The best books about women in uniform in World War II

Karen Berkey Huntsberger Author Of I'll Be Seeing You: Letters Home from a Navy Girl
By Karen Berkey Huntsberger

Who am I?

I’ve been devoted to reading memoirs since childhood. My favorite memoirs are based on letters written by people who served in World War II. Their letters encapsulate their experiences with an intimacy meant only for their loved ones. I am fascinated with the immediacy of their personal experience, the longing for home, and the courage to carry on that is expressed in these letters. I continue to be astonished and inspired by the lives of “ordinary” people who tell their own extraordinary stories better than anyone else could. I am the author of two non-fiction books based on letters and my current project is a World War II-era historical novel.


I wrote...

I'll Be Seeing You: Letters Home from a Navy Girl

By Karen Berkey Huntsberger,

Book cover of I'll Be Seeing You: Letters Home from a Navy Girl

What is my book about?

Frustrated with a career she did not like, Lucy Berkey enlisted in the Navy WAVES in 1943. She chronicled her life in letters home for two and a half years. Lucy’s vivid and captivating letters are filled with warmth, humor, and love for family and friends. She details her training, work as a map artist in Washington, DC, travel, and the unique friendships and camaraderie that developed between the women of the WAVES. Lucy’s story of personal and professional transformation, told against the backdrop of World War II, provides insight into what it was like to be a young military woman receiving the same rank and pay as a man for the first time in history.

The books I picked & why

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Destination Unknown: Adventures of a WWII American Red Cross Girl

By LeOna Cox, Kathleen Cox,

Book cover of Destination Unknown: Adventures of a WWII American Red Cross Girl

Why this book?

I absolutely love the layout of this book–the title, the photos, and the fonts. This irresistible chapter heading made me want to know more: “Training: Thrilled to Death with Everything.” At the start of the book, I knew nothing about World War II Red Cross volunteers and next to nothing about the war in Africa. LeOna’s letters are so exuberant with descriptions so vivid you feel like you are walking in her footsteps. I love the photos with her smiling face. I finished this book with a deep respect for the dedicated women who worked so hard to provide soldiers with comfort and a connection to home.


We're in this War, Too: World War II Letters from American Women in Uniform

By Judy Barrett Litoff (editor), David C. Smith (editor),

Book cover of We're in this War, Too: World War II Letters from American Women in Uniform

Why this book?

The authors spent ten years researching and acquiring the 30,000 letters that resulted in this collection portraying the wide range of experiences of women in uniform during World War II. I’ve returned to this book often during my research and would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the role women played during the war. These eyewitness accounts of the day-to-day lives of ordinary women stepping up to do extraordinary things are compelling and inspirational.


Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II

By Emily Yellin,

Book cover of Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II

Why this book?

The author’s extensive research opened my eyes to how life changed for women in World War II. The stories presented range from inspiring to heart-wrenching. Women were called on to step outside of traditional roles during the war. They volunteered to be involved in myriad ways with commitment, passion, and an earnest desire to contribute their skills. I’ve gone back to this book repeatedly when writing. A must-read for every woman interested in women’s history. 


The Red Cross Letters: A Real Life Account 1944-1946

By Dorothy Trebilcox,

Book cover of The Red Cross Letters: A Real Life Account 1944-1946

Why this book?

My favorite thing about this book is that it contains copies of the actual letters sent home by Dorothy, about half handwritten and the other half typed. The accompanying photos and newspaper clippings enhance the narrative of her work and travel in England. This is one of the most complete sets of letters I’ve ever seen. Dorothy was the Red Cross secretary at a U.S. Army hospital located at a country estate (think Downton Abbey). I love her conversational tone, charming descriptions, and positive attitude. I almost felt like I was her mother reading the letters as they arrived so many years ago.  


The Beantown Girls

By Jane Healey,

Book cover of The Beantown Girls

Why this book?

I’ve read this book twice in the last year. Even though I knew what happened, it was a page-turner the second time through. Healey clearly did extensive research to give her characters such authentic things to say and feel–they became very real to me. This book doesn’t hide the realities of war. The descriptions of the hard work Red Cross Clubmobile girls did near battlefronts are spot on and the camaraderie between the trio of main characters is beautifully written. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy! 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 2, letters, and Germany?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 2, letters, and Germany.

World War 2 Explore 971 books about World War 2
Letters Explore 19 books about letters
Germany Explore 291 books about Germany

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Choices Under Fire, The Pink Triangle, and Sisters in Arms if you like this list.