Friday, November 16, 2012


In early 1943, Ernesta Barlow began making publicity tours across the country and giving weekly reports of her findings. The war plants and munitions factories she toured were promoted with an emphasis that women workers (skilled or unskilled), were needed. In May of 1944, Barlow was asked by the Office of War Information to go to England and talk to factory workers there about American women in war jobs and answer their questions. Things never worked out for her to tour Europe, but the program continued with tours of American factories and war plants. During the series’ final six months, Ernesta Barlow herself was clearly referred to as “Commando Mary,” possibly influenced by the propaganda programs originating from Axis radio meant to disrupt the morale of American servicemen.
Commando Mary aired throughout much of the Second World War for a total of 137 broadcasts. Very few books and encyclopedias even make reference to the program, so there is an apparent need to document the program, no matter how minor. The following broadcast log offers known (and confirmed) details of all 137 broadcasts. The episode guide listed below is a continuation of a prior posting, picking up where the first half left off. Click here to read the first half of this article.

Broadcast Schedule 
Sunday 11:45 a.m. to 12 noon from June 21, 1942 to September 6, 1942
Sunday 10:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. from October 4, 1942 to January 17, 1943
Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. from January 31, 1943 to February 21, 1943
Sunday 9:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. from February 28, 1943 to February 25, 1945

Unless otherwise specified, the broadcasts originated from the studios of WEAF in New York City, the flagship station for NBC (Red). Special thanks to Jim Widner and my wife Michelle for helping me with this article.
Episode #51  Broadcast July 4, 1943
Discussion about jobs at the National Pneumatic Company, at Rahway, New Jersey, which is now making Armor-piercing shells for the best protection our American soldiers can have effective ammunition. Also “Dogs for Defense” was explained.

Episode #52  Broadcast July 11, 1943
A discussion about the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), why the women go into the organization, and how they are doing a good part of the winning of it. Guest speakers include Mrs. Phyllis McGhee, wife of Lt. Col. James L. McGhee, (Mrs. McGhee is a Private First Class in the WAC), Mrs. Mable Lord, mother of a WAC, and Walter Hodgdon from Flushing, Long Island, brother of a WAC. The second half of the broadcast featured a discussion about the Russian War Relief.

Episode #53  Broadcast July 18, 1943
Discussion about the Civil Air Patrol, the opportunities of training offered to women, and the work they do in it. Also, women working at the Sunnyside yard of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Commando Mary interviews Dorothy Sells, from the Office of Defense Transportation in Washington, chief of Personnel Supply Section, Division of Transport Personnel.

Episode #54  Broadcast July 25, 1943
Discussion about the Simmons Company of the Beautyrest Mattress fame. Their beds are only made for the services now and the company is asking for other vital materials. Commando Mary interviews an employee of the company.

Episode #55  Broadcast August 1, 1943
Discussion about the work of the U.S.O. in Middle River, Maryland, where the Glen Martin plant has brought in thousands of workers where a solitary farmer lived before. The discussion also centers on how the U.S.O. is helping improve housing conditions, and assists the workers in solving their other new problems. U.S.O. training at Columbia University.

Episode #56  Broadcast August 8, 1943
Jane Tiffany Wagner, director of Women’s War Activities at NBC, fills in temporarily during Ernesta Barlow’s vacation (this broadcast only). Wagner gave a summary of the latest available war jobs for women, paid and voluntary.

Episode #57  Broadcast August 15, 1943
Commando Mary interviews Philip Jessup, Chief of the Division of Personnel and Training of the Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations (and Professor of International Law at Columbia University). They discuss “Women in Post-War Relief and Reconstruction Work Abroad.”

Episode #58  Broadcast August 22, 1943
A discussion about Gloucester, Mass. and the part women are playing in the American fish industry to keep it alive during the war period.

Episode #59  Broadcast August 29, 1943
details remain unknown

Episode #60  Broadcast September 5, 1943
Commando Mary provides an account of her visit to the Charleston Navy Yard at Boston describing the great role women are playing in the shipbuilding industry.

