Sunday, June 5, 2011

U.S. Army Nurses: Work, Play, and Song

U.S. Army nurse Muriel Phillips in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge with two "weapons" given her by concerned G.I. patients (a blackjack in her right hand, and a switchblade in her left pocket).

Excerpt from Muriel P. Engleman's memoir, "Mission Accomplished: Stop the Clock."

"For many of our GI patients, we were the first American women they had seen in months or years, and this was even more exciting for them than sleeping on a bed with a mattress and clean sheets (something they had not experienced since they left the States). I remember one patient who had grown so accustomed to sleeping in his foxhole that he could not adjust to the luxury of a bed. I would find him each morning, curled up on the cement floor next to his bed. The American soldiers were so grateful for our just being there, and they worried more about our safety than their own. As harrowing as our existence was, it was still a very satisfying one, because we were doing what we came overseas to do.

"And we still had our social life when off duty, whether it was visiting friends at another post or just being in our own Officers' Club tent, dancing to the jukebox, writing letters, playing cards, or singing. Old songs, new songs, parodies ridiculing army brass -- we sang wherever we were. Someone would raise his voice in song, and soon everyone had joined in . . ."

Excerpt from page 54 of Muriel P. Engelman's memoir, Mission Accomplished: Stop the Clock.

(Women Heroes of WWII contains a chapter on Muriel's wartime experiences and it she who is leading the army nurses seen marching across the cover of the book).

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