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The 1940s bring memories of tearful train-station good-byes, war bond drives, ration cards and much-feared telegrams. To the soldiers, sailors and airmen of that era, World War II was not just a far-off conflict, it was a reality. These young men were in the forefront in war-torn Europe and the battle grounds of the Pacific.

A photo of Coast Guard spars But for the women left behind, the reality of war was also close to home. These mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and fiancées of the brave young men wanted to do their part too and became soldiers, sailors and airmen - and even Coast Guardsmen in the global war.

On Nov. 23, 1942, legislation was approved creating yet another arm of the U.S. Coast Guard, one that would pave the way for Coast Guard women of today - The U.S. Coast Guard Women's Reserve, also known as the SPARs.

Although the Coast Guard had done many jobs since 1790 without taking women into its enlisted or officer ranks, the onset of a world war changed the course of history for women in all the armed services. When World War II came, the Coast Guard and the other services found themselves in great need of more men at sea and more troops on foreign soil. They acknowledged that filling U.S. shore jobs with women would allow more men to serve elsewhere and hasten the war effort.

Read more on the SPAR's at the CG history Woman's Reserve website.

These are some photos given to Station Chatham by Sandi Eldredge, whose mother, Anita June "Freeman" Eldredge, was a pioneer SPAR during the 1940's.  We were able to meet two SPAR's who attended the Chatham Reunion, Ruth Farham and Janet McIlvin.  They were both SPAR's in the early 1940's.  Absolutely fabulous women, a great credit to the Reserve SPAR's.

photo Palm Beach "Basic Training"

photo Palm Beach(?)

photo Chatham SPARS completing range training on Chatham Beach.  Anita Eldredge is the fourth SPAR from the right.

photo More beach shooting in front of Chatham Light

photo Range instruction at Chatham Lighthouse Beach.  Anita Eldredge is on the left pointing the gun.

photo More range instruction

photo I am trying to confirm this is the porch of the barracks that were built behind Chatham Light in the 1940's.  Anita Eldredge is on far right next to the porch post.

photo Chatham SPARS inside the Keeper's quarters?  Anita Eldredge is standing in back row far right.

photo This must be the crew from Chatham Station.

photo Chatham SPARS on the mess deck.  Anita Eldredge is on the left.

photo Chatham SPARS working the radio's.  Anita Eldredge is sitting at the controls on the right.

photo Chatham SPAR, I think the typewriter in the picture is still in the OIC's office at Chatham.

photo Famous three pistol SPAR Anita Eldredge.


Last Modified 1/12/2016