Episode #61  Broadcast September 12, 1943
Commando Mary interviews Mrs. H.M. Aitken, from Toronto, Canada, with the Consumer Branch of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, who just completed a trip across Canada. Aitken gave a fashion show to point out to the women that their old clothes could be made over and to save valuable materials for the war cause, must not purchase new clothes. This fashion show was called “The Remake Revue.” After the show, sewing centers were established and people were taught how to sew. Aitken discusses how important a role she has been playing and encourages the radio listeners to refrain from buying new clothes.

Episode #62  Broadcast September 19, 1943
Commando Mary interviews Miss Anne Sarachon Hooley, Assistant Director of the National Catholic Community Service, one of the six big agencies which constitute the U.S.O. Hooley told of how the U.S.O. helps those persons who move into war centers, or boom town -- and it is not just an organization for Servicemen. This broadcast also features a dramatization of this situation.

Episode #63  Broadcast September 26, 1943
No guest was featured for this broadcast. Commando Mary told the story of how the diamond has gone to war and the part women were playing in a great and growing industry was absolutely essential to the war effort. There was also a War Bond plea.

Episode #64  Broadcast October 3, 1943
A discussion about the Motor Transport Service of the AWVS (American Women’s Voluntary Services), telling of the many phases of this work, and the great aid these women were giving during the shortage of doctors and nurses.

Episode #65  Broadcast October 10, 1943
A review of volunteer groups where women could serve and were always needed.

Episode #66  Broadcast October 17, 1943
This broadcast gives a picture of life and work in one of our Army hospitals. Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island, New York, is featured as an example. The second half of the broadcast centered on Russian women in the war.

Episode #67  Broadcast October 24, 1943
Commando Mary interviewed Miss Therese Bonney, photographer, who took pictures of the war as seen thru the eyes of children. Her book was now on sale and was called Europe’s Children, 1939 to 1943.

Episode #68  Broadcast October 31, 1943
The first half of the broadcast featured a discussion centered on the work in a small War Plant. Lawrence Engineering and Research Corporation of Linden, New Jersey. The second half of the broadcast told of work being done for wives and children of men in the Army by the Army Emergency Relief, and its function throughout the nation.

Episode #69  Broadcast November 7, 1943
This broadcast originated from Canada. Speaking on the great contribution Canadian women have made to the war effort in the industrial field, in the services and at home after a visit with Canadian women in work and a tour of Canadian Industries where women were employed.

Episode #70  Broadcast November 14, 1943
This broadcast featured a discussion on gliders and women’s part in their production -- giving in detail the process of their manufacture.

Episode #71  Broadcast November 21, 1943
Commando Mary again talking on the women of Canada, their work in the war effort, in war plants and the service.

Episode #72  Broadcast November 28, 1943
This broadcast featured a talk on the Family Allowance or Allotment of Pay Checks in an attempt to straighten out a certain amount of confusion now existing. Guest speaker was Brigadier General H.N. Gilbert, who presently headed the Office of Dependency Benefits.

Episode #73  Broadcast December 5, 1943
A talk on the WACs at the Aberdeen Proving Ground where she had been visiting and how happy the girls were in their Army life. Told about the triptychs, an altar piece used in the Armed Forces which helped to transform an open field into a church. The triptychs were painted by artists at cost -- more were needed -- the cost of each was $100, which could be contributed together by groups of people.

Episode #74  Broadcast December 12, 1943
Talked on women in the war -- U.S., China, Russia and Great Britain. Guest speaker was Nile Ulanova (Mrs. Robert Magidoff) who toured America speaking for the Russian War Relief.

Episode #75  Broadcast December 19, 1943
Commando Mary described the Hercules Powder Co. plant in West Virginia, which made gunpowder, resin, turpentine, celluloid and other products. All of their employees were women.

Episode #76  Broadcast December 26, 1943
Discussion centered on the Conmar Products Corp. in Newark, New Jersey, specializing in making gauges. This factory formerly made dolls eyes, hair, etc. The guest speaker told of the conversion for the war cause. The program closed with Commando Mary asking for civilian workers to consider working in the Navy Department.

