Angels of Mercy: The Army Nurses of World War II

Angels of Mercy: The Army Nurses of World War II

by Betsy Kuhn

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Overview

"You Are Needed Now," the posters proclaimed. "Join the Army Nurse Corps." And so they did: Over 59,000 American women signed up to serve their country in the war effort. Some joined expecting to experience the romance and adventure of war in faraway places while working to save lives. Many more quickly learned war's harsh realities — and that their own lives could also be in danger.
The Army nurses of World War II served in the United States and abroad, in dense jungles, war-torn villages, and on barren ice fields. Many encountered hardships: bombings, crude living conditions, inadequate food. They also experienced the frustration of receiving lesser pay and privileges than their male counterparts as they worked, sometimes around the clock, to treat the wounded while confronting air raids, the threat of invasion, and capture by the enemy.
Nonetheless, in additon to their devotion to saving lives, some of the most important things the nurses brought to their units were courage and cheer. From holiday parties in makeshift hospitals to fudge making and softball games amid the grueling conditions of war, these angels of mercy brought light — and life — to the American forces of World War II.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689820441
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: 10/01/1999
Edition description: 1 ED
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 728,653
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.30(d)
Lexile: 970L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Betsy Kuhn, who wanted to write books for children since she was eleven years old, grew up in western Pennsylvania. She became interested in the nurses of World War II from listening to her aunt, June Bossler, and her friend, Alice Weinstein, describe their nursing experiences in England and the Pacific.

Since leaving Pennsylvania, Betsy has lived in England, New Mexico, and Connecticut. She now makes her home in Maryland with her husband and their twin sons. She also has written a children's novel, Not Exactly Nashville.

Read an Excerpt

The first Army nurses to care for D day casualties were those of the 12th and 13th Hospital Train Units — but they didn't reach Normandy by train. Sailing on two British hospital ships, they arrived off Omaha Beach on June 7 and Utah Beach on June 8, and began caring for the wounded before they were evacuated back to England.

On June 10, long before things had settled down, the nurses of the 128th Evacuation Hospital arrived on Utah Beach. They'd left England the day before, dressed in fatigues. "We didn't take off those clothes for a long time!" Helen Reichert remembers with a laugh.

At dawn, as her ship neared the Normandy shore, Reichert went up on deck to use the bathroom. "This glider [bomb] came down ... and it fell in between our ship and the ship that was next to us and exploded," she says. "It blew in part of our ship."

The nurses sailed to shore on small landing boats, then waded through the water and ran across the beach to safety. The soldiers had laid down a metal track on the sand for tanks and other heavy vehicles, part of the elaborate D day preparations. Says Reichert, "I looked down and I said, well, this is nice. It was an improvement over our Arzew beach."

Helen Dixon Johnson, a nurse from California, landed on Omaha Beach two weeks after D day. Even then, she remembers, "There was debris all over: tanks and trucks and parts of equipment, machine guns, everything. There were [barrage] balloons all over," large balloons that hovered over the water to help protect ships against air attacks.

The ack-ack (antiaircraft fire) was so loud, she says, "you could hardly hear yourself think." On shore, signs such as one saying "Roads Cleared of Mines to the Hedge" directed them to safe paths. Before the invasion, the enemy had littered the coast with mines, explosive devices usually laid underwater or just below the ground that can kill or maim people and destroy ships, tanks, and other equipment when run over or stepped on.

Johnson, a member of the 3rd Auxiliary Surgical Unit, was assigned to the 51st Field Hospital near the town of Saint-LÔ, close to the front lines. She worked at least twelve hours a day, usually more. Cows, abandoned by their owners, followed the nurses, hoping to be milked, bees swarmed the canned peaches in their K-rations, and enemy fire was never far away. One night the Germans bombed the hospital area, and the nurses jumped into slit trenches. "They were all full of this garbage," says Johnson, but "we didn't care."

The Allies had hoped to move quickly inland after the invasion, but they were having a terrible time pushing past the Germans, who had taken cover behind Normandy's tall, thick hedgerows. Finally, in late July, the frustrated Allies launched a massive air attack near Saint-LÔ, and the German lines began to crumble.

Text copyright © 1999 by Betsy Kuhn

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

TIME LINE

MAP OF EUROPE AND NORTH AFRICA

MAP OF THE PACIFIC THEATER

1941

"WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?"


MILDRED IRENE CLARK: "IT'S MANEUVERS"

AN ORDEAL IN THE PHILIPPINES: THE JAPANESE ATTACK

CHRISTMAS/HANUKKAH, 1941

THE ARMY NURSE CORPS IN WORLD WAR II

1942

REPORTING FOR DUTY


THE 95TH EVACUATION HOSPITAL: "YOU ARE NEEDED NOW"

AN ORDEAL IN THE PHILIPPINES: SURRENDER

ALICE IN THE PACIFIC: ANTHILLS SIX FEET TALL

THE 48TH SURGICAL HOSPITAL: THE 48TH WADES ASHORE

CHRISTMAS/HANUKKAH, 1942

1943

DANGEROUS WATERS, DANGEROUS GROUND


THE 95TH EVACUATION HOSPITAL: WELCOME TO THE WAR

AN ORDEAL IN THE PHILIPPINES: A CAPTIVE EXISTENCE

ALICE IN THE PACIFIC: TWO HELMETS A DAY

A FLIGHT NURSE'S STORY: BEHIND ENEMY LINES

CHRISTMAS/HANUKKAH, 1943

1944

"THE RAIN BEATING DOWN, THE GUNS FIRING"


A FLIGHT NURSE'S STORY: A VERY GOOD CHOCOLATE BAR

THE 95TH EVACUATION HOSPITAL: "HELL'S HALF-ACRE"

THE 128TH EVACUATION AND 51ST FIELD HOSPITALS:

D DAY, JUNE 6, 1944

THE 95TH EVACUATION HOSPITAL: BONJOUR, FRANCE!

THE 128TH EVACUATION AND THE 51ST FIELD HOSPITALS:

THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE

ALICE IN THE PACIFIC: TO TACLOBAN

AN ORDEAL IN THE PHILIPPINES: SLOW HUNGER

CHRISTMAS/HANUKKAH, 1944

1945

"A CREDIT TO MY COUNTRY"


AN ORDEAL IN THE PHILIPPINES: FREEDOM

THE 51ST FIELD HOSPITAL: INTO THE LAND OF THE ENEMY

THE 95TH EVACUATION AND 51ST FIELD HOSPITALS:

THE HORROR OF THE CAMPS

ALICE IN THE PACIFIC: THE WAR'S NOT OVER YET

NOW THAT IT'S OVER

BIBLIOGRAPHY

ENDNOTES

INDEX

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