The women of World War II fascinate us and D-day is one of
the most pivotal events in modern history, so I enjoyed exploring both in THE SKY ABOVE US
, book 2 in the Sunrise at
Normandy series. While my hero flies above the landing beaches in his P-51
Mustang, my heroine runs the American Red Cross Aeroclub at his airfield. Here are some
interesting things I learned about the Red Cross in World War II.
1. At a time when the population of the United States was
132 million, 37 million adults and 20 million children and youth belonged to the Red Cross,
with 7.5 million serving as volunteers. In addition, 40,000 men and women were paid workers
with the Red Cross.
2. Of those overseas workers, twenty-nine women died,
primarily in plane crashes, but also due to enemy shelling.
3. Women who worked with the American Red Cross
overseas had to be at least twenty-five years old and have a college degree. They underwent
an extensive interview process and had to complete training in Washington, DC. The women
had the “equivalent status” of an officer, which granted them many officer privileges.
4. The American Red Cross operated hundreds of service
clubs all over the world, from Greenland to Brazil, from England to China, from Tunisia to India.
At these clubs, servicemen on leave could receive hot meals and a comfortable bed and enjoy
wholesome recreational activities and tours of the local area.
5. Overseas, the ARC also served American servicemen
where they were. They ran Aeroclubs at US airfields, Fleet Clubs at naval bases, Camp Clubs
at Army bases, and Donut Dugouts at training bases. At these clubs, men could relax, get a
snack, read, write letters, play games, listen to music, and attend dances.
6. The Red Cross ran “clubmobiles,” mobile vans that the
women drove to remote airfields to provide coffee, donuts, and banter to airmen returning
from missions. The clubmobiles even had phonographs and speakers, so the women could
jitterbug with the flyboys.
7. Clubs were set up in grass huts in New Guinea, tents in
Algeria, tin Nissen huts in England, and swanky London hotels. The women often lived in
primitive conditions and endured many dangers with incredible grace and courage.
8. Segregation was opposed by the Red Cross but required
by the US military, a particularly ugly aspect of life in the 1940s. The Red Cross did have
separate facilities, with clubs for white servicemen run by primarily white workers and clubs
for black servicemen run by primarily black workers. All clubs were officially open to all races,
but the men tended to self-segregate.
9. The servicemen tended to treat the female Red Cross
workers with gentlemanly respect—with exceptions, of course. The men saw the women as
sisters and enforced courtesy when their buddies misbehaved. Refreshing!
10. The American Red Cross was perhaps most famous with
the servicemen for the ever-present coffee and donuts, that wonderful taste of home. Would
you believe the American Red Cross served 1.6 billion donuts during World War II? That’s
a lot of “sinkers.”
Overall, the women of the American Red Cross performed a
valuable service during the war, helping servicemen cope with the dangers of battle and the
stress of being away from home. I enjoyed highlighting the work of these independent and
resourceful women through my fictional Violet Lindstrom in THE SKY ABOVE US.
Which of these facts surprised you or interested you? Could you see yourself as a
Red Cross worker?
Sunrise at Normandy #2
Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the
US 357th Fighter Group in 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German
Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights in the skies over France as the Allies struggle for control of
the air before the D-day invasion.
Violet Lindstrom wanted to be a missionary, but for now, she serves in the American Red
Cross, where she arranges entertainment for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub on base
and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help
with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement.
Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws
near. And secrets can't stay buried forever.
Bestselling author Sarah Sundin returns readers to the shores of Normandy, this time in the
air, as the second Paxton brother prepares to face the past--and the most fearsome battle of
Inspirational Historical | Romance Historical [Revell, On Sale: February
5, 2019, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780800727987 / eISBN: 9781493416585]