World War II Army Flight Nurses – 10 Feb 2019

The Aerial Nurse Corps of America
Part 7

Undeterred by the American Nurses Association (ANA) rejection of the Aerial Nurse Corps of America (ANCOA), Schimmoler again set her sights on military support of the ANCOA. In July 1942, with approximately 400 of her ANCOA nurses on duty with the armed forces, Schimmoler corresponded with Brigadier General David N. W. Grant, Air Surgeon for the Army Air Forces, United States Army:

David N.W. Grant, Air Surgeon, Army Air Forces [USAF Photo]

Frankly, General, I have almost begun to think that I am another Billy Mitchell. I have not, however, given up hope that some how some way that your department will embark upon the creation of a school for nurses for air ambulance duty and that we [ANCOA] might be accorded the consideration of doing our part in the operations of this school. I feel this department should be separate apart from the regular Army Nurse Corps and be attached as a special unit of the Air Forces. …

      There isn’t a question in my mind, with the interest there exists in this field, that if we had the support and authority needed, that we could create an Air ambulance unit that you could well be proud of. 1

In his reply Grant informed Schimmoler that

      The question of aerial evacuation with the armed forces is now in the formative stage. Nurses will be assigned from the Army Nurse Corps for this work. Many nurses who have had prior experience with the airlines are available for this purpose. Evacuation, as contemplated, is of the mass type during actual combat.

      There are many vacancies in the Army Nurse Corps, which members of your association can join. Nurses are not being recruited specifically for aerial duty, but are being earmarked for this duty when the need arises. …

      I hope this answers your question. 2

A month later, Grant and members of the Army Surgeon General’s Office accepted a plan for a workable air evacuation system designed by Colonel Wood S. Woolford, the first Air Transport Command (ATC) Surgeon. Grant submitted the plan to the Air Staff in July 1942 and received approval to begin its implementation. Because of a shortage of airplanes, the plan incorporated the evacuation of casualties into the duties of the Troop Carrier Command whose tactical mission was to fly men and equipment into combat areas and of the ATC responsible for strategic flights between overseas locations and the United States. These transport planes, when outfitted with litter installations, could be converted into air ambulances for the return trip once troops and cargo were offloaded, putting to humanitarian use planes that would have returned to their bases empty. An interesting feature of Woolford’s plan was the employment of 103 female flight nurses. 3 At the time, only females served as Army nurses. Although the Army had male nurses, they were not commissioned as officers but rather were classified as nurses at the induction centers and assigned in the Medical Department of the Army as enlisted medical technicians. 4 Like the Army nurses assigned to ground medical facilities, the flight nurses would hold the relative initial rank and wear the insignia of second lieutenant. Not until 10 July 1944 did a presidential Executive Order appoint nurses as commissioned officers of the United States Army with the corresponding rights, benefits, and privileges accorded male officers.

Over the next five months, events happened quickly in the development of the air evacuation system in which Army flight nurses would participate. In September 1942 the 38th Medical Air Ambulance Squadron, a “paperwork” organization initially numbering only one officer and a few enlisted men that had been activated at Fort Benning, Georgia the previous May, was transferred to Bowman Field in Louisville, Kentucky. Bowman Field was chosen because of its proximity to the First Troop Carrier Command headquarters in Indianapolis just over a hundred miles north and because it already had some facilities in place as the former site of the Medical Officer Training School. 5

Upon its arrival, the squadron, now counting two officers and 138 enlisted men among its personnel, was assigned to the First Troop Carrier Command, which had been delegated responsibility for organizing and training air evacuation groups, and was attached to the base hospital. The 38th Medical Air Ambulance Squadron, which became part of the Army Air Forces, was re-designated the 507th Air Evacuation Squadron, Heavy, three days later and served as the nucleus for the air evacuation system. Flight nurses were among the 507th personnel. The 349th Air Evacuation Group activated at Bowman Field on 7 October incorporated the 507th Air Evacuation Squadron, Heavy, and three new units – the 620th and 621st Air Evacuation Squadrons, Heavy, and the 622nd Air Evacuation Squadron, Light, all activated on 11 November. 6 “Heavy” squadrons were those that would fly multi-engine cargo transport planes; the “Light” squadrons were to have their own smaller single-engine airplanes capable of carrying no more than three patients. The “Light” squadron idea was abandoned eventually, because these planes were going to the Navy rather than to the Army Air Forces. 7 Table of Organization 8-447 issued in tentative form in November 1942 and finalized in February of the next year established the Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron with a headquarters section that included commanding flight nurse and chief nurse; and four evacuation flights of six flight nurses and six enlisted surgical technicians, each flight commanded by a flight surgeon. Flight teams consisting of one flight nurse and one surgical technician were to be placed aboard transport planes as needed, and when personnel were short or when casualty loads exceeded available teams, the flight nurse and the surgical technician could fly in separate planes. 8

