They Called Them Angels: American Military Nurses of World War II

By Kathi Jackson | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
The Mediterranean Theater

When they reached land, they rolled up their slacks and waded ashore.

They spent that first night on the beach, eating canned rations and drinking water from their canteens. Eventually, some were taken by jeep to a three-story building that had been turned into a hospital. There were wounded men everywhere, some French, some American, some Arab. One American tugged at the hem of Nurse Ruth Haskell's slacks and asked for a drink of water. As she lifted his head to let him drink from her canteen, she asked, "Where are you hurt?" The man gasped. "An American woman! Where did you come from?"

-- Shaaron Cosner War Nurses

This interchange probably happened hundreds of times throughout the war, and one can only imagine the comfort and appreciation GIs felt when seeing an American nurse. Ruth Haskell, whose unit served in North Africa during the first days of Operation TORCH (the invasion of North Africa, November 8, 1942), wrote, "There has never been a time in my life that I was so proud to be a nurse, to be able to help."1 And she was just the tonic the men needed. Known as one of the cheeriest nurses on duty, Haskell shouted her patients awake each morning saying, "Wake up, you great, big, beautiful things." Instead of asking to take a pulse, she'd say, "Let me hold your hand."2

The Allied invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy opened the door to Europe and captured bases on Casablanca, Oran, and Port Lyautey that provided protection for Allied shipping. When Allied forces moved successfully to Algeria and Tunisia, they once again had access to the Suez Canal and British oil resources in the Middle East.

-51-

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They Called Them Angels: American Military Nurses of World War II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Note xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Notes xx
  • Chapter 1 Uncle Sam Wants You! 1
  • Notes 6
  • Chapter 2 from Whites to Fatigues 7
  • Notes 15
  • Chapter 3 Following the Troops 17
  • Notes 21
  • Chapter 4 the Pacific Theater 23
  • Notes 47
  • Chapter 5 the Mediterranean Theater 51
  • Notes 62
  • Chapter 6 the European Theater 65
  • Notes 82
  • Appendix 6a: Rain on A Tent in Normandy 85
  • Appendix 6b: China Doll 86
  • Appendix 6c: the Gardelegen Barn 88
  • Appendix 6d: Second Lieutenant Frances Y. Slanger 92
  • Chapter 7 the China-Burma-India Theater 93
  • Notes 97
  • Chapter 8 the United States and Western Atlantic Minor Theaters 99
  • Notes 106
  • Appendix 8a: Nursing in A Stateside Burn Ward 107
  • Chapter 9 Wild Blue Yonder 109
  • Notes 117
  • Appendix 9a: Tales of An Air Force Nurse 119
  • Chapter 10 Life at Sea 121
  • Notes 135
  • Chapter 11 Camaraderie and Romance 139
  • Notes 152
  • Chapter 12 Leaving a Legacy 155
  • Notes 169
  • Appendices 171
  • Notes 182
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index 207
  • About the Author 213
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