In Africa |  Bohemia |  In the Army |  Writing

Alice as a newly commissioned WAC officer, 1943.

Alice in uniform, probably taken by Ting, 1945.

In 1942, a year after her divorce, Alice Davey joined the Women's Army Corps. She eventually went into air force photointelligence and was promoted to major, a high rank for a woman. She met her second husband, Huntington "Ting" Sheldon, in Paris, at the close of the war, when she was assigned to his project.

"Alice had been in all-female worlds before, but the WAAC included more kinds of women: schoolteachers, farmers, a sixteen-year-old from New Jersey who had delivered singing telegrams, a newspaper publisher, "a lady executive who probably made more than Eisenhower, and an opera singer and a girl from the Ozarks who was never on a train before coming here." Alice had never heard women joke so much, or be so raucous and lively. For fun, she started a rumor there was saltpeter in the food. She felt she was among free women for the first time.

"She was frankly stirred by the order of the camp: the drills, the ceremony, the military music played by an all-female band. She wrote in her journal of how affected she was by

    the long grey-green lines of women, for the first time in America, in the rain, under the flag, the sound of the band, far-off, close, then away again; the immortal fanny of our guide, leading on the right, moved and moving to the music—the flag again—first time I ever felt free enough to be proud of it; the band, our band, playing reveille that morning, with me on KP since 0430 hours, coming to the mess-hall porch to see it pass in the cold streets, under that flaming middle-western dawn; KP itself, and the conviction that one is going to die; the wild ducks flying over that day going to PT after a fifteen-mile drill, and me so moved I saluted them [...]"
Writing >

Alice retouching a photo. This shot and the one on the book's cover were probably taken in Antibes, where the army sent Ting and Alice on their honeymoon.