ID-Documents of a WWII Blitz Ambulance Driver

The following fantastic document set of a female ambulance driver found its way into my archive. Meet Miss Marjorie McMahon. She drove an ambulance for the British Red Cross in London during the Blitz and later into Europe after D-Day. ID-Documents WWII Ambulance Driver

Women Ambulance Drivers in WWII ID-Documents WWII Ambulance Driver

By early 1939 it had become clear that Europe was on the doorstep of yet another war and that action had to be taken in order to prepare for what was about to come. The lived experience of the First World War had already equipped individuals, volunteer units, and charitable organizations with previous knowledge around needs and provisions to address the situation at home and on the front.  After the declaration of war in 1939, the Joint War Organisation of the Order of St John and the British Red Cross Society started to prepare once again to support the war effort. After Germany had invaded France in May 1940, the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, targeted Britain. They failed to win control of the skies in the Battle of Britain in August 1940, and Germany’s invasion plans had to be postponed. However, Nazi leaders were convinced Britain would surrender if her civilians lost the will to fight. The plan was to destroy morale through heavy bombing raids on towns and cities.

Throughout the Blitz, Joint War Organisation members operated ambulances, acted as stretcher-bearers, ran mobile units, and made up first-aid parties, rescuing people from buildings demolished by bombs. They also handled first-aid posts, for example, in the London Underground stations that people were using as air-raid shelters.

Women ambulance workers played a vital role in servicing those in need during the Second World War in general and in the conveyance of the wounded to the British hospitals in particular. Working against all odds and the restrictions shaped by the expectations around their social role based on gender, women at the home front, in France, and elsewhere were present, empowering, and actively shaping history. In 1939 a General wrote with regards to the existence of female personnel in France: “Of course, you can say that we don’t smile on the proposition.” However, women who took part in these life-saving operations proved that their contribution to a more humane world was voicing its vision in the most elaborate way, in an act that demanded to be heard and recognized. ID-Documents WWII Ambulance Driver

ID-Documents WWII Ambulance Driver

The lot includes the following documents includes her passport, Allied Expeditionary Force Permit, two photographs, a Red Cross Motor Transport embroidered cloth arm badge, British Red Cross ID, and a British Red Cross gratuity letter. The war gratitude letter, e.g., from 1946, grants Marjorie £13 or £500 today for her service during the war. The photograph is showing a fleet of ambulance trucks and Marjorie in Red Cross uniform with a horse. The passport photo of her 30 April 1945 travel document also shows her in uniform; as an occupation, it’s mentioned: British Red Cross. The British Officer’s Club card seems to be from somewhere in France.

Marjorie died on 24 December 2008 at age 87. ID-Documents WWII Ambulance Driver


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One Comment

  1. Thank you Marjorie McMahon for your bravery and compassion, as an ambulance driver, while transporting and attending the wounded in London during WWII.

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