Raymonde Jeanmougin was born in 1922, and signed up for the French Army nursing squad in Algiers in 1943. She was first assigned to another division, but refused to go, saying she wanted to join only the Free French 2nd Armored Division. Initially, General Leclerc refused to allow women to serve with the 2nd Armored Division, but when the head of the ambulance corps told him that he would not get their 19 ambulances without women drivers, he finally relented. As a 21-year-old, she joined the unit with little more preparation for war than a certain stubbornness and determination to contribute.
The women named their ambulance driver group the Rochambeau Group, after the French general who helped win the American Revolution. They served immediately behind the front lines, evacuating Soldiers from the front to the dressing stations. The men in the division referred to them as the Rochambelles, and they served under this name for the duration of the war.
At age 95, Raymonde still commutes into Paris three days a week to work at the Veterans' Office. The 15,000-member Armored Division from WWII is down to about 450 veterans still living.
In this interview, she describes joining the Rochambelles and serving as an ambulance driver, in particular focusing on her experience evacuating a wounded American Lieutenant from the battlefield.