After all, who takes care of the Red Cross’s morale?”: The Experiences of American Red Cross Clubmobile Women during World War II

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After all, who takes care of the Red Cross’s morale?”: The
Experiences of American Red Cross Clubmobile Women during
World War II, Is A Well-Researched Topic, It Is To Be Used As A Guide Or Framework For Your Research.

ABSTRACT

This thesis examines the experiences of the women who served in the American Red Cross Clubmobile Service in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. Their job required them to travel through England, France, and even Germany in converted buses and 2 ½ ton trucks, serving coffee, donuts, and a smile to soldiers just off the front lines. Though considered essential to maintaining soldiers’ morale, historians have virtually ignored these women’s experiences and role in the war. The inattention to their participation by the academic community parallels the disregard the women faced during the war. Clubmobile women encountered the strain and dangers of war armed with minimal training and virtually no psychological preparation for what they might face; however, they were expected, and indeed relied upon, to bolster the morale of men who had often just come from the front. By focusing on clubmobile women’s role in maintaining soldiers’ morale, the Red Cross and the military neglected to recognize that the morale of their female workers was equally important. Through an examination of documents written by various clubmobile women, this thesis explores how women coped with both highly gendered expectations and the experience of war itself. Clubmobile women came to rely on one another to navigate the challenges they faced and to do their job effectively. The camaraderie amongst them was a result not only of their shared experiences, but also of their status as noncombatants and their gender. Ultimately, this research seeks not only to answer the question “who takes care of the Red Cross’s morale?” but also to illuminate the circumstances that make this query necessary.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS……………………………………………………………………IV
ABSTRACT………………………………………………………………………………………V
INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………………………….1
A note on sources……………………………………………………………………………..5
Historiography………………………………………………………………………………..10
Gender roles during the Second World War……………………………………………..10
A little-told story…………………………………………………………………………17
Morale matters……………………………………………………………………………19
CHAPTER 1: Creating the American Red Cross Clubmobile Service……………………..24
Military morale services during World War II………………………………………………25
A brief history of clubmobiles……………………………………………………………….27
A day in the life of a clubmobiler……………………………………………………………31
“[N]o teacher can ever tell you”……………………………………………………………..33
“Leaves were necessary from time to time, just to keep going”……………………………..39
CHAPTER 2: A “forward element in the war against Germany”: Clubmobilers
on the front lines…………………………………………………………………………………43
“[M]ore freedom than many soldiers”……………………………………………………….44
“We were only strafed”………………………………………………………………………51
“‘If you are lucky, you’ll be captured’”………………………………………………………58
“[P]eaceful things crumble and disappear”…………………………………………………..61
CHAPTER 3: A “nerve racking business”: The emotional challenges of clubmobiling……69
“We are veterans”……………………………………………………………………………71 A “gift from heaven”…………………………………………………………………………74
“[A]mateur psychologists”……………………………………………………………………76
“[E]verybody’s girl friend”…………………………………………………………………..79
“‘Dear donut-girl’”……………………………………………………………………….81
“[S]mile, if it kills you”………………………………………………………………………86
“That’s what I came for”……………………………………………………………………..90
CHAPTER 4: Sisterhood: Coping with war………………………………………………….95
Official concern (or lack thereof) with Red Cross morale……………………………………96
Family………………………………………………………………………………………98
“I wish I could like them”…………………………………………………………………..107
“The friends you come to treasure”…………………………………………………………112
“We should never have been split up […] in the first place”………………………………119
CHAPTER 5: “[W]e’ve grown beyond their understanding”: Homecoming
and beyond…………………………………………………………………………………….126
“‘Should I really go’”………………………………………………………………………126

“‘I didn’t have anything in common with anyone back here”’…………………………….129
Not just “for the duration”………………………………………………………………….133
Clubmobilers’ legacy: Vietnam…………………………………………………………….136
CONCLUSION………………………………………………………………………………..139
APPENDICES…………………………………………………………………………………146
BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………………………………………..153

Brand

YourPastQuestions Brand

Additional information

Author

Paige Gulley

Year

2020

No of Chapters

5

No of Pages

168

Reference

YES

Format

PDF

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