Newsletter  January 2002
Arbuthnot(t) Family Association
USA Branch 

Officers of the USA Arbuthnot Family Association: As elected in Omaha, NE October, 2000
Chairman:   Allan Arbuthnot
Chair-elect:  Caroline Burtt
Vice-Chairman:  Russell Parker
Treasurer:  John Orsborn,
Secretary:  Phyllis Jones,
Newsletter editor:  Vickie Jones,
Genealogist:  Betsy Henry,

Website Administrator: Lani Erie

A word of Warning:
According to the by-laws passed in Omaha in October 2000, no newsletters will go out to members after a member is six (6) months in arrears.   As a courtesy, we are sending this newsletter out to members who have paid through 2000.  To renew your dues, please contact John Orsborn, Association treasurer.   He will contact Vickie when dues have been received.  The officers' addresses are on the first page of this newsletter.  Please remember to stay current; dues are due every January.

This is your newsletter!  Send us any information you want included: marriages, promotions or fun stories of extended family.  We will print as many as space allows.

A Word of Thrift:
Since it is in our Scottish heritage to save money wherever possible and the internet seems to be "the communication tool of the future" I was wondering if anyone would be interested in receiving the newsletter electronically, in lieu of the "snail-mail" system.  A blind listing will be established for this purpose.   Please respond to your Newsletter Editor, Vickie Jones.  Her email and snail mail addresses are at the front of this newsletter.  If e-mailing, please use "electronic newsletter" as the subject.  (I tend to delete things if I don't recognize the sender!) Thanks Again!

In Memoriam
The deaths of several members have recently come to our attention. We extend our sympathy to the families of these Arbuthnots:

Elizabeth “Betty” Knake of Pittsburgh, PA, Table 2; Mother of Rachel Haines;
29 Jan 2024 – 25 Nov 2023

James Brader Arbuthnot of Orange, CA, Table 5; Father of Joan Kelsey Arbuthnot;
8 June 2024 – 21 April 2024

Verda Henderson Stiles of WA and OR, Table 1; 31
Dec 1917 – 9 Sept 2023

Raymond J. Arbuthnot of Upland, CA, Table 1; 20 Nov 2023 – 20 Sept 2023 Husband of Mary Kay Damsen, Father of Gay Garringer and Nancy Herrington; Past vice chairman of USA Arbuthnot Family Association

Ruth Ballou Kramer of Etna, CA, Table 1;Daughter of Melissa Arbuthnot Ballou; Died one day before her 95th birthday, 28 Sept 2023 – 27 Sept 2023

John D. Fansher of Arvada, CO; 22 July 2023 – Nov 2001; Husband of Phyllis Arbuthnot Fansher, Table 1

       We wish to thank NW Life & Times, 1732 Iowa Street Bellingham, Washington, 98226 for permission to reprint the following article as published in the November 2000 issue.  Special thanks to Dyas A. Lawson for the great article.

"Just Doing Our Jobs"
Women’s Army Corps Pioneered during World War II
by Dyas A. Lawson  of NW•Life &Times

Had the gesture been in vogue 55 years ago, Marjorie (Byram) Russo would have slammed her fist into the air and shouted, “Yessss!” when the American military opened its doors to women.
Other than nursing and telephony personnel, “there had never been women in the military before World War II. I immediately wanted to join the Army because they were sending women overseas and the other branches weren’t,” the Mount Vernon resident recalls. “In the Army, at least you had that possibility. We women felt as responsible to contribute to the war effort as the men did.” Many did so by performing “men’s” jobs at home; others joined the military.

Since the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps was new, many of its tenets and systems were of the wing-it variety. Women who enlisted could be married but could have no dependents; men, who had a much higher chance of dying in wartime, had no such restriction. Officers in both the WAAC, later the WAC, and the regular Army were unsure how to handle this new, emerging branch, but did the best they could. “The pattern was set at this time for the women’s army,” Russo comments. “Because they had a group of compliant women, there were no problems. In those days, we didn’t agitate.”
Early female recruits were sent to former cavalry post Ft. Des Moines, Iowa, for training. The first women there slept in the stables, Russo says. They learned marching in formation and other military necessities before they were assigned, much as has always been done. That October 1942, she was part of a select company sent to Allied headquarters in Algiers. Forming their own self-sufficient unit, the women were chosen for their ability to do office work using heavy manual typewriters.
Off to the front Russo’s company shipped out from the Brooklyn Navy Yards on B Deck of the Santa Paula and were segregated from male troops on the ship. She recalls the young women carried their own barracks bags, which was a hardship for the smaller girls, since the bags often weighed 50 pounds or more. That, Russo smiles, was another instance where the male planners missed some details with the women’s units.

“They were making this up as they went,” she reflects. “Often, they weren’t too sure what to do with us and the plans were not always good, but we managed. We all had a strong sense of common purpose.”
Russo recalls that the ship’s life jackets were a horrible trial. They’d never been cleaned, reeked of grease, diesel and accumulated dirt, and had to be worn constantly. Russo’s face crinkles in sympathy when she describes how difficult this was for some of the more sensitive women. And, since this was a troop ship and attacks did occur, the jackets were a nasty necessity.

