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This Week in History

The Coronation of a King, a Legendary Archer, and the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps

-- On May 12, 1937: The coronation of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth took place at Westminster Abbey in London. Edward VIII's coronation was originally planned for that date, but he abdicated the throne prior to his coronation in order to marry American Wallis Simpson who was in the process of divorcing her second husband. When Edward VIII abdicated on Dec. 11, 1936, his brother Prince Albert became King George VI and the coronation preparations changed to the new king. King George VI's mother, the Dowager Queen Mary, and his daughters Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret were among the many in attendance for the event, which was also broadcast over radio and filmed. George VI reigned until his death in 1952, after which, his daughter Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II.

-- On May 14, 1938: The film The Adventures of Robin Hood was released. The film depicts the story of the daring outlaw Robin Hood (Errol Flynn) who resides in Sherwood Forrest and robs from the rich to give to the poor. A loyal supporter of King Richard the Lionheart (Ian Hunter), Robin Hood protects the King's throne from the would-be usurper Prince John (Claude Rains) and his cohorts Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) and the Sherriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper). Robin falls in love with Lady Marian Fitzwalter, aka Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), who helps him in his endeavors. Known for his legendary archery skills, Robin Hood is able to split the arrow of his opponent during one of the most famous scenes in the movie. Howard Hill, a professional archer, performed the skilled archery shots in the film. The film won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction (Carl Jules Weyl), Best Film Editing (Ralph Dawson) and Best Original Score (Erich Wolfgang Korngold). Korngold, an Austrian composer and child prodigy, was asked to create the music for the film. While he was in Hollywood working on the project, Germany invaded Austria and his home in Vienna was confiscated. As a result, Korngold stayed in the United States and wrote several other movie scores. 

-- On May 15, 1942: President Franklin Roosevelt signed Public Law 554 creating the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). Originally designed to work with the Army to help with the shortage of manpower created by World War II, the initial recruitment goal was 25,000. Recruitment was later increased to the maximum 150,000 allowed by the signed law, and Oveta Culp Hobby became its first director. On July 1, 1943, WAAC became a part of the Army and was renamed the Women's Army Corps (WAC). Women initially serving in WAAC/WAC worked in areas such as clerical, mechanical and baking. Later during the war, the types of positions expanded into numerous other jobs including translators, electricians, airplane mechanics, radio mechanics, cryptographers, map analysts and many other positions. Many women also worked on overseas assignments, providing critical support during World War II.

-- Compiled by M. Moeller

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