Francestown woman's wartime exploits made into DVD
Sirkka Holm, now 93, served in Europe in the Women's Air Corps during World War II. (Nancy Bean Foster)
But it wasn't just Europe that bothered Holm as a young teenager, watching the world change.
"When Japan invaded Manchuria in 1930, I was 10 years old," she said. "My mother made me stop buying things at Woolworth's because they were made by the Japanese. She told me to remember 'all those Manchurian people, including little girls like you, who had been killed.'"
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, Holm didn't hesitate to help. She enlisted to answer phone calls from "watchers," people stationed along the coast to count planes as they flew over. She worked the 2 to 4 a.m. shift despite the difficulty catching a streetcar so early in the morning. But she wanted to do more, so she joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. The mission of the first iteration of WAACs was to replace the men in military offices so that they could fight overseas. But a few months after Holm enlisted, the WAACs abandoned the auxiliary function and became a part of the Army itself, its name shorted to WACs, or Women's Army Corps.
With the WACs, Holm endured boot camp, watched wounded men from the African and Italian fronts come into a hospital in North Carolina, and suffered dirty looks from housewives who thought it was improper for a woman to be in uniform. Undaunted by all of it, Holm agreed to travel to Europe aboard the harshly retrofitted Queen Mary — there were 15,000 troops aboard the ship, but lifeboats only for around 800, she said.
"I wrapped my head in blankets at night because I was afraid of the rats," she said. "When the bombs came, everyone else woke up, but I slept through it."
Copies of the video can be purchased at the library or by visiting www.francestown-nh.gov/pages/francestownnh_library/index. For more information call 547-2730.
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