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High School Victory Corps


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My parents were both teenagers during WWII... not old enough to join the fight, but old enough to know there was a war on. My Mother grew up on an apple farm, so she was instantly part of the war effort. My Dad grew up in a smal town, but ended up helping out with the harvest with his farming cousins.


They fell into these roles because of family obligations. But there was an organized, systematic effort to bring America's youth into the war effort that was known as the High School Victory Corps. We've mentioned this in passing a couple times but what exactly was this organization.


I stumbled on the following article this afternoon researching a patch that I though may have belonged to the HSVC:


"As Americans became more involved in the escalation of World War II, volunteer organizations began to form. Seeing the need for high school students to become involved, Commissioner of Education John W. Studebaker, on September 25, 1942, upon the recommendation of his advisory Wartime Commission, established the Victory Corps.


The purpose of this student organization was to prepare high school students to aid in the war effort on the homefront and the frontlines. Both girls and boys from white and African American schools participated. In order to be a member, a student needed to participate in a physical fitness program, enroll in a war-effort class, and volunteer for at least one extracurricular wartime activity. Engaging in a physical fitness program was essential because military officials were alarmed by the poor condition of recent enlistments. At the advent of the war, high school curriculums in Maryland had been altered to accommodate war-effort classes. By modifiying industrial arts and vocational-industrial classes, students could learn about machinery, fundamentals of electricity, radios, canning of food, aeronautics, first aid, and other pertinent topics.


Due to its proximity to Washington, D.C., Maryland had the first three Victory Corps programs: Ellicott City High School in Howard County and Sherwood High School and Montgomery Blair Senior High School, both in Montgomery County. As the war progressed, 126 of the 145 Maryland county high schools and all of Baltimore City’s high schools had established Victory Corps.


As the war drew to a close, the Victory Corps program was phased out beginning in June of 1944."




From the same site we have:


"Montgomery Blair High school Victory Corps. Victory Corps girls of Montgomery Blair high school in Silver Spring, Maryland stood erect when "superior officers" reviewed their maneuvers. Students wear their uniforms three times a week and have their extra- curricular activities directed towards war work."







"High school Victory Corps. To release housewives in Silver Spring, Maryland, for war work, girls in the Victory Corps of Montgomery Blair High School operate a day nursery. Besides helping the community, the project ties in with the school's home economics course."


Notice the V device on the overseas cap.





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From the other side of the country:


"High school Victory Corps. Members of the Victory Corps of Roosevelt High School, Los Angeles, California, have an opportunity to learn first aid. Here, one of the groups practice on a classmate."




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The following photos can be found through National Archives.


"Victory Corps, tomorrow's defenders of liberty. Standing at ease are uniformed high school Victory Corps girls on the rifle team. Riflery is one of the many war-time training activities offered by the Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, California." (formation with drill rifles)


"Victory Corps, tomorrow's defenders of liberty. Training in marksmanship helps girls at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, California, develop into responsible women. Part of Victory Corps activities there, rifle practice encourages girls to be accurate in handling firearms." (shooter in prone position with spotter)


"High school Victory Corps. These two sharpshooters are members of the girls' rifle team of Roosevelt High School, Los Angeles, California. Rifle practice is one of the phases of the activities of the school's Victory Corps." (shooter in kneeling position with spotter)


"High school Victory Corps. This sharpshooter is captain of the girls' rifle team of Roosevelt High School, Los Angeles, California. Rifle practice is one of the phases of the activities of the school's Victory Corps." (close up of prone shooter)


"High school Victory Corps. At Roosevelt High School, Los Angeles, California, one of the Victory Corps activities is the girls' rifle team, which practices on the rifle range in the school's basement." (looking down range.... inside with wall lockers!)






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It truly is amazing what you can find on line these days.


This site provides a book you can read on-line that is a compilation of WWII High School Victory Corps pamphlets and directives. Rather than a straigh PDF, you can actually turn the pages as you read!




Here are a couple photos I thought were particularly interesting:



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Excellent Posts. The High School Victory Corps is a fascinating story. I have some items and info from Schlastic Weekly Reader Magazines which featured material for the Victory Corps in its publication. Another source for homefront life during the war are high school yearbooks from 1942 - 1945 that feature not only Victory Corps information but other student actions to aid the war effort.



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Boys trained in the fundamentals of navigation may become technicians in the armed service, Los Angeles, Calif. Thomas Graham, a member of the Victory Corps at Polytechnic High School, is learning to use a sextant to determine longitude and latitude (LOC)


Photographer Alfred T. Palmer, Sept 1942. Library of Congress through Flickr.com




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Some of the publications included in the reference mentioned above:




The plain V is for General Membership.


The one with the eagle is Land Service Division.


The one with the gear is Production Service Division.


The one with rounded cross is Community Service Division.


The one with the prop is the Air Service Division.


The one with the anchor is the Sea Service Division.


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One of the main goals of the High School Victory Corps was youth physical fitness. Apparently the Armed Forces in 1942 were experiencing a higher than expected reject rate among recruits due to poor physical conditioning.


This manual not only encouraged schools to conduct excercise classes, but the building of full scale military style obstacle courses.








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From the same source, conventional physical education and sports were also encouraged. Needless to say, this program proabaly did a lot to develop sports programs for women during the 1940's in public education.



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General Apathy

Hi Gil, I am just sat down with a morning cup of coffee and found your post, fantastic stuff you have put on here, I will definatly be sat down later this evening and reading it in full and checking out all the links you have posted. :thumbsup:


You mention how interesting it is what you can find on the internet, well this is one of those interesting things you have pulled together yourself and is now out there to be found. ;) :thumbsup:


Cheers ( Lewis )

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

My knowledge of high school victory corps history is limited but thought I would share photos of a 1943 dated victory corps military drill instructors manual and insignia that I have had for some time. Notice the design with the crossed rifles. I have bought/sold/collected patches for 35+ years and have only found the one I have shown. The small pins are plastic and made by whitehead & hoag.





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:w00t: I really love those patches. I have never been able to find them though. Nice, nice collection. That along with the book is a great display.



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That Military Drill insignia is a new one on me.


I don't believe I've eveer seen it in US Government publications on the High School Victory Corps.


I wonder if this was something that was strictly sponsored by the Americann Legion as some sort of add on program.


I love the cover of the manual stating it was prepared by the National Americanism Commission!

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  • 6 months later...

Came across this land production service high school victory corps cap today. The patch is not the standard embroidered type but flocked on felt.



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  • 5 years later...

High School Victory Corps Instructor patch. I have a felt blue disc with the rifles on it too. These are sometimes found on a red V.

This is the only one that I have seen in 9 years of collecting home front items.


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  • 3 months later...

This is a great thread!

I know why this was called the "Greatest Generation".

I have some of the 'V' patches, but not nearly all of them.

Can you imagine in our country, today, trying form an organization like this?


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