Elizabeth Choy (1910-2006)
is considered a war heroine in Singapore. During World War II, she supplied
medicine and messages to POWs interned in Changi Prison during the Japanese
occupation of the island.
She was born in present-day Malaysia and went to
study in Singapore, after which she pursued a career in education. During the
war she served as a volunteer nurse with the Medical Auxiliary Service, as well
as a second lieutenant in the women’s auxiliary arm of the Singapore Volunteer
Corps. She delivered packages to the prisoners even at great risk to herself,
and received numerous honours for her humanitarian work, including being made a
member of the Order of the British Empire.
Lakshmi Sahgal (1914-2012) was a
revolutionary during the independence movement of India. She was an officer in
the Indian National Army and was known countrywide as ‘Captain Lakshmi’.
medicine and received her diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics in 1939. During
the independence movement, she commanded an all-female regiment of the army.
She founded the All India Democratic Women’s Association in 1981.
Sheila Widnall (b. 1938) was the US
Secretary of the Air Force between 1993 and 1997. This made her the first woman
to hold this position, and the first to lead an entire branch of the military
in the Department of Defense.
She graduated from MIT and later became
a Professor of Aeoronautics and Astronautics at the same institution. She
became President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in
Mary Hallaren (1907-2005) was the first woman to officially join the US Army. Other women had joined before on several occasions, but only by pretending to be men.
She began working as a teacher, but in 1942 joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAC). By 1947, she achieved the rank of colonel, and became director of the WAC. She received several medals, such as the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star, for her service.
Mildred McAfee (1900-1994) was the first
director of WAVES: Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service, created in
1942, which grew to have as many as 80,000 members enlisted. She was also the
first woman commissioned in the US Naval Reserve, and the first to be awarded
the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.
In addition to her
military service, she also served as director of Wellesley College, and
co-chair of the Women’s Committee for Civil Rights. She was also a US delegate