Who were the Gentlemen Volunteers?
The “Gentlemen Volunteers” was a term coined for the men and women who served with the American Field Service during the First World War. Many of the Gentlemen Volunteers were recent Ivy League graduates. Some joined because they wanted to prove their manhood, but the US hadn’t joined the war. Others desired to do their part, but not be involved in combat. It was commonly thought that the war would be over in a matter of months.
Another reason for the swell of volunteers into the American Field Service: the opportunity to drive the ambulance.At a top speed of 45mph, the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a converted Model T may not seem something to risk your life over. But in 1916, the automobile was still a very new invention. Joining the Gentlemen Volunteers could be your only opportunity to drive an automobile in your lifetime. Most of the Gentlemen Volunteers had to learn to drive before they could serve.