The trip had its diversions, though, like seeing the Rock of Gibraltar by moonlight and the Algerian countryside by train. That trip was an eye-opener: “Watching through the windows as Arabs farmed with a one-gauge plow pulled by a cow or horse, and little old women emerged from ravines with sticks for fires — then we got homesick because we realized we were really away from home.”
The women stayed in a convent for a time, then were quartered in an apartment complex near headquarters. While in Algiers, air-raid sirens sounded constantly. She saw, during the last German air raid, an aviator jump from his plane into the water, and also saw a munitions ship blow up. Her eyes still fill with tears when she tells of these all-too-typical war horrors. “We always wondered if that aviator made it. Some of this stuff still bothers me,” she admits.

A close call Initially, the women worked seven days a week, until the commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, realized they needed a day off. Then they played tourist and hit the beaches, “the kinds of things young people will do.” It snowed once — a rare event, but welcome to the Twin Falls, Idaho, girl — and dances, picnics, shopping trips and other entertainment helped keep the troops cheerful.
Russo recalls clearly the troops’ bout with medical experimentation — something called atabrine. These were tablets “the English had worked up,” supposed to cure or prevent malaria; however, they were untested. “They made half the troops there and on the front lines sick. If the Germans had known that, they could have overrun us easily,” Russo avers.

In May 1943, the Germans were defeated. After a year and a half in Algiers, Russo and her company were sent to join the Fifth Army on its drive north along Italy’s western coast. Life wasn’t so cushy here; the troops, women included, lived and worked in tents. Sometimes, this had its benefits, as “on nice, warm days we’d move the typewriters out under the olive trees to work.”

Other times, just the logistics of personal hygiene were difficult for the integrated troops. The women had the showers each noon, while the men stayed away. “We managed,” Russo says. The women moved eight times on the way north to Florence. Less entertainment was available and they were closer to the front lines. Moving through Italian territory, they found the residents friendly, accommodating and destitute. “All we had to share came out of the PX,” Russo recalls, “but it was more than they had.” Hard mountain work.

She was most impressed by two things in the Italian countryside: the churches — “they were all cathedrals. There were no little neighborhood churches like we’re used to” — and the villages’ locations. “They were on top of hills, built up high long ago so nobody could overrun them,” she says.
Though a lot of work was involved — an army runs on its paperwork almost as much as on its stomachs — the young people still found time to enjoy themselves. On the coast they were always near a beach, and Russo and her sergeant took advantage of frequent swims. They had fresh eggs and fruit sometimes, purchased from people in the country — a real treat after steady army rations.

In 1944, when the Battle of the Bulge occurred, Russo was home on leave because the war in Italy was stalemated. The Germans had dug into the mountains and regular Army troops couldn’t get them out. When she returned, she shared a ship with the 10th Mountain Division, which specialized in mountain maneuvers. “They rousted the Germans out, but we lost some good champion skiers,” Russo recalls, her eyes again moistening. “It was pretty rough.”

But the next thing they knew, Europe had peace. Russo was one of three women who spent “a good share of a day and an evening typing up the peace treaty with Germany,” she recalls, though she had no sense of being part of a pivotal historical moment. “At the time, it was just work we had to get done,” she says. “That sense of history doesn’t come until later.” Perhaps some of it arrived with Russo’s Bronze Star, awarded to her and a few other WACs for meritorious service during the war.
Russo and her fellow WACs waited for months to go home. Massive numbers of male troops had to be sent home; others were mustered to the still-active Pacific Theater. Right place, right time

While waiting, she attended the University of Florence, from which she has a certificate, spent a week on the French Riviera, took in a horse race and toured the palace in Monaco, as well as spending three days in Milan. “We got to do things you don’t get to do when you’re just traveling,” she says.
Russo seems to have had a talent for being in the right place at the right time. She missed a bus and was wondering how to get back when she hitched a ride with some fellows in a Jeep. Their officers needed someone with good clerical skills to accompany them to Innsbruck, Austria, where some hospitalized German soldiers were being interviewed, and on to Munich, Germany, where the Nazi horror began.

“Well, why can’t I go?” Russo asked. So she went. What most impressed the southern Idaho girl was the treelike over Brenner Pass — it was a surprise to realize that mountains could be so tall that trees couldn’t grow on them.

Eventually, Russo and the others made it home and, like all returning troops, got on with their lives after this monumental experience. She’s had plenty of time to reflect on it over the years. “I think we (WACs) had a strong sense of our contribution, certainly stronger than the public does at large. The regular Army men were so glad to have us because we could do the office work, and most of them were stuck with farm boys who didn’t have any experience doing that kind of work. It took the men a while to get used to us, but when they learned we could do a multitude of things and weren’t fussy, they were pleased. Even when soldiers came back from the field, they were so happy to see someone who could speak English. We felt entirely welcome and part of the team.”

 SPOTLIGHT ON TABLE 58  --  Compiled by Betsy Henry
John Arbuthnot is thought to have been the immigrant ancestor of this group.  He was a political prisoner deported from Scotland after the 1746 Battle of Culloden. He went first to Maryland and then to Virginia, settling in King William County. He married Dorothea Jones and they had a son, also named John. The third generation of this family settled in Indiana.  Descendants who are current and former members of the AFA include:

Clarence F. “Lefty” Arbuthnot, IN, former treasurer of AFA

Terry Ashby, IL
Sherry Carlile, MO
Starla Arbuthnot Jeppson, ID
Cynthia Arbuthnot King, TX
Jo Ann Arbuthnot Mardis, IN
Lee, Michael, and Scot Mardis, IN
Diana Mathes, IN
Clarence Moke, IN
Olive Shoulders, IN
Susan Arbuthnot Tabor, KY
Jack Tevault, IN
Richard Tevault, WA