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Nurses were in the front line, specifically American nurses. They followed the army after their landing on D-Day, and slept outside in wind, rain, and artillery shells. I read a story in my research of one particular nurse while bathing who had used her helmet to scoop water onto herself. Shelling began, and she immediately sat naked in the tub with the helmet firmly planted on her head. Nurses were on the front lines, scooping up intestines and putting them back in place. American nurses during the winter of 1944 were following troops to the dragon's teeth, the area where the Battle of Hurtgen Forest took place.
The Navy recruited women, left and right but the US army never officially did. While researching there were some harrowing first person accounts.
Some had their nose blown off; some had no jaw; some were sans chin, nose and jaw; and a few had only a forehead left. I went through this ward and stood in amazement and perfect wonder how these valiant nurses dealt with the problem of feeding these cases. Most of them were tube fed, and hours were spent getting nourishment into them. Some were so horribly disfigured they were in a private area from the others. I gnashed my teeth at war. These are the living dead, who will spend the rest of their lives in a closed section of some Stateside hospital. The fatal bullet was more merciful.
Despite the hardships of war many women were drawn to the pay and the experience. After school several signed contracts stating that they would become nurses where needed in the local areas. The government needed this, one because there was an alarming shortage of medical personnel in the USA during the war, and two because they wanted to be assured that those who were working as nurses in the war would use that training apart from the US Army.
Nurses used Sulfanilamide, a sulfa drug that is credited with saving countless lives. Soldiers were taught to sprinkle it on every open wound. Penicillin was also used to save lives. Plasma was also a technique to replace blood loss in the body, and morphine was available to inject on the pain site.
"Dear God, please bring those boys back to us alive and well. But if they are hurt, give us strength, courage, and wisdom to be ready to help them." And when the men did arrive needing help, she said, "it made me feel mighty proud to do my little bit in helping to take care of them."
More nursing history can be found at the Museum of Nursing History in Pennsylvania.
See a replica of Florence Nightingale’s dress in the Atrium of St. Benilde Tower and an enlarged framed letter from Miss Nightingale to Alice Fisher, Foundress of the Philadelphia General Hospital School of Nursing, “Old Blockley,” (Christmas 1877). Read student ledgers from the turn of the century, a World War I Diary, or find your nursing school’s yearbook.
There are a ton of books out there, and if you are a bibliophile like me you can't seem to get enough of all of them. I'm a writer too, so I love researching with primary sources, and reading historical fiction that ties into those primary sources. I'm currently working on something about Germany 1944. But, I wanted to share with you some awesome reads that will get you going this weekend.
I haven't read this yet but the following Goodreads synopsis pulled me in with this:
For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.
Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life.
Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.
The Blitz, when England was under siege and torn apart by the Nazi's.
For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge—and the greatness that rose to meet it.
London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.
Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.
In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character, Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.
Paris, ahh! Paris in the 1940s-not just ahh, but more like Holy S***!!! Another one of these to add to my list. I have to read this.
A stunning debut novel of a young American woman who becomes a spy in Paris during World War II.
May 1940. Fleeing a glamorous Manhattan life built on lies, Claire Harris arrives in Paris with a romantic vision of starting anew. But she didn't anticipate the sight of Nazi soldiers marching under the Arc de Triomphe. Her plans smashed by the German occupation, the once- privileged socialite's only option is to take a job in a flower shop under the tutelage of a sophisticated Parisian florist.
In exchange for false identity papers, Claire agrees to aid the French Resistance. Despite the ever-present danger, she comes to love the enduring beauty of the City of Light, exploring it in the company of Thomas Grey, a mysterious Englishman working with the Resistance. Claire's bravery and intelligence make her a valuable operative, and slowly her values shift as she witnesses the courageous spirit of the Parisians.
But deception and betrayal force her to flee once again-this time to fight for the man she loves and what she knows is right-praying she has the heart and determination to survive long enough to one day see Paris again.
So there you go! Three books to read this weekend, to help me get into the 1940s mood.
Have you read them?
Do you have any others ideas of WWIII historical fiction?
(PS I'm a huge OUTLANDER fan already)
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