thousand received overseas assignments.

One of these women was Frances DeBra Brown from Danville, Indiana, who worked as a draftsman at American headquarters in London and Paris. An Army in Skirts: The World War II Letters of Frances DeBra, recently released by the IHS Press, contains the letters that Frances wrote to her family and letters from family and friends to Frances. The letters vividly detail her World War II service, beginning with basic training at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

After an assignment at an army air field in Marianna, Florida, where DeBra worked on the post newsletter, she was shipped overseas on the RMS Queen Mary. While in London she worked through buzz bomb and V-2 rocket attacks, slept in shelters fully clothed, and made the acquaintance of a young English woman and her family. Arriving in Paris two weeks after the city’s liberation, Frances witnessed the city’s devastation and the effects of war on the populace. During her stay in Paris she attended classes at the École des Beaux-Arts and received a marriage proposal.

Frances DeBra Brown, a teacher, artist, and art conservator, lives in Yazoo City, Mississippi. A prize-winning miniature artist, her work was accepted by the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers for its art show at The Mall Galleries, The Mall, London, England. She is a member of the American Institute for Conservation and the International Institute for Conservation and has cleaned and repaired hundreds of paintings and has done conservation work for the Mississippi State Capitol, the Hall of Governors, and the Old Capitol of Mississippi Museum.

An Army in Skirts costs $27.95 and is available from the Society's Basile History Market. To order, call (800) 447-1830 or order online at the History Market.

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