Episode #77  Broadcast January 2, 1944
A talk on the Jersey City Quartermaster’s Repair Depot which mends and repairs articles of clothing and other G.I. equipment. The second half of the broadcast centered on the Navy’s need for qualified clerical employees. Accommodations available for out-of-towners, qualifications necessary and salaries.

Episode #78  Broadcast January 9, 1944
Commando Mary talked on women’s work in aircraft manufacture; airplane engines; electrical communications; precision instruments; ammunition and powder.

Episode #79  Broadcast January 16, 1944
Commando Mary described her recent visit to Mitchell Field, headquarters of the First Fighter Command which is the key center to the Air Defense of the Eastern Seaboard.

Episode #80  Broadcast January 23, 1944
Commando Mary discussed museums and work being done by them for the Army and Navy and Airforces, and for our government and the part women were playing and could play in this picture.

Episode #81  Broadcast January 30, 1944
Commando Mary told the story of life-saving under the International Red Cross Convention rules for friend and foe alike.

Episode #82  Broadcast February 6, 1944
The guest speaker is Frau Elsa Bernadotte Cedegren, niece of King Gustav of Sweden, and Vice President of the World YMCA. Mrs. Cedegren was also one of the 25 women members of the Municipal Council of Stockholm. She told of visiting internee camps for women in Germany and reported on conditions. She reported, too, on the work done by women of Sweden who took 25,000 Finnish children into their homes.

Episode #83  Broadcast February 13, 1944
Guest speaker is Pin Pin T’an, who told of her work of teaching Chinese Naval Officers at Swarthmore College an intensive course in English language. This was the first very group to arrive in this country for specialized training. Miss T’an gave a picture of some of the difficult tasks the women in China have undertaken in their years of war. For the past four years, she has been giving language broadcasts to Europe and Latin America over the World Wide Broadcasting Corporation.

Episode #84  Broadcast February 20, 1944
A discussion about the lighter-than-aircraft school and station at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Commando Mary told of the works of the WAVES and SPARS.

Episode #85  Broadcast February 27, 1944
Today is International Day and the tenth anniversary of its observance as celebrated by the International Federation of Business & Professional Women. Guest speaker was Miss Essy Key-Rasmussen, who for 16 years was one of the women executives in the League of Nations. She spoke on the International aspects of “Women’s Role in Postwar Rehabilitation.” Also a guest speaker on this program, Bess B. Loodworth, Vice Chairman of the Women’s Advisory Committee of WMC, spoke about women’s role in Postwar Rehabilitation.

Episode #86  Broadcast March 5, 1944
A discussion on the production of flying and navigation instruments, including the miracle timing device used in anti-aircraft shells, produced at the Waterbury Clock Company in Waterbury, Conn.

Episode #87  Broadcast March 12, 1944
Commando Mary talks about Fort Dix, an army camp near Trenton, New Jersey. Guest speaker is Mrs. Charles Gilbert, an active worker of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Episode #88  Broadcast March 19, 1944
This broadcast tells of the conversion story. Conversion from peacetime to war work, from rubber to its substitute buna-S.

Episode #89  Broadcast March 26, 1944
During this broadcast, it is mentioned that tomorrow is the third anniversary of the day which Yugoslav people rose in revolt against their government, which sold them out to Hitler. Guest speaker is Company Commander Irene Grodshi who talked about the Polish WACs. She told of her deportation to Russia and her experiences until the organization of WACs, of being separated from her husband and of knowing nothing of the present whereabouts.

Episode #90  Broadcast April 2, 1944
Commando Mary discussed vital work done in the Climatic Research Laboratory of the Army Quartermaster Corps at Lawrence, Mass.

Episode #91  Broadcast April 9, 1944
Commando Mary described her tour of the Arma Corp. in Brooklyn, which is turning out instruments for the Navy.

