Sunday, May 1, 2011

Muriel Phillips: U.S. Army Nurse. At the Battle of the Bulge.

Muriel Phillips during the Battle of the Bulge. The blackjack is in her right hand and the switchblade in her left pocket, both gifts from wounded GIs in case the Germans came too close.

Section of the 16 general tent hospital, courtesy of Muriel Phillips Engelman.

"In December 1944, six months after the Normandy invasion, the buzz bombs were still falling all over Liege, but now something even worse was on the horizon. German troops launched a sudden surprise attack that managed to push U.S. troops backward, making a bulge in the troop line, in what was called the Ardennes Offensive, more commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge.

"The tent hospital became more crowded than ever with wounded GIs, and the Germans were coming closer and closer. Muriel had more to worry about than most of the other nurses. Her dog tag -- the metal identification tags that every serviceman or -woman was required to wear at all times -- had an "H" on it, for Hebrew. Muriel was Jewish, and she understood what the Nazis would do to her if they were able to capture her.

"On Christmas Eve, the Germans were only 10 miles from Liege. The sickest patients were evacuated to hospitals in France or England, away from the fighting. The wounded GIs who remained in the tent hospital were concerned for the safety of their nurses and often urged the nurses to take their places in the evacuation vehicles. None of the nurses did so, of course. Muriel received two "presents" from her protective patients that week. One was a blackjack, a type of weapon made out of rubber hosing and lead sinkers, and the other was a switchblade. Muriel had no idea if she would be able to follow the instructions that accompanied her gifts if approached by a German (the blackjack was to be slapped across his eyes and the switchblade plunged into his abdomen), but she was grateful for her patients' concern."

Excerpt from Women Heroes of World War II: "Muriel Phillips: U.S. Army Nurse."

Muriel's Memoir: Mission Accomplished: Stop the Clock.

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