July 18, 2014

1942. The American Red Cross' "Glamour Battalion"

"Glamour Battalion" Overworked as Doughboys in Britain Go All Out to Make Girls Feel at Home
"Newly-arrived American Red Cross workers say 'hello' to soldiers at one of the Red Cross clubs in London."


United Press Staff Correspondent (printed in the Kansas City Dispatch and elsewhere).

London. September 8, 1942. -- (UP)

The American Red Cross' "glamour battalion" came from the United States to make the doughboys feel at home, but it didn't work out that way. The doughboys are trying to make the "glamour battalion" feel at home.

"We find they are more interested in making us feel at home and won't let us worry about them," said pretty Ann Douglas, daughter of Judge Walter Douglas of Savannah, Ga.

She is typical of the girls in the battalion -- all in their 20's, pretty and shapely. Miss Douglas, blonde and blue-eyed, was sitting amid piles of newspapers, ping pong paddles, checker boards and playing cards. She organizes entertainment for American soldiers in one Red Cross club with accommodations for more than 1,000 men.

"I often wondered what I'd do if I had 1,000 men on my hands," she said. "Look at me now. It's not all fun."

Anne Ellis of New York and Faye Smith of Marks, Miss., said they were a little hoarse from a singing session the night before at the Washington club.

"We had a few Rangers and other soldiers on leave who wanted to sing -- which every one within three blocks can tell you we did, but loud." Miss Ellis said.

Miss Ellis studied voice before she joined the Red Cross. Miss Smith was director of physical recreation in Dallas, Tex., high schools.

From 7 a. m. to Midnight

They get up at 7 a. m. and sometimes work past midnight. Occasionally they have an afternoon free and get one day off a week in which to keep personal dates.

Perhaps the homiest touch to the entire Red Cross setup in Britain is provided by Mrs. Mary Mumford of Stamford, Conn., middle-aged and white haired, who served with the Red Cross during the army's southern maneuvers and who has two sons in the navy.

She is "Mom" to every man who comes into the Washington club.

"I write letters to their mothers telling them their boys are all right, and if they lose all their money or their railroad tickets, they can get some money from me," she said.

Every Loan Repaid

An American resident of Britain gave her $60 to "mess around with," and she unofficially lends from it to men on leave. They can get up to $8, and so far every loan has been repaid.

"The boys here know they feel free to do anything they want," she said. If a man comes here on leave, wants relaxation and gets too much to drink, we don't teach him manners or give him lectures. If that happens, and it is bound to, it is our job to take care of him and let him know there's a place he can come to find his friends."

So far, American soldiers have been using Red Cross facilities to the utmost, keeping its billets full, and taking advantage of its sight-seeing tours, free theater tickets, and free dances.

Mrs. Mumford's biggest problem concerns boys who ask her to find out why they don't get mail. One soldier had been receiving cables of condolences and knew something had happened to his family. But he couldn't hear from his family. Mrs. Mumford found out by cable that his mother had died.