Vera Brittain (1893 – 1970) was born to a middle class family and was unusually well-educated for a woman of her time. In 1915 she left her Oxford studies and joined the Voluntary Aid Detachments (known as the VAD’s), an auxiliary whose members assisted nurses in wartime hospitals. After postings to England and Malta, she was sent to General Hospital No. 24 in Etaples, France, where she served from August 3rd, 1917 to April 29th, 1918. You can read more about Vera, her brother Edward and her friends here.
In this famous passage from Brittain’s 1933 memoir Testament of Youth, she recalled her first glimpse of their new allies, probably from the 131st or 132nd Infantry, 33rd Division (Illinois National Guard):
‘… I had to wait to let a large contingent of troops march past me…Though the sight of soldiers marching was now too familiar to arouse curiosity, an unusual quality of bold vigour in their swift stride caused me to stare at them with puzzled interest.
They looked larger than ordinary men; their tall straight figures were in vivid contrast to the undersized armies of pale recruits to which we were grown accustomed…Had yet another regiment been conjured out of our depleted Dominions? Then I heard an excited exclamation…”Look! Look! Here are the Americans!”
… These were our deliverers at last, marching up the road to Camiers in the spring sunshine!…The coming of relief made me realize all at once how long and how intolerable had been the tension, and with the knowledge that we were not, after all, defeated, I found myself beginning to cry.’
You can read more about Vera’s VAD service here: https://simonjoneshistorian.com/2015/01/08/where-did-vera-brittain-serve-in-france-during-the-first-world-war/