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Elizabeth Richardson

American Red Cross

Civilian

Entered the Service from:

Indiana

Died:

7/25/1945

Grave Location:

Plot A, Row 21, Grave 5

Elizabeth Richardson graduated from Milwaukee-Downer College in 1940.

Elizabeth Richardson was a Red Cross Volunteer who served in England and France from 1944-1945. After graduating from Milwaukee-Downer College, Richardson got an advertising job in Milwaukee. However, after becoming more concerned about her friends fighting abroad, in early 1944 she volunteered for the American Red Cross along with two classmates from college. 

Elizabeth Richardson and classmates at Milwaukee-Downer College, c. 1938-1940.

After six weeks of training in Washington, D.C., Richardson sailed to England aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth in mid-July, 1944, one of 15,000 Americans the Queencarried overseas towards the war. For many GIs in England, the sight of an American woman was so unusual, Richardson wrote soon after her arrival, that "you feel sort of like a museum piece—'Hey, look, fellows! A real, live American girl!'" She was assigned to work on a clubmobile - a single-decker bus fitted with coffee and doughnut-making equipment. Clubmobiles also carried chewing gum, cigarettes, magazines, newspapers, a phonograph, and records.

 
Richardson poses with a coffee urn in December 1944, at Camp Dane Ghyell in northern England.

Like most clubmobile volunteers, Richardson developed strong feelings for the soldiers. They told her stories not reported in newspapers, tales of combat and brutality, of choices grimly made, of fears and deep regrets—stories that a GI might not write home to a wife or girlfriend, nor tell children or grandchildren in the years to come. While in France in the spring of 1945, Richardson wrote to her parents:

We were cruising past some resting troops, when I heard them shouting "Hey, Liz! Hey, Milwaukee!" It was a whole unit that we had known in England and we had a wonderful reunion right there on the road. And yesterday I met one of the cooks who had helped us brew our coffee during that week of the invasion of Holland. It's funny how they remember you and stranger yet how we can remember them after seeing thousands and thousands of faces.

Richardson (left) and Mary Haynsworth (right) chat with GIs in front of their clubmobile in Normandy, c. 1944-1945.

At the Le Havre airport on the morning of July 25, 1945, Richardson was flying in a two-seat military aircraft to Paris when the aircraft crashed near Rouen. Richardson and the pilot, Sgt. William R. Miller of the Ninth Air Force, died instantly. She was 27 years old.

Elizabeth Richardson is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot A, Row 21, Grave 5.