Originally Published: November 10, 2015 7:56 p.m.
City of Residence: Prescott
Branch of Service: Women's Auxilary Corps
Ms. Mary Shaw was at work when she heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. Her first thought was, "My two brothers will have to go to war so I need to go also." Against her mother's wishes, she signed up for what was then known as the Women's Auxiliary Corps, later becoming the Women's Army Corps. However, Ms. Shaw did not pass the physical. The minimum weight requirement was 100 pounds. Ms. Shaw weighed 98; she went home and ate bananas and drank milk and returned for a second try and passed. Ms. Shaw quickly found herself commissioned as a tech sergeant and on her way to Daytona Beach, Florida, to await orders for deployment.
Ms. Shaw remembers the long ocean voyage from New York to Lichfield, England, where she shared a stateroom with 18 other women. Rough seas and sickness made the voyage anything but pleasant. Next came the dark nights in London during the buzz bombs. The building Ms. Shaw was living in in London was leveled the day she left for orders to Normandy. Ms. Shaw vividly remembers watching the planes leave London heading toward France on June 6, 1944, D-Day - the beginning of the Normandy Invasion.
Ms. Shaw soon received orders to transfer to Normandy. She arrived by boat and spent the first night sleeping on the ground in the rain and cold. She remembers 21 days of constant rain, cold, K rations, one helmet of water a day, and sloshing through mud to her work site. From Normandy she was sent to Paris, but her jeep overturned on the way to the airfield and only two of her team made that flight; she was one of them.
Ms. Shaw had not been granted any leave during her two-year stint in the Army, so close to the end of the war she was granted a three-day pass to Marseille in the French Riviera. While in Marseille, she heard the news that the war had ended.
Both of Ms. Shaw's brothers were unharmed during the war, but her youngest brother was killed in a car accident while she was gone and it took five days for the news to reach her. That is her saddest memory. Her fondest memory was hearing the "Messiah" in Westminster Abbey in London.
Ms. Shaw lives in Prescott and says "she is very proud to have served her country although she doesn't think her mother ever forgave her."
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