Ethel Cerasale was a nurse who decided to help the war effort by joining the American Red Cross.
After completing her nursing training, Ethel was posted to Britain as a flight nurse. It was the first time she had ever been away from home. ‘It was real scary,’ she remembered. ‘I didn’t know anything about travelling on trains or anything like that. My folks took me to the airport and bid me a tearful farewell and I was as scared as I could be.’ She was responsible for looking after casualties as they were evacuated by air from France. This job could be dangerous – Ethel remembered her aircraft being fired at by ground troops. One of Ethel’s fellow nurses was captured and became one of the few women held as a Prisoner of War during the Second World War.
As well as being a Flight Nurse, Ethel volunteered to be a nurse on a bomber base. She crewed an ambulance at Kimbolton airfield. Sometimes she had to improvise solutions in difficult conditions: ‘The main thing we did was give them a shot of morphine and make sure that we had an “M” on their forehead in lipstick so that the hospital knew that they had already been given a shot.’ Ethel stayed in the USAF but was forced to resign when she married an Air Force pilot. Her son ‘always felt that, in a different era, she would have been a career military officer and likely been running the whole show. She loved the military more than my father did.’
Military site : airfield
Planned for RAF use, Kimbolton airfield was built by W and C French Ltd. in 1941. The airfield was increased in size to accommodate a full US heavy Bomb Group, and the first such unit to us it was the 91st Bomb Group, who arrived in September 1942....