Hidden Heroes of WWII (Part IV): DeKalb County WASP

DeKalb County WASP unit
Clipping from Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, 12 Sep 1940, p. 2.

The Women’s Ambulance Safety Patrol, or W.A.S.P., should not be confused with the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII. These home front WASPs were prepared to serve their community and country if an emergency ever arose. They were prepared to drive and service ambulances, provide first aid and canteen units, and more. The Women’s Ambulance Safety Patrol was first established by a group of Rockford women in the spring of 1940. This was the first women’s ambulance program in the country. In a letter to Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt in February 1941, Rockford Lt. Mary E. Trosper wrote, “We are preparing fervently for the time when we shall be called upon to defend America. […] These women are put through rigid courses of training in first-aid, military drilling, auto mechanics, convoy transportation and in some units, the use of firearms. Our ultimate aim is to interest every able-bodied woman to prepare systematically for the defense of America in the homes, in the schools and in industries. Who can foresee what tasks will fall the lot of American women in the coming year? Whatever they be, the Women’s Ambulance Safety Patrol will be adequately prepared to fit snugly in the great wheel of National Defense and will cooperate to the utmost in the organization and training of American women for American defense.”  Continue reading “Hidden Heroes of WWII (Part IV): DeKalb County WASP”

Hidden Heroes of WWII (Part III): DeKalb County Cadet Nurses

The United States and the world is currently facing a pandemic like we’ve never seen before. Some have said that society has not been unified under a single cause like this since WWII. So today, thank and support healthcare workers who are on the front lines of this epidemic. Then, remember the nurses, doctors, and nurses’ aides who also served in crucial roles during WWII.

To read the previous post about DeKalb County women during WWII, please click here.

Continue reading “Hidden Heroes of WWII (Part III): DeKalb County Cadet Nurses”

Hidden Heroes of WWII (Part II): DeKalb County women on the home front

This is part II of an ongoing series to honor women from DeKalb County, Illinois who served during WWII. This part of the series will focus on the efforts of women on the home front. In the next few posts, I will highlight several local women-led organizations that supported the war effort and the community during WWII, including the American Red Cross, the Women’s Ambulance Safety Patrol, the Cadet Nursing Corps, and the Volunteer Nurses’ Aide Corps. 


During WWII, huge efforts and sacrifices on the home front contributed to American victory. Women in particular contributed to the war effort in unprecedented ways. For the first time, women became enlisted members of the U.S. military, and the almost 150 DeKalb County women veterans were honored in part one of this honor roll. On the home front, there were scores more who filled war jobs in local factories, joined local organizations, donated blood, organized fundraisers and scrap drives, knitted clothing and wrapped surgical dressings, planted victory gardens, worked on local farms, and more. Women adapted to rationing by carpooling, walking, canning homegrown produce, and going without new stockings, shoes, and kitchen wares. Continue reading “Hidden Heroes of WWII (Part II): DeKalb County women on the home front”

A Patriotic Parade on Lincoln Highway

Happy Independence Day, America! Although this photo was probably not taken on the 4th of July, these children are certainly in a patriotic mood! This postcard was produced between 1903-1905, and shows a parade on Lincoln Highway during an unknown event (possibly Decoration Day?). The Daily Chronicle building, which still stands on the north side of Lincoln Highway near First Street in downtown DeKalb, can be seen in the background.

Postcard - DeKalb - Lincoln Hwy - 1904

(This scanned postcard is part of my growing collection of postcards from DeKalb County, IL. See the start of my digital collection here.

DeKalb County’s Gold Stars, 1919

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My copy of the 1919 book, “An Honor Roll…”

About 1,000 men from DeKalb County, Illinois, answered the call to serve their country between 1917-1919 during World War I. About 65 of them died during the war and never made it back home. The following pages are from “An Honor Roll, containing a pictorial record of the gallant and courageous men from DeKalb County, Illinois, U.S.A., who served in the Great War 1917 – 1918 – 1919,” published by the DeKalb Chronicle Publishing Company shortly after the conclusion of the war. These men are among the “gallant and courageous men” who did not make it home. They had earned their families a “Gold Star,” which was a designation that started in WWI, and denoted that the family had lost a loved one in combat. This was a visual symbol to the community that the family had lost a loved one in the war. (Learn more about the Gold Stars tradition here.) This Memorial Day, I’d like to remember the service of these men who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. Continue reading “DeKalb County’s Gold Stars, 1919”