The Army Surgeon General, who was always short of nurses, opposed the decision to use female flight nurses, but the Air Surgeon felt that flight nurses should be used in the air evacuation program, since they were the most highly trained medical personnel available for these missions. After the war, Colonel Erhling Bergquist, who had been Command Surgeon for the Ninth Troop Carrier Command and later for the First Troop Carrier Command in Europe during the war, defended the decision: “We felt that if in this country a group of healthy individuals could fly around in commercial airlines having a nurse attend them, our wounded certainly were entitled to the same consideration.” 9 He was referring to the airline policy before the war to hire only registered nurses as flight attendants. When the need for nurses to work in civilian hospitals and to serve in the armed forces became urgent during World War II, the airlines substituted college education for a nursing diploma as a prerequisite for work as a stewardess. 10

During the months when the air evacuation program was being organized, the Office of the Air Surgeon received letters from nurses inquiring about air evacuation duty. United Airline stewardesses from California, a nurse from New York who was working toward her private pilot’s license, nurses from Georgia, Louisiana, and Nebraska, and a congressman in Washington, DC – likely on behalf of some of his constituents – all wrote to the Air Surgeon to request applications for and particulars about this new field of nursing. Replies contained essentially the same information: All nurses for air evacuation units would be obtained from nurses of the Army Nurse Corps, and to be eligible for air evacuation duty, a nurse must enter the Army Nurse Corps through the usual channels. Nurses were not accepted exclusively for air ambulance work, but volunteers would be assigned to this duty at a later date when the need arose. War Department Memorandum No. W40-10-42 dated 21 December 1942 spelled out the qualifications for air evacuation nurses and the application procedure to be followed. Only those applicants who were members of the Army Nurse Corps would be favorably considered. Applicants had to be twenty-one to thirty-six years old with a weight between 105 and 135 pounds, had to be physically qualified for flying, and had to certify willingness “to be placed under orders requiring frequent and regular participation in aerial flights”. 11

Starting in October 1942, marriage did not make a nurse ineligible for military service. Single nurses who married while on active duty remained in the military at the discretion of the Surgeon General and, generally speaking, only physical disability and incompetence were grounds for dismissal. By the end of the year, married nurses who met all other requirements for military service could join the Army Nurse Corps. Every nurse agreed to serve for the duration of the war plus six months. By default, a married nurse retained her maiden name while in service unless she specifically requested a name change. 12

As the war continued, the need for an air evacuation system overseas became more urgent. At Bowman Field on 10 December 1942 the 507th, 620th, and 621st Aeromedical Evacuation Squadrons, Heavy, were re-designated the 801st, 802nd, and 803rd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadrons [MAETS] as outlined in Table of Organization 8-447. 13 The 801st and 802nd squadrons, which included flight nurses among their members, were hastily trained in the essentials of air evacuation – an “admittedly meager and inadequate” preparation for the work ahead. 14 One 802 MAETS flight nurse recalled that at Bowman Field

The curriculum was nowhere near complete – except for Chemical Warfare – “GAS will be used in this war” was repeated time and again and with emphasis by Captain Gray – and we learned all there was about the recognition of the various gases, how to put on a gas mask and how to treat patients who were contaminated. That class, physical exercises, and marching rounded out our brief education. 15

On Christmas Day 1942 the first of these squadrons, the 802 MAETS, departed Bowman Field for North Africa to provide air evacuation support for the Tunisian Campaign. 16 Former stewardess Ellen Church, now recovered from an automobile accident and a lieutenant in the United States Army, was among the flight nurses in that organization. 17 Just over three weeks later the 801 MAETS left Bowman Field for the South Pacific where American troops were still engaged in the battle of Guadalcanal. 18 Flight nursing in the United States Army Air Forces had become a reality.

