About Leonora Lindsley
Leonora Lindsley was an American member of the famed Rochambeau group of the French 2nd Armored Division, nicknamed “the Rochambelles,” an international all-female ambulance unit formed by a wealthy American widow, Florence Conrad. The Rochambelles were the only female combat unit on the Western Front during World War II. Lindsley was an ideal recruit for the unit since before the war she had lived in Paris where her parents had been journalists, and she knew the country well. When the U.S. State Department declared that none of the American women Conrad had recruited would be allowed to go abroad and serve in a French army unit, Lindsley joined the Red Cross, but she re-joined the Rochambelles in France after D-Day and the liberation of Paris and served with them under fire through the campaign to drive the Germans out of Alsace and Lorraine.
She was killed in a freak road accident the day before the war officially came to an end when the jeep she was riding in struck a bomb crater on the road up the mountain to Hitler’s retreat at Berchtesgaden, and she was thrown from the vehicle. She was the only known fatality among the thirty or so members of the unit (one went missing during the Normandy Campaign and was never seen again, and several were wounded in action).
She was posthumously awarded the French Croix de Guerre avec Palme. After the war the Leonora Lindsley Endowment was established in her honor to award grants to French citizens who are descended from French Resistance fighters and who are pursuing graduate study in the United States.