On this Armistice day we do well to remember the service men of our respective countries who made the ultimate sacrifice but how many of us remember the sacrifices made by those Women who also served and answered the call of duty. In both the armed services and civilian duties women played a sometimes largely forgotten role on the home front and the war front. Army, Navy and Airforce had women serving whether it was driving vehicles, flying aircraft, working in the medical corp and these women played a vital role in the war effort.
On the home front as well, women went into the factories to work long hours filling the void left by fathers, brothers and sons who were called up to fight. In the United Kingdom women joined the land army to help with much needed food production due to food rationing.
Volunteer organisations also benefited from this new found patriotism of women prepared to answer the call. Red Cross services on both sides of the Atlantic swelling its numbers for those needing respite.
An American Red Cross guest ticket to admit one to the Barberini theatre, Rome circa 1945.
The ARC also served in Great Britain where they provided much needed support to military personnel. They were also attached to military hospitals to help care for the sick and wounded. Following the invasion of Normandy 1944, the ARC also crossed the channel to mainland Europe where they provided much needed support to the allied troops serving there.
What we shouldn’t lose sight of however is the women who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war with 543 killed whilst serving with the US military and 52 with the American Red Cross. The British also had female losses during the conflict with casualties in all services including civilian service.
During a recent trip to Holland & Germany we took time out to visit the “Netherlands American Cemetery” at Margraten, near Maastricht. 8301 service personnel lie buried here, I say personnel because some of the graves are to women who served in Europe never to return home to the United States.
Two of the graves I visited were to “1 LT Wilma P Vinsant , 806th Air evacuation squad, April 14 1945” & “Dorothy Jane Burge, American Red Cross, May 1 1945”.
In 1943 a medal was authorised for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp and awarded for service between July 20 1942 and August 31 1943 and to the Women’s Army Corp September 1 1943 to September 2 1945.
“Lest we forget ALL those that served and died for our freedom”