Amongst the many artefacts on display are uniforms of various women's services of the allied nations: British, Canadian, Indian, South African, Australian, American, West Indian, Dutch, Belgian, French, Polish etc. Many of whom are unsung heroines; here are a few of them, honoured at our museum.
Clubmobiler Mary Lamb
This mannequin is in memory of Mary Lamb who was driving in Italy as she was assigned to the 92nd Infantry Division "Buffalo Soldiers", however whilst driving through the village of Lucca she was greeted by waving flags from happy Italians, not quite sure what was going on she stopped and asked, and without realising, her group of Clubmobilers had liberated their village. Major-General Edward M. Almond, commanding general of the 92nd Infantry was astounded by their bravery and demanded these women were given the best hotel in the town.
WAAF Dorothy Wood
The WAAF tunic named to Dorothy Wood. Dorothy was a pay clerk but also joined the RAF band and played the drums. The tunic was donated by her daughter for the museum.
U.S Army Nurse POWs of Bataan
The display of my Army Nurse Corps uniforms are in memory of the 66 nurses held captive in Bataan prison, Santo Tomas, Philippines for over 4 years. Their heroism and determination to survive got them through their horrifying ordeal for them to be finally liberated and released in 1945. The 11 other nurses held prisoner at another POW Camp, Los Banos were from the Navy Nurse Corps which will also be remembered in the phase two upstairs museum display.
Pfc Mary Barlow, Pfc Mary Bankston, Sgt Dolores Browne - 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion
This display is in memory of the three African American women who were killed in a jeep accident in Rouen, France. Mary Barlow and Mary Bankston died instantly 8 July 1945 and Dolores died of her wounds five days later on13 July 1945. They are laid to rest at the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach at Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
Clubmobiler Elizabeth Richardson
Clubmobiler Elizabeth Richardson was killed in a plane crash whilst flying out from La Havre to Paris on 25 July 1945 to meet friends for lunch. Elizabeth is laid to rest at the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach at Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
Lieutenant Frances Slanger, ANC
The Army Nurse Corps blue tunic/garrison cap display is in memory of U.S. Army Nurse Lt Frances Slanger, who was killed in action whilst tending to wounded soldiers in a field hospital in Elsenborn, Belgium on 21 October 1944, by German artillery attack. She was the first American nurse to die in Europe after since D-Day (6 June 1944). She was 31 years old.
Lieutenant Ruth Haddick, ANC
The mannequin wearing a WAC/ANC version of the Army's HBT overalls is dedicated to U.S. Army Nurse Lt Ruth Haddick, who served with 58th General Hospital & 51st Field Hospital between January 1942 and April 1946.
The first units of the 51st Field Hospital came ashore on the Easy Green Sector of Omaha beach on 8 June 1944.
When Ruth stepped ashore with 17 other nurses on Omaha Beach on the night of the 12 June 1944 she could see the Geneva Red Cross fluttering in the wind as they headed up the bluffs. The nurses were all put to work in the post care tent & worked tirelessly for 18/20 hours a day.
Like all women who served not all their stories are told. Ruth was one of many dedicated nurses who served her country during WW2. She passed away on the 16th October 2016 aged 95. Rest in peace Ruth.
With thanks to WW2 Army Nurse Historian Claire Thorpe