3.5.11

Women Heroes of World War II

Tuesday, 3 May 2658 - Cambridge, UK

This was a workday for me, doing all those tedious forms the Institute of Time Travel insists we do. I decided to take a Temporal Tuesday break, and go somewhen outside of the Victorian age.

So, I read the delightful book Rosie gave me. Dr. Rose Murphy, from the University of Ohio, is a Temporal Anthropologist studying mid-20th century America. Her first project was working in a ship-building plant during World War II just so she could call herself “Rosie the Riveter.”

The book is the 21st century classic Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue by Kathryn J. Atwood. Yes, I do read things other than Victorian, although not in the past, of course. Wouldn’t want anyone to find a history book of the future. Someone might be tempted to change history.

I must say, it is an brilliant book. In an era full of courageous women, Ms. Atwood tried to give a nice cross section, from movie stars to housewives. The book is divided up into countries, with an introduction telling the general experience of all women in each nation. She begins with Germany and explains how an advanced civilization could have sunk to such barbarism. It’s a warning to us all.

Among these amazing women are:

Marlene Dietrich: The German-born Hollywood actress who entertained in the USO on the front lines. (And found herself suddenly behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge.) What isn’t as well known is she worked with the OSS (predecessor to the CIA). She was America’s “Tokyo Rose” to the German Army, broadcasting to her countrymen, begging them to quit following a madman.

Marlene Dietrich, motion picture actress, autographs the cast on
 the leg of Tec 4 Earl E. McFarland at a United States hospital
 in Belgium, where she has been entertaining the GIs.
Tuttle, November 24, 1944
Josephine Baker: The poor African-American dancer who became the Toast of Paris. She repaid her adopted country by risking her life for France as a spy.

Maria von Maltzan: The German Countess who hid 60 Jews in Berlin under the very nose of Hitler and the German High Command.

Noor Inayat Khan: The delicate Indian princess who gave up a career as a children’s writer to live in occupied Paris, so she could operate a radio to transmit messages to London for the SOE resistance group.

Andree de Jongh: The Belgian nursing student who established the Comet Line, the escape route from Brussels, Belgium to a British pickup point in Spain. It was 1,200 miles long, mostly through German occupied country. She made the trip 32 times, escorting 118 Allied servicemen trapped behind enemy lines.

Irena Sendler: The Polish social worker who helped rescue 2,500 Jewish children from the infamous Warsaw ghetto.

Diet Eman: The 20-year-old Dutch bank employee who formed a resistance group with her fiancée, serving as a courier to help hide Jews and downed Allied pilots.

Nancy Wake: The New Zealand born journalist turned spy for the British, named “White Mouse” by the Gestapo who could never catch her.

This is only a sampling of these amazing ladies. Few of them were adventurers, just ordinary women thrust into extraordinary circumstances because they couldn't ignore their countrymen.

Nurses of a field hospital who arrived in France via England
and Egypt after three years service.
Parker, August 12, 1944
The book is not your normal dry as dust history book (even I find some of those boring.) The book reads like a series of adventure stories, since that is what they are. Fast paced and keeping you on the edge of your seat, Ms. Atwood gives our heroines the thrilling retelling they all deserve.

I would give anything to encounter any of these fine ladies. Pity the Institute of Time Travel will only allow me into the Victorian Age. Still Women Heroes of World War II made me feel like I had met them all.

Read excerpts from Women Heroes of World War II

Order the hard cover book from Amazon

Order the ebook from Booku

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