Veterans History Project: Frances DeBra Brown - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

09/25/08

Veterans History Project: Frances DeBra Brown

By Jennifer Martin
jennifer@wlbt.net

In April 1943, the United States was in the middle of World War Two. Frances DeBra wanted to support her country.

"A lot of the women worked anyway and I felt, finally, that I ought to get into it."

She left her job as a commercial artist and enlisted in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps. It had existed less than a year and provided women a way to use their talents for the war effort, without entering combat situations.  In a matter of months, the program was converted into the Women's Army Corp, giving women full military status. 

"This was a completely different section in the army. We were very isolated, special."

She was serving at an airfield in Florida when she got the call to go to Europe.

"They called from overseas for a draftsman. So we went overseas to london and I was there 5 or 6 months. This was right there in the heart of London when the buzzbombs and stuff were coming in. And we went right ahead working and I did drafting and that type of thing there."

Less than 10% of the WAC's were assigned to jobs like drafting, which were considered unusual for women at the time. Most were stenographers, typists, or clerks. 

"We lettered, and we did anything.. We drew all kinds of maps."

She became a three stripe sergeant, lettering detailed information on planning maps.

"It was above top secret.  Our door was locked all the time. They has a series of maps and the first ones said where they thought they'd be when they first got out and I had to make another map to show where they were."

She was transferred to Paris two weeks after it was liberated, and assigned to the Headquarters for Special Troops in the European Theater of Operations.

"I met somebody in Paris that I married later." She became Mrs. Halton brown after her honorable discharge in November 1945. The couple settled in Mississippi and had two daughters.

Frances DeBra Brown went on to continue her art career and published a book about her time as a WAC in World War Two. "I don't think we'll ever have another one like that."

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