08 April 2007

RIP: Charlotte Winters

The last Yeoman (F) is gone.

ZUI this article from the New York Times:
Charlotte Winters, the last surviving woman to have served in the American armed forces in World War I and one of the first to enlist in the Navy, died Tuesday at her home in Boonsboro, Md. She was 109.


Mrs. Winters held the rank of Yeoman (F) — the F was for female — from March 1917 to July 1919, and served her entire enlistment as a clerk at the Naval Gun Factory at the Washington Navy Yard.

And from the Los Angeles Times:
With Winters' death, there are only four surviving U.S. veterans from the "war to end all wars," according to Scripps Howard News Service, which tracks living veterans of that war. Since the beginning of the year, six — including Winters — have died.

In 1916, in the midst of the war, Winters called on Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels in Washington, D.C., and asked why women weren't allowed to enlist.

"She convinced him that women could be in the Navy, and her visit is corroborated in his journals," said her niece, Kelly N. Auber. "While he did not admit that she directly influenced him, he did acknowledge that they had met."


Winters was assigned to the Washington Navy Gun Factory, also known as the Washington Navy Yard, where she worked as a typist for the duration of the war.

Within months after the end of the war, all of the enlisted women had been released from active duty. Winters, discharged in 1919 with the rank of yeoman 2nd class (F), returned to her former job as a civilian employee at the Washington Navy Yard, where she continued working as a typist through World War II and the Korean War. She retired in 1953.

Yeoman (F) First Class Amalie M. Townsley, USNRF, shows the white summer dress uniform for women, circa 1919.

Photo of Charlotte Winters on her 109th birthday from the Boston Globe.

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