By Anne Bradley Carnevali, Lakeland, Florida
I had two brothers in the service during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Navy. I joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in May 1942. We all felt we were doing our part for the war effort.
My basic training took place at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. I was promoted to corporal after basic and sent to Daytona Beach, where I was eventually made a drill sergeant.
Early in 1943, we set sail for places unknown, leaving from Staten Island, New York. I was calling my company to board ship when an Associated Press photographer snapped my picture.
Our destination turned out to be North Africa. There were 90 of us young women, assigned to various jobs in many departments. We lived in a convent in El Biar, a suburb of Algeria.
Being on the recruitment poster brought me some notoriety. During my time in the service, I met General Omar Bradley and Miss Pearl Mesta, the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, and had a few lovely lunches with Ernie Pyle, the famous war correspondent.
Not long after our honeymoon, I contracted malaria and came home to the States. I spent several weeks in the Halloran Hospital on Long Island, New York, until my discharge on Aug. 31, 1943.
Editor’s Note: About Anne, Ernie Pyle wrote, “The most soldierly of all the WACs I’ve seen is Anne Bradley of Philadelphia. Furthermore, she is so good-looking it makes you hurt.
But Anne didn’t need Ernie Pyle or even that poster to help her career in the WAC. She was competent enough on her own. Anne was one of three WAC sergeants selected to lead the women in a parade in North Africa, the first time American women soldiers paraded on foreign soil.
In addition, Anne was promoted to staff leader, the equivalent of staff sergeant, which made her the second highest-ranking non-commissioned WAAC in Africa.