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Canadian Women's Army

The Canadian Women's Army Corps was a non-combatant branch of the Canadian Army for women established during World War II to release men from those non-combatant roles in the Canadian armed forces as part of expanding Canada's war effort. Most women served in Canada but some served overseas, most in roles such as secretaries, mechanics, cooks and so on. The CWAC was finally abolished as a separate corps in 1964 when women were fully integrated into the Canadian armed forces. The headquarters of the CWAC was based in Goodwin House in Ottawa.
The Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) was authorized on August 13, 1941, in response to a shortage of personnel caused by the increase in the size of Canada's navy, army and air force. At first the organisation was called the Canadian Women's Auxiliary Corps and was not an official part of the armed forces. On March 13, 1942 the women were inducted into the Canadian Army and became the Canadian Women's Army Corps. They wore a cap badge of three maple leaves, and collar badges of the goddess Athena.
A February 1943 CWAC advertisement in the Edmonton Journal noted that prospective recruits had to be in excellent health, at least five feet tall and 105 pounds (or within 10 pounds above or below the standard of weight laid down in medical tables for different heights), with no dependants, a minimum of Grade 8 education, aged 18 to 45, and a British subject, as Canadians were at that time. Since women were not allowed to enter in combat of any kind the CWACs worked as secretaries, clerks, canteen workers, vehicle drivers and many other non-combat military jobs. They were only paid 2/3 of what the men were paid in the same occupation (this figure later became 4/5).
CWACs served overseas, first in 1942 in Washington DC and then with the Canadian Army in the UK. In 1944 CWACs served in Italy and in 1945 in north-west Europe, usually as clerks in headquarters establishments. After VE Day, more served with Canadian occupation forces in Germany. In all, approximately 3000 served Canada overseas. While no members of the CWAC were killed due to enemy action, four were wounded in a German V-2 missile attack on Antwerp in 1945. By the end of the war 21,624 CWACs had served in the ranks. In August 1946 the CWACs were disbanded. The Canadian Women's Army Corps was redesignated The Canadian Women's Army Corps on 22 Mar 1948. The Canadian Women's Army Corps reverted to the Canadian Women's Army Corps on 18 Apr 1955. The CWACS were disbanded for good in 1964.
* Jean Bruce, Back the Attack! Canadian Women During the Second World War - At Home and Abroad, Toronto, Macmillan of Canada, 1985.
* W. Hugh Conrod, Athene, Goddess of War: The Canadian Women's Army Corps - Their Story, Dartmouth, Writing and Editorial Services, 1984. 
* Geneviève Auger and Raymonde Lamothe, De la poêle à frire à la ligne de feu: La vie quotidienne des Québécoises pendant la guerre ‘39 - ‘45, Montréal, Boréal Express, 1981. 
* Carolyn Gossage, Greatcoats and Glamour Boots: Canadian Women at War (1939-1945), Toronto, Dundurn Press, 1991. 
* Ruth Roach Pierson, "They're Still Women After All": The Second World War and Canadian Womanhood, Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1986. 
* Kathleen Robson Roe, War Letters from the C.W.A.C., Toronto, Kakabeka Publishing Co, 1975.

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