Ruth Cowan began her war reporting career in January 1943 when she was shipped overseas with the Women’s Auxiliary Corps (WACs). Her assignment was to cover the activities of the female military personnel. (For more information, see Ruth Cowan page.)
In the days following D-Day in June 1944, Ruth Cowan waited in London along with other women war reporters for the official orders that would permit her to cross the Channel to France. Meanwhile, in the days after D-Day German forces had unleashed on England the VI rocket, or buzz bomb. In an interview with General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander, Helen Kirkpatrick commented on the buzz bombing: “It’s too damned dangerous here. I want to go to France.” Eisenhower issued orders for women to be permitted to cross.
Those orders still did not provide women reporters with access to the facilities they needed to report: Jeeps, press camps, teletypes, on-site censors. Ever resourceful and having covered the field hospitals to which they were assigned, Cowan and Iris Carpenter hitched a ride to the front near Saint-Lô hoping to find action to report on. But when the German’s began bombing nearby Iris Carpenter’s ear drum was shattered, and the two women received a tongue-lashing from an Allied command officer who demanded where their Jeep and driver was. As explanation, Cowan shouted back: “We’re women correspondents.”
Ruth Cowan is featured in the film “No Job For a Woman”: The Women Who Fought to Report WWII.