My Great Aunt Mabel was a nurse in the Army Nursing Corps during World War II. She wrote dozens of letters home to her family and a few years ago my mom gave me copies of them. The locations from which she sent them tell a story of their own: Camp Hale, Colorado; Charleston, SC; San Francisco, CA; Somewhere on the West Coast; Somewhere on the Pacific; Australia; New Guinea; Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea; In a Hospital Ship on the High Seas; Manila, PI; Clark Field, Luzon. Her letters are a fascinating glimpse of a woman I don't remember meeting -- of that time in her life, as well as that period in our nation's history. In fact, they were the inspiration for a central character in the book I'm currently (re-)writing. It seemed appropriate to post excerpts from a couple of them today, Memorial Day. So we don't forget.
This is the beginning of the first one she wrote:
Jan. 12th, 1943
This is the army sure enough and it is everything they said and more. So far we have gotten a tremendous kick out of it all – certainly is different. The place is so new it isn’t completed by a long ways. They are beginning to get more and more supplies now so expect the worst is over. The first nurses came about Nov. 26th and there wasn’t a thing they say. They really started from scratch! All they had was aspirin. They were so happy when they finally got some sulfathiazole.
[Note: Sulfathiazole is a sulfa drug once widely used to treat bacterial infections. In a letter dated Nov. 1944, from the 247th
Here's another one from when she was still stateside:
Nov. 6th, 1943
Over last week end we got orders to evacuate all or as many as we could of our patients to other general hospitals. This place seemingly will be a debarkation hospital and we were to get ready for a convoy… hospital ship full of casualties from overseas. So Monday A.M. early we took about 200 patients to Lawson General near