To be continued

Notes

1          Lauretta M. Schimmoler, letter to David N.W. Grant, 24 Jul 1942.
2          David N. W. Grant, letter to Lauretta M. Schimmoler, 3 Aug 1942.
3          Wood S. Woolford, letter to Victor A. Byrne, 17 Jul 1942. [AFHRA 280.93–5]; “History of the School of Air Evacuation,” 1 Aug 1943, 2-4. [AFHRA 280.93–3]; “History of the School of Air Evacuation,” n.d., in “School of Air Evacuation,” Army Air Base, Bowman Field, KY, 9 Dec 1940–Apr 1944; Jan 1944–Jun 1945, 1-3. [AFHRA 280.93–12 v.2]; Robert F. Futrell, Development of Aeromedical Evacuation in the USAF, 1909–1960. Historical Studies No. 23 (Maxwell AFB, AL: USAF Historical Division, Research Studies Institute, Air University; Manhattan, KS: Military Affairs/Aerospace Historian, 1960), 73–74.
4          “Men Nurses and the Armed Services,” American Journal of Nursing 43 (Dec 1943): 1066–69.
5          Mae M. Link and Hubert A. Coleman, Medical Support of the Army Air Forces in World War II (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955), 367.
6          “Medical History, I Troop Carrier Command,” 30 Apr 1942–31 Dec 1944, 50–52. [AFHRA 250.740]
7          Ibid.; “History of the School of Air Evacuation,” 1 Aug 1943, 2–4. [AFHRA 280.93–3]; Futrell, Aeromedical Evacuation, 73–74.
8          Frederick R. Guilford and Burton J. Soboroff, “Air Evacuation: An Historical Review,” Journal of Aviation Medicine 18 (Dec 1947): 609; Futrell, Aeromedical Evacuation, 78–79; “Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron,” Table of Organization No. 447, War Department, Washington, DC, 15 Feb 1943.
9          Erling Berquist [Ehrling Bergquist], “Discussion,” in David N. W. Grant, “Air Evacuation Activities,” Journal of Aviation Medicine 18 (Feb–Dec 1947): 182–83.
10        “Fly Again!” RN (Dec 1945): 40; “Nurses Released From Airline Positions,” Trained Nurse and Hospital Review 108 (Mar 1942): 207–208; “Discontinued for the Duration,” Trained Nurse and Hospital Review 108 (Apr 1942): 268; “War-Time Needs Come First,” American Journal of Nursing 42 (Apr 1942): 449–50; “Airline Nurse Stewardesses Released,” American Journal of Nursing 42 (May 1942): 577–78.
11       “Nurses for Air Evacuation Service,” Memorandum No. W40-10–42, War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, 21 Dec 1942.
12       “Married Nurses Retained in the Army,” American Journal of Nursing 42 (Nov 1942): 1322; “Married Nurses for the Army Nurse Corps,” American Journal of Nursing 42 (Dec 1942): 1451; “Married Nurses in the Army,” American Journal of Nursing 43 (Apr 1943): 306.
13       “Post Diary,” Air Base Headquarters, Bowman Field, Louisville, KY, Dec 1940–Aug 1945, 49. [AFHRA 280.93–1]
14       Futrell, Aeromedical Evacuation, 80.
15       Clara Morrey Murphy, “First unabridged rough draft of Symposium speech, Nov 12, 1992, 50th Anniversary.” [AMEDD]
16       “Medical History, 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Squadron,” 10 Dec 1942–30 Jun 1944, [1]. [AFHRA MED-802-HI]
17       Church, who had been chief stewardess for Boeing Air Transport for eighteen months, was grounded following an automobile accident.
18       “Post Diary,” Air Base Headquarters, Bowman Field, Louisville, KY, Dec 1940–Aug 1945, 51. [AFHRA 280.93–1]

 

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 12 Jan 2019

The Aerial Nurse Corps of America
Part 6

To avoid possible misunderstandings of Aerial Nurse Corps of America (ANCOA) activities, by 1939 its founder, pilot Loretta Schimmoler, had appointed a registered nurse, Ruth G. Mitchell, as Chief of Staff. In August 1939 Mitchell explained to delegates of the California State Nurses’ Association meeting in San Francisco, “This has always been the plan of the Founder to have some one direct the Nursing activities and thus to meet all the requirements of the Nursing standards.” She emphasized, “This is wholly a nursing project and is designed to serve the daily needs of the public through aeronautical means,” glossing over the fact that Schimmoler was a pilot but not a nurse. After reviewing how and why ANCOA was founded and reiterating its aims, Mitchell outlined a plan to forge a link between ANCOA and the state nurses’ associations:

