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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lunchbox Lecture: Combat Medics

As a compliment to next week’s lecture on combat medics in WWII, I decided to highlight one medic in particular.  And since the Memorial is located only a stone’s throw away from Lynchburg, it is especially fitting that this medic was a Lynchburg native. 

PFC. Desmond T. Doss
Desmond T. Doss, born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, was a combat medic in WWII.  Doss, a devout Seventh Day Adventist, refused combat service for religious reasons yet still wanted to serve his country which is why he opted for medical service.  He was assigned to the 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division’s medical attachment as a Private First Class.  The 77th Division fought through the Pacific in WWII, and Doss faithfully tended its wounded along the way.

Photo of one of the cliffs on Okinawa

There are many miraculous stories of Doss’ heroism, but one stood out to me as I read about his exploits.  In late spring 1945, Doss was with the 77th Division on Okinawa.  A contingent of soldiers made their way up one of the steep slopes of the island as they battled with the Japanese.  Suddenly the Americans found themselves trapped and under heavy fire.  Some 50 or so men were able to retreat, but the rest were left stranded and many of them were wounded.  Doss, always at the side of his fighting comrades, stayed behind to treat the wounded as the enemy inched closer.  Using a rope and strecher, Doss managed to lower wounded soldiers one at a time down the steep 400-ft. embankment to safety.  Doss is credited with saving approximately 75 lives in just that single day.  For this action, and many others like it, Doss was awarded the nation’s highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor.  On October 12, 1945, Desmond T. Doss became the first conscientious objector to receive such a distinction.  

To learn more about Desmond Doss and other heroic combat medics, come out to the Bedford Area Welcome Center next Wednesday, January 25th, at noon.  Hear from local historian and great friend to the D-Day Memorial, Hugh Scrogham, as he shares about combat medics in WWII.  In addition to the lecture, he will display many artifacts from his personal collection of WWII medical equipment.  This program is free to the public, but donations are greatly appreciated.

I hope to see you there!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lunchbox Lecture Preview: The Rochambelles

During the winter months, we try to offer patrons indoor opportunities to expand their knowledge of WWII history through our lunchbox lecture series.  This winter we have several programs planned, and I will be giving y’all a sneak preview of what’s coming in future weeks.  The first lecture in the series takes place next Wednesday, Jan. 18th at the Bedford Area Welcome Center at noon.  Our director of education will discuss the daring story of the Rochambelles: the only women’s group assigned to a combat unit in the European theater. 

So here’s a breif background on the Rochambelles to whet your appetite…

The Rochambelles served under the French General Leclerc’s famed Second Armored Division.  In July 1944, they crossed the English Channel to Normandy and worked tirelessly to save soldiers’ lives by providing an ambulance service that lasted until the end of the war.  They were among the first to enter Paris in August 1944 during the liberation and from November to February 1945, the Rochambelles assisted soldiers at the front line at Strasbourg, Erstein, Lorraine, the Colmar Pocket, and Grussenhein.

The Rochambelles faced constant danger.  Driving ambulances at night without proper directions or the use of headlights, in territory that constantly shifted hands, proved treacherous throughout their time in Europe.  Mortars, shrapnel, and machine gun fire were everyday occurrences - not to mention the other horrors of war.  At the end of the Alsatian campaign, one of the Rochambelles’ remaining ambulances had thirty-nine shrapnel holes.   Miraculously, only one Rochambelle was killed during the war; however, one went missing and was never found and six were wounded.  By the end of the war in Europe, the Rochambelles were held in high esteem by their comrades and considered invaluable to the division even though they initially faced resistance.

So if you’re in the Central Virginia area, we hope you can join us next week!  Admission is free, but donations are always appreciated.  For more information, please visit our website at


Hampton, E. (2006). Women of valor: The Rochambelles on the WWII front. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, NY.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yummy Meatless Spaghetti

During the War, the government published a series of pamphlets to encourage Americans to stick to rationing and to keep morale high in spite of wartime shortages.  One such publication is "The ABCs of Wartime Canning".  Now most of the recipes & tips in the handout relate to, of course, canning, and not just any canning but canning of jams, fruits, vegetables, and even meat!

Some of the recipes had nothing to do with canning.  I chose one of those.  Admittedly, I played it safe since I just didn't think I was ready to take on jarred fried chicken.  So I went with a low ration point recipe for meatless spaghetti.

The recipe was simple, but I came out somewhat bland.  So, I took the liberty of adding roughly a tsp. of black paper and 2 tsp. of Italian seasoning.  With the few minor alterations, it came out tasting great!  My husband and our little guy both loved it, and I heard no complaints at dinner time.

Here's the recipe:
 The ingredients...
... and it's simmering...