Rochambelles and Marinettes

Text extracted from that written on the Borne, in memory of the Rochambelles.

The Rochambelles were integrated into the 1st Medical Company of the 13th Medical Battalion. They landed here on Saint-Martin-de-Varreville beach, on Utah Beach, on the night of August 4 to 5, 1944.

They then followed the troops of the 2 D.B., taking part in the Normandy campaign, the Liberation of Paris, the Lorraine and Alsace campaigns, and as far as Berchtesgaden in Germany.

Some continued their commitment as far afield as Indochina. In all, some sixty women were Rochambelles.

Like the Rochambelles, the Marinettes landed at Utah Beach, in Saint Martin de Varreville. They were ambulance drivers in the Navy, and their story began in Morocco, where Mlle Jacqueline Carsignol was looking for volunteers to look after the wounded of the Leclerc Division.

Unlike the Rochambelles, none of the 9 Marinettes became casualties of war.

May the honors of history and the kindness of memory be returned to them. These courageous and enthusiastic women accompanied Leclerc's boys throughout the campaign to liberate France. Our thanks go to them.

Like any other division, the 2nd French Armored Division had its own medical service. Among them was a special unit: the female ambulance drivers. The "Rochambelles" take their name from the Rochambeau unit, a tribute to the Comte de Rochambeau, Marshal of France and companion of La Fayette.

It was an American woman, Florence Conrad, living in France in 1940, who initiated the ambulance drivers. She had already taken part in medical actions during the First World War, and had served on the Maginot Line during the French campaign.

After the armistice, she returned to New York, raised funds and bought nineteen new ambulances. She set up a medical unit, named the Rochambeau Unit, and recruited fourteen French women living in New York - the first Rochambelles.

The group arrived in Rabat, Morocco, in September 1943, and was joined by a further 25 women. Other Rochambelles also enlisted in England and France.

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