Advisory Councillors are to be chosen in each State and will thereby represent her respective State Nurses Association. They will act as advisors within the ranks of the Aerial Nurse Corps on professional requirements, as well as mediators within the Association for future demands to be made in aviation for the safety of the nurse, the patient and the aircraft operator.

She then recommended that the California State Nurses’ Association establish an advisory council to investigate ANCOA, accept it as a nursing project, and endorse its activities. Recognition by the American Nurses Association (ANA) was the ultimate goal:

The passing of the recent Nurse Practice Act gives the California State Nurses Association the right to determine who is qualified to care for the sick on land, in hospitals, homes etc., and it is only logical for them to also determine who is qualified to care for the sick in the air and for all aviation activities. The establishing of this Advisory Council for the Aerial Nurse Corps will make this possible and through the council the standards for future aeronautical nursing will thus be determined by a recognized nursing board. 1

While Mitchell was courting the California State Nurses’ Association, Mary Beard, Director of Nursing of the American Red Cross (ARC), continued to express her concern about ANCOA activities. She presented a report on that organization at a meeting of the Board of Directors for the ANA in January 1940, carefully pointing out that Schimmoler, who founded ANCOA, was not a nurse. After stating the purposes of ANCOA and summarizing facts on the organization gleaned from the literature and from correspondence, Beard stressed that

      There is no connection, formal or informal, between the American National Red Cross and the Aerial Nurse Corps of America, Inc. This should be borne in mind, inasmuch as one may read in the pamphlet from which I have just been quoting such a statement as the following: “The Aerial Nurse Corps should be called into service through the American Red Cross, the Army, the Navy, or any other civic or military group placed in charge at the time the emergency should arise.”

Concerning Schimmoler’s attempts to receive the backing of the ANA, Beard wrote:

In at least two of the states an approach has been made to the state nurses’ association, and these state nurses’ associations have considered the appointment of an advisory committee on the ANCOA. I am unable to say whether or not such advisory committees are now active, or even that they were ever actually appointed.

Beard closed her report with a reference to the military’s view on flight nursing:

On more than one occasion during the past two years there have been conferences about aerial nursing between the representatives of the Army Nurse Corps, the Navy Nurse Corps, and the American Red Cross. Each time the Nursing Service of the Red Cross has been assured that neither the Army nor the Navy wishes to request any special action in regard to the services of nurses in the air. 2

As recommended by Mitchell, the California State Nurses’ Association appointed an Advisory Committee to ANCOA. A copy of the committee report on ANCOA letterhead dated 14 October 1940 reflects the influence of the ambitious Schimmoler in its list of seven recommendations that included:

1. We recommend the approval and recognition of the Aerial Nurse Corps of America for the development of an aviation department for the nursing profession under the National Defense Program.

2. Recommendation to the C.S.N.A. for the formal approval of the standards and enrollment of the Aerial Nurse Corps of America which includes membership in the American Nurses Association and the American Red Cross Nursing Service.

3. Recommendation for the creation of an Aerial Nurse Corps roster in the Red Cross Nursing files for any and all forms of aviation duty for national emergency under the direction of the American Red Cross.

Across the top of a copy of the recommendations Badger had written “Miss Beard – This is the one I refused to sign. GLB.” 3

Badger, who was a member of the advisory committee, sent Beard copies of recent correspondence between herself and Schimmoler. “I think that great confusion exists and in my letter I have tried to clarify my position as a member of the Advisory Committee which was appointed by the California State Nurses’ Association,” Badger explained. 4 Writing to Badger, Schimmoler had implied that Emily K. Eck, the chairman of a Special Committee appointed by the ANA, had asked her – Schimmoler – to appoint a committee to confer with this Special Committee. Schimmoler continued:

Inasmuch as they have asked us to appoint a committee to confer with the Special Committee in the ANA, and inasmuch as we already have a functioning committee in the CSNA – ANCOA Advisory Committee, we believe it is only fitting and proper that this Committee represent ANCOA before the A.N.A. Committee. 5

Badger’s reply to Schimmoler left no doubt as to her own feelings on the matter:

It is evident there is confusion regarding the relationship of the C.S.N.A. Advisory Committee to the A.N.C.O.A. and of its individual members.

