Senior Honors Theses
History Department Honors Program

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

April 2008


A Senior Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Honors in History.
Faculty Advisor: Jonathan Steinberg


From the years 1942 to 1945, William A. Rich, a volunteer ambulance driver with the American Field Service, wrote a vast collection of letters home; he served in the Middle East, North Africa, Italy, France, Germany and India. Rich corresponded with his family and girlfriend biweekly about his experiences and opinions, resulting in a collection of more than 300 letters. From these letters, supplemented by additional archival sources, a fascinating narrative emerges. Rich's story explains the complexity of life on the frontlines as a non-combatant of a total war. From the fall of Tunis to the horrors of the relief of Belsen Concentration Camp, the letters provide an unmediated perspective on World War Two through the eyes of a twenty-year old. My thesis seeks to examine whether these letters, and whether war letters in general, are valuable historical documents.


American Field Service, war letters, ambulance drivers, volunteers

Additional Files

Supplemental_photos.pdf (1887 kB)
Supplemental Photographs



Date Posted: 07 May 2008