Episode #92  Broadcast April 16, 1944
Commando Mary discussed the women of our sister Republics in Latin America and what they were doing to help the cause of the United Nations in the war.

Episode #93  Broadcast April 23, 1944
A discussion on the tin can. This follows Barlow’s visit to the American Can Co. factory in Jersey City and the many ways tin is being used in the war effort.

Episode #94  Broadcast April 30, 1944
The guest speaker is Helen Hiett, correspondent and author of No Matter What (1944). She talked on the underground movement of France, how it started, what the women of France were doing to help restore the French way of life when peace comes, and acts of courage displayed by French women.

Episode #95  Broadcast May 7, 1944
Content: Commando Mary described the Naval Air Station at Floyd Bennett Field and what it was like to work and live at a big Navy air station.

Episode #96  Broadcast May 14, 1944
Content: Commando Mary described the work being carried on at Bethlehem Steel Shipyards and women’s role in it -- especially the building of LST boats.

Episode #97  Broadcast May 21, 1944
Content: This broadcast centered on rubber and how women are helping in one of the major industries of the war, Commando Mary discussed her visit to plants of the U.S. Rubber Company where women are the majority of the employees. The various uses to which synthetic rubber is put to use is also explained, so radio listeners understand the importance of rubber production.

Episode #98  Broadcast May 28, 1944
Content: Commando Mary talked about Municipal Hospitals and the splendid work done in these institutions by women. As an outstanding example, she talked on the Harlem Hospital of New York City.

Episode #99  Broadcast June 4, 1944
Content: Commando Mary discussed the plastics industry in America and for an example, talked about her recent tour of a plastics plant, the Panelyte Division of the St. Regis Paper Company.

Episode #100  Broadcast June 11, 1944
Content: Commando Mary talked on the need of 800,000 women in the Woman’s Land Army. Extra hands were needed to harvest crops. She also described the school at Farmingdale, Long Island, where instruction is given to women who would work for two months or longer on a farm.

Episode #101  Broadcast June 18, 1944
Content: Commando Mary interviewed Rev. Leslie Edward Cooke, who came from his Congressional church and parish in Coventry, England, to visit some of our Congregational churches here. She talked about the women of England in the service and working in the war effort.

Episode #102  Broadcast June 25, 1944
Content: Commando Mary talked on the Seabrook Farms, near Bridgeton, New Jersey, the largest truck farm in the country with 15,000 acres of vegetables. She told of the processing of vegetables for future use, and on women enlisting in the Armed Forces.

Episode #103  Broadcast July 2, 1944
Content: Commando Mary described her visit to the Fleet Post Office in New York. She described the WAVES which operated 24 hours a day. Every two hours a messenger came in bringing the changes in address of our Navy men.

Episode #104  Broadcast July 9, 1944
Content: Commando Mary talked about her visit to the Chester Tank Depot in Chester, Pennsylvania. This was the largest shipping installation of Army motor vehicles, tanks and battle wagons in the country where many women are employed.

Episode #105  Broadcast July 16, 1944
Content: Guest speaker was Caroline Haslett of London, an electrical engineer. Since the war broke out, she has been the adviser to Ministry of Labor on women training. She told of her work of recruiting and registration of women and of the best methods of securing their services. Miss Haslett came to the U.S. to address the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women and our own National Federation in New York City.

Episode #106  Broadcast July 23, 1944
Content: Guest speaker was Mrs. Frederick Basham of New Zealand, known to women of her native land as “Aunt Dalay” on the radio. Mrs. Basham was in the U.S. to observe the war work carried on by American women. She talked on New Zealand and the part women in that country play in the war effort.
Episode #107  Broadcast July 30, 1944
Content: Commando Mary described war production in the great mills of the Bethlehem Steel Company, where the largest naval guns and shells are made and the heaviest armor plate is forged. The vitally important posts held by American women in this plant are described.

