Today’s post is written by Meghan Ryan, a processing archivist at Archives II.
The American Red Cross and American Red Cross Women provided many different services to military personnel during World War II. One of the lesser known branches of the Red Cross from that time is the Clubmobile service. Clubmobiles were refitted buses and trucks, staffed by the Red Cross, which accompanied the troops serving free coffee and doughnuts and providing other treats from home. Clubmobiles were intended to raise troop morale, and, in addition to coffee and doughnuts carried the latest American records, which they played from loud speakers.
Clubmobiles were staffed and run by women, whose duties took them to the front lines of the Second World War. Beatrice Bogart, a clubmobile supervisor, writes of being “somewhere in France” and driving through towns that had not yet been taken – “in one they were shooting it out, but I blithely went on my merry way” (ARC Identifier 5860057, Letters of Beatrice Bogart, pg 87). Elizabeth Sillcocks Walker describes her clubmobile losing its way in a forest, and finding herself and her crew behind enemy lines. (ARC Identifier 5860057, Across Europe 6X6, pg 26).
They may have been overseas to serve coffee and doughnuts and provide a “touch of home,” but the Clubmobile girls of the American Red Cross did far more than that. Their jobs put them on the front lines of combat, and many received army medals, both for service in a combat zone, and for valor. Clubmobile Ground F was awarded an Army Bronze star for moving five truckloads of Christmas mail for G.I.s out of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. Clubmobiles were attached to the army at the front lines, and survived combat situations. Some clubmobile girls lost their lives while in service. Their stories, told in their own words, make up a part of ARC Identifer 5860057, World War II Memoirs and Memorabilia.
For more information on American Red Cross Activity during World War II, try Collection ANRC.