First of all, I wish to make clear my relationship to the A.N.C.O.A. by stating the following facts:

I am a member of the California State Nurses’ Association and as such I was appointed by the State Association on the Advisory Committee to the A.N.C.O.A. I am not a member of the A.N.C.O.A.

From your letter it is my understanding that the chairman of a Special Committee appointed by the American Nurses’ Association has written you, asking you to appoint a committee to confer with this Special Committee. It would seem to me that such a committee is intended to be composed of members of the A.N.C.O.A.

In view of the above, I am returning unsigned the recommendations which you attached for my signature. 6

In wording similar to that found in the 14 October 1940 report, one of the six recommendations to which Badger referred included “The creation of an Aerial Nurse Corps roster in the American Red Cross Nursing files for any and all forms of aviation duty in national emergency under the direction of the American Red Cross Nursing Service”. 7 In a 30 October letter to Beard in which Badger enclosed these recommendations dated 26 October, Badger shared yet another way in which Schimmoler was trying to situate her organization under the aegis of the ARC – and was “working the crowd”:

In talking to some of the younger nurses during the California State Nurses’ Convention I was told that Miss Schimmoler had suggested that when they send their applications to us for enrollment they indicate that they would prefer service in the Aerial Nurse Corps. I explained to the nurses that their applications would be returned to them since at present the only provision we have is for a Reserve for the Army and Navy. 8

The Special Committee of the ANA to confer with the ANCOA met on several occasions. It reviewed correspondence with ANCOA as well as organizational and other aviation literature. The chair of the committee, Emily Eck, provided an outline of content for the training of aviation nurses. 9 The committee members consulted airline company officials and arranged conferences with several people, among them the superintendents of the Army and Navy nurse corps. Of particular interest in the notes that Dunbar forwarded to Beard was the report that Schimmoler apparently was willing to step down from her leadership position of ANCOA and leave it in the hands of nurses as soon as she felt that the organization could take care of itself. Schimmoler was not likely to disappear from the scene, however, as Dunbar explained:

The nurses in the group are quite concerned to find the proper way for Miss Schimmoler to continue to give what they consider her great contribution, especially in the field of the construction of aeroplanes for transporting sick people safely. A great deal was made of the fact that the ideal place for Miss Schimmoler would be on a national advisory committee to the Red Cross on the use of planes in disaster. 10

After very careful consideration of the information obtained, the Special Committee of the ANA to confer with the ANCOA made the following recommendations:

I. That formal recognition of the ANCOA in its efforts to develop aviation instruction and training for the nursing profession, be withheld for the following reasons:

(a) The ANCOA is non-professional in that its president is a lay person person – not a nurse. …

(b) The training which the ANCOA nurses are receiving at the present time, in the opinion of the committee, does not prepare them adequately for the nursing service they would be expected to render in the event of disaster. …

II. That in view of the above recommendations, the ANA advise that the State Advisory Committees to the ANCOA, which have been appointed, be dissolved.

III. That if the ANCOA should reorganize and select as its president, a qualified nurse, the ANA consider ways and means of developing a close affiliation with that organization.

IV. That a short course of instruction designed to prepare graduate nurses for nursing service in the air, be made available to qualified nurses. …

V. That the National League of Nursing Education be asked to develop an outline for such a course.

VI. That the outline be sent to the American Red Cross for trial in several of the Red Cross Chapters to determine its effectiveness.

VII. That recommendation IV be referred to the Nursing Council on National Defense.

VIII. That the American Red Cross be requested to organize a Reserve of nurses, qualified to constitute an organized group for any and all forms of nursing duties in aviation, in the event of civic or national emergencies. 11

The Special Committee of the ANA to confer with the ANCOA submitted its report to Julia C. Stimson, President of the ANA, on 16 May 1941.

About a week later, Schimmoler appointed Leora Stroup as president of ANCOA. Eileen Newbeck was named to fill Stroup’s position as Detroit Company commander. “CONGRATULATIONS AND SINