Ruth Chaney, 1944
A WAC Remembers WWII
By BARTH GRAYSON
Publisher, White County Record
As a special pre-Independence Day "warmup," former WAC Ruth Chaney presented her WWII scrapbook and memoirs to the membership and guests of the White County Historical Society Monday night, June 28, 1999. The Gerald Parish Courtroom was aglow with grand memories of times spent in the Womens Army Auxiliary Corps. This division of the U.S. Army was the first to accept women.
Miss Ruth was proud of her rich Southern heritage and the fact that both of her grandfathers had volunteered their services to the Confederacy during the War Between The States. A lot of personal sacrifices were made during the Civil War as the Southland defended their borders and principles. She joined at the nearest recruiting station, which was at Jonesboro, Arkansas. Miss Ruth Blanton received her orders through the mail in September of 1942. She was to report to Fort Des Moines, Iowa, for basic training. Ruth was tough, as she had been raised between two brothers on their dairy farm just outside of Bald Knob.
Miss Ruth shared some lighter moments of what she thought about the new WAC uniforms and the food from the mess hall. They had to wear their hair "neat and well above the collar." Basic training was a challenge. Her KP duties proved to be very interesting. She learned to drill her squad pretty smoothly. After basic training, Ruth went into Army Administration School. It was here that she learned the Armys method of daily reports, communication, importance of secrecy and to guard secret documents.
December of 1942 was her first Christmas away from home. Her class soon graduated and they were intended to replace the men who were working in offices. She was then transferred to Fort Custer, Michigan.
PFC Blanton would soon ship out to an undisclosed destination overseas. She had asked for this assignment. It was in the late spring of 1944 that she actually was shipped out of a new York harbor. After five days at sea, she arrived in Scotland and later that day at Waterloo Station in London. A short story/review of her trials and tribulations cannot do her recollections justice. Anyone that is truly interested in reading a copy of Miss Ruths full story can obtain a copy by joining the White County Historical Society or by contacting Miss Ruth Chaney directly. She is the executive director of the Bald Knob Area Chamber of Commerce, located in the Bald Knob Municipal Building. She usually keeps office hours from 98 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Miss Ruth goes on to tell of the sounds and sights of war. She met so many interesting people and documented these memories as well. It was her time spent canvassing the beautiful countrysides that really caught my fancy. She made very good use of her leisure time.
You couldnt help but see all of these special times come back to life once again as she narrated through her story. The various officers which she worked with along the way have stayed with her throughout her lifetime. Miss Ruth has a very sharp mind and is quite witty. Her writing skills were and are very colorful and thorough. Through her words, you can almost taste the chocolate and K-rations and feel the olive drab clothing she describes. It was evident that she enjoyed her English "tea time" which was usually observed and used to mingle with people from other offices.
Her office personnel was air-lifted to Paris, France. Versailles must have been a very interesting place, having such a rich history and all. She spoke of Napoleons stables and how the primitive building had since been converted over to house their offices. Their living quarters had housed Napoleons troops. She got to visit Louis XIVs Palace and gardens. The Hall of Mirrors was among other interesting places. The midnight mass of Christmas 1944 spent in the Palace Chapel is still the most memorable Christmas of her adult life. She also recalls a home-cooked meal as a guest of a girlfriend and her French family, where she enjoyed fried rabbit. After the Enola Gay had done its job and she Japanese had surrendered, Miss Ruth was then deployed to Berlin, Germany. She got to see the Chancellory, where Hitler and his last followers committed suicide. She showed a snapshot of herself and a Russian guard who was on duty at the Chancellory. A weeks leave was enjoyed on the French Riviera. She recalled enjoying seeing the Alps from her C-47 flight and the blue waters of the Mediterranean.
Upon arrival back in the States, they were greeted with live bands playing patriotic songs, with flags and streamers waving. She recalled having a strange sensation as she took all of this in, as if she were watching it all from another dimension. She received her treasured Honorable Discharge, which was dated October 21, 1945. She received $300 for her "mustering out" pay. The southbound training delivered Miss Ruth safely back to the Bald Knob Depot.