Hampton Roads during WWII: the WACs

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The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was formed in 1942; originally it was the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), but it was converted to active duty status in 1943. This made WACs unique to other women’s military groups, because it was the first time, and the only group, that integrated women into the United States Military. Around 150,000 women volunteered to serve in the WAC during World War II. Women were not allowed to fulfill ‘active combat’ roles in the military, but that still left over 250 support roles in the army to step into, from stenographer to map maker, photographer to truck driver, mechanic to switchboard operator. All of these positions were vital to the war effort. Many of the women who joined the WAC had a relative or sweetheart already serving, and hoped to bring their loved ones home sooner by aiding in the war effort. 

Most of these women served on the homefront, taking over office and other non-combat jobs so that men were able to go overseas to fight. These women were stationed in every type of state-side Army installation, working with the Army Service Forces, Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces, and in Army Hospitals.   Read more

Hampton Roads During WWII

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Overhead view of Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation

The Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation (HRPE) was the Army command structure and distribution port in Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was originally the Newport News Port of Embarkation when it was activated for World War I, and it was reactivated as the HRPE on 15 June 1942, in the wake of Pearl Harbor and the US’ entrance in World War II.

The main purpose of the Port was supporting the movement of personnel and cargo overseas, particularly to the European Theater of Operations (ETO). HRPE was the third largest US Army Transportation Corps port of embarkation during WWII. It served as a hub for the movements of millions of troops between 1942-1946.    Read more

Opening Day: What The Mariners’ Museum looked like in the 1930s

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Today, The Mariners’ Museum and Park’s exhibition space is roughly 90,000 square feet; but when the Museum opened to the public in November 1933, there was only a little over 12,000 square feet of gallery space. Sure, this is not a “small” space. All of our houses are probably significantly smaller, but this is a far cry from the originally intended Museum – a grand, sprawling, geometric affair. 

In April 1931, Archer Huntington stated, “My idea for the museum is a structure built not by architects but by engineers, and I think we can do this in the Yard. The moment you attempt to produce an art building on the usual Greek or Roman lines, you have made something which will clash entirely with the exhibits, which are purely scientific and mathematical.” To that end, the Museum’s projected budget for 1931 included $50,000 to “start museum”. The rest of that year’s budget was allocated to the dam, roads, and property maintenance. This vision would not come to pass, though, at least not as originally intended. Instead, the idea of a new building was put on hold (thanks Great Depression), and The Mariners’ Museum exhibits were put in a “temporary” gallery space located in the Museum’s service building.    Read more

“In the Land of Submarines”: Documenting Nishimura 3746

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Japanese submarine Nishimura 3746 in 2020

This week “in the Land of Submarines” we’re focusing on documenting the Japanese submarine Nishimura 3746. Previously we talked about its history and our initial assessment of the hull. All this activity is in preparation of moving the sub onto a custom cradle and to a new home. 

Since it’s arrival at the Museum in 1946, the sub has been displayed and stored outside. At 35 feet long and 22 tons, keeping it inside wasn’t an option at an institution where space is at a premium. As we prepare the sub for lifting one of our major steps is documenting its condition. After 82 years the hull is still sound, however we’re paying particular attention to the keel.    Read more

“In the land of Submarines”: History of Nishimura 3746

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The Mariners' Museum and Park
Nishimura 3746 in storage, 2020.

Does anyone else look at this submarine and think of the Beatles, or is it just me? If we painted it, I think it could definitely pass for a (less artsy) version of the Yellow Submarine.  

Well, soon, this object is going to undergo a pretty big move and we are majorly excited about it. To that end, we have been doing a lot of prep work to get the object ready, and we wanted to share it with you!   Read more