Episode #108  Broadcast August 6, 1944
Content: Helen Hiett makes her second appearance on the program, this time as a substitute for Ernesta Barlow, who was on vacation. Hiett talked about the Volunteer Land Corps in Goshen, New York, and how these teenage volunteer girls came to this farm and harvested the crops -- comparing all this to the labor camp in Germany in which Miss Hiett was once confined.

Episode #109  Broadcast August 13, 1944
Content: Helen Hiett continues to substitute for Ernesta Barlow. Hiett discussed the plight of German women in Germany, the women of England, France and Russia, and the contributions they were making to the war effort.

Episode #110  Broadcast August 20, 1944
Content: Ernesta Barlow, known to radio listeners as “Commando Mary,” returns. Commando Mary interviewed Mrs. Doris Corwith, assistant to the NBC Public Service Counselor. They discussed the American Legion’s Auxiliary Girls State project.

Episode #111  Broadcast August 27, 1944
Content: Guest speaker was Mrs. Robert P. Patterson, wife of Under Secretary of War, who discussed the need for workers in essential industries.

Episode #112  Broadcast September 3, 1944
Content: Commando Mary talked on the making of precision instruments, controls and compasses for ships and planes. As an outstanding example of a company which manufactures these instruments, she told of her visit to the Sperry Corporation in downtown Brooklyn, where many women are employed.
Episode #113  Broadcast September 10, 1944
Content: Commando Mary talked to those who actually seek a war job. The War Manpower Commission in Washington sent Ernesta Barlow a prepared list of musts in war production, the number of workers needed, the areas where the work is located and the reasons why output of specified types of material must be stepped up.

Episode #114  Broadcast September 17, 1944
Content: Commando Mary talked on nylons. What nylon is, its importance in the war, and how women figure in its manufacture.

Episode #115  Broadcast September 24, 1944
Content: Guest speaker was Freida Miller, head of the Women’s Bureau in the U.S. Department of Labor, who discussed the women of America who are participating in war work.

Episode #116  Broadcast October 1, 1944
Content: Guest speaker was Mrs. Olivia Hemingway Kemerer, who has been overseas as Director of Red Cross Clubs in Europe, and was now home for a little rest. She told of her experiences on all battle fronts where she established clubs for recreation purposes for the fighting men.

Episode #117  Broadcast October 8, 1944
Content: Commando Mary talked about her recent tour of Triumph Explosives, Inc., and ammunition factory at Elkton, Maryland.

Episode #118  Broadcast October 15, 1944
Content: Guest speaker was Margaret Hickey, President of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, who was also on the Women’s Advisory Committee of the War Manpower Commission. Hickey discussed future possibilities for women in all types of business and professions.

Episode #119  Broadcast October 22, 1944
Content: Commando Mary reported on her recent visit to the RCA Communication’s central terminal office, the nerve center of the world’s largest radio communications system, which has helped to make the United States the communications center of the world.

Episode #120  Broadcast October 29, 1944
Content: A continuation of last week’s report on wartime activities at the RCA Communication terminal. Commando Mary also discussed the work of women at RCAC, the world’s largest commercial radio telegraph control center.

Episode #121  Broadcast November 5, 1944
Content: Commando Mary reported on her visit to the “S.S. Refuge,” a hospital ship used to bring wounded American servicemen and wounded German prisoners to this country. During the second half of the broadcast, she also discussed employment opportunities for discharged war veterans.

Episode #122  Broadcast November 12, 1944
Content: Commando Mary discussed the value of stabrine in the control of malaria and how it has helped the United Nations in waging the war in the South Pacific.

Episode #123  Broadcast November 19, 1944
Content: Commando Mary told of the men and women who work at the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, in Akron, Ohio, making heavy tires and tractor treads for the Armed Services that keep our supplies moving up to the front lines.

Episode #124  Broadcast November 26, 1944
Content: This episode was broadcast from Chicago. Guest speaker was Marine Sgt. John Montgomery. This was the only episode of the series broadcast without a script (except the announcer sheets). This broadcast was cleverly designed as publicity to assist with the 6th War Loan Drive. Commando Mary discussed the work of the Seabees and described the largest exhibition ever put on by the U.S. Navy, which Commando Mary witnessed on Lake Michigan, when dramatic landings and rescues were staged with amphibious boats, manned by returned servicemen.

