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Boyce, Westray Battle | Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

Name: Boyce, Westray Battle
Variant Name: Westray Battle, Westray Battle Leslie, Westray Battle Long


Historical Note:

Westray Battle was born 10 August, 1901 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina to Mr. and Mrs. Jacob B. Battle, Jr. She attended North Carolina College for Women (now University of North Carolina at Greensboro) from 1918 to 1919 in the Commercial program, and Pell's Law School in Raleigh, North Carolina from 1921 to 1922. From 1919 to 1934 she worked at various local and general insurance companies. In March 1934 she entered civilian service of the federal government and worked with National Recovery Administration, Rural Electrification Administration and the Federal Works Agency out of Washington, DC.

From 1924 to 1941, she was married to James Stacy Boyce. Boyce enlisted in Officer's Candidate School (OCS) for the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) in the summer of 1942. In October 1942 she was assigned to the Fourth Service Command Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia to head the WAAC s in seven southeast states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina. She served on Major General William Bryden's staff, the first second lieutenant to do so as well as the first woman to be a member of such a group. In December 1942 she was promoted to captain. In August 1943 she was sent to North Africa as WAC staff director at Allied Forces Headquarters under General Eisenhower. Boyce was promoted to major and oversaw the reenlistment of the WACs assigned to North Africa. She was also responsible for the health and welfare of the WACs in the North Africa theater and later Mediterranean theater. In 1944, she was promoted to lieutenant colonel and the first woman to receive the Legion of Merit for her work in North Africa.

In August 1944, Boyce returned to the United States and was a military personnel officer on the staff of the War Department at the Pentagon. That same year she was made deputy director of the WAC under Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby. 3 September, 1945 she succeeded Col. Hobby as director of the WAC and was promoted to full colonel. In 1946, she received the Oak Leaf Cluster to her Legion of Merit.

She retired from the service March, 1947 and was appointed national field representative of the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults. In 1947, Boyce was the first woman to receive the Military Service Cross from the Daughters of the Confederacy.

She married William Leslie in 1948 and they were married until his death in 1961. In 1964, she married Willie Jones Long.

Boyce died 31 January, 1972 at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC. She was buried in the Battle family burial plot near Cool Spring Plantation in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.






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