At the end of WWII, the university quickly builds several two-story residence halls at the top of Dwight Way to accommodate women students displaced from private housing by the return of veterans. Two are named for distinguished UC Berkeley alumnae who died in the war. One is Margaret Sanford Oldenburg, a 1931 graduate who joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) squadron. The squadron trained women to fly military planes between bases, freeing up male pilots for combat assignments. Oldenburg was killed in a training accident in Texas in 1943.
The other is Esther English Richards, the first American Red Cross worker killed in action in WWII. The 1918 graduate was an Army nurse in World War I, but was denied reenlistment in World War II because of her age, so consequently she joined the Red Cross and was sent during the war to the Mediterranean. Richards was fatally injured while serving in a field hospital during the 1944 Battle of Anzio in Southern Italy. Before her death, she was wounded in the bombing of the HMHS Newfoundland, a British hospital ship that was torpedoed off the coast of Italy during the Allies’ invasion of Italy in September 1943. The ship was destroyed by fire and had to be sunk. Six British nurses and all the medical officers were killed.