Episode #125  Broadcast December 3, 1944
Content: Commando Mary reported on war work for women that involved the production of millions of heavy paper bags that were required to ship food, chemicals, seeds, fertilizers and construction materials to our armed forces and to the civilian populations of allied nations and occupied countries. This broadcast also centered on Commando Mary’s recent visit to the St. Regis Paper Company plant at Oswego, New York.

Episode #126  Broadcast December 10, 1944
Content: Guest speaker was Mrs. Frances P. Bolton, Republican Congressman from Ohio, founder of the Bolton Bill that sponsored the Cadet Nurse Corps. She was one of the first women to go into Paris after the invasion, and saw our nurses at work in the front lines and knew what they accomplished and knew their needs. During the second half of the program, Tech. Sgt. Thomas Logadon of Rushville, Illinois, Rifle Platoon Sgt. in the Infantry, told of his experiences and then made a war bond plea.

Episode #127  Broadcast December 17, 1944
Content: Commando Mary told about the making of glass at the Corning Glass Works of Corning, Stuben County, New York.

Episode #128  Broadcast December 24, 1944
Content: Commando Mary reported on the important role cotton played in the winning of the war. On an inspection tour of cotton mills in Georgia and South Carolina, she learned that women comprise fifty percent of the personnel.

Episode #129  Broadcast December 31, 1944
Content: Continuation of last week’s story of Cotton, Rayon and Nylon at war and showed how dependent heavy artillery and the Air Force was upon the textile industry.

Episode #130  Broadcast January 7, 1945
Content: Commando Mary reported on her recent tour of the Army’s Research Department at the Picatinny Arsenal, Dover, New Jersey.

Episode #131  Broadcast January 14, 1945
Content: Guests includes good-will minded students from the Paul Hoffman Junior High School, Bronx, New York. Leonore Arnold, Philip Jerome, Joan Everling and Caroline La Rosa. They have been writing to English children about “Things American,” the lives of our great heroes, the character of our cities and the activities of the average American school boy and girl. They told the radio listeners about the letters they have received from their English correspondents.

Episode #132  Broadcast January 21, 1945
Content: This is the only broadcast of the series with a title: “A Whole Town At War.” Commando Mary reported on her visit to York, Pennsylvania, which had 48,000 out of 90,000 in key war industries, 40 percent of whom were women. Ernesta Barlow’s visit was arranged by the War Manpower Commission.

Episode #133  Broadcast January 28, 1945
Content: Mrs. Eleanor Stevenson, Red Cross Mobile Canteen worker, who had just returned from Italy where she and members of her unit were under the fire in the Battle of Salerno. As a guest speaker, she discussed her experiences and spoke of what those on the home front could do for the soldiers overseas.

Episode #134  Broadcast February 4, 1945
Content: Commando Mary told the story of ball bearings and their vital importance in war production.

Episode #135  Broadcast February 11, 1945
Content: Commando Mary reported on the activities of women soldiers in greasepaint who travel the war circuits for the U.S.O. Guest speaker was Peggy Alexander, a show girl who spent two and a half years in U.S.O. camp shows playing isolated gun emplacement spots, highly strategic unknown areas and remote posts.

Episode #136  Broadcast February 18, 1945
Content: A resume of the most urgent of the war jobs for women which Commando Mary investigated in more than two years of war plant visits, gathering data for her programs. She especially lauded the WACS, WAVES, SPARS, Marines and the Nursing Corps.

Episode #137  Broadcast February 25, 1945
Content: Final broadcast of the program. Commando Mary gave conclusive proof that men and women were needed in out immense war industry. She quoted from Secretary Stimson’s radio address of February 19; and a statement by the Undersecretary of War, Robert Patterson, made earlier in the month; before the Senate Military Affairs Comm.; in an effort to prove that as citizens in a free republic we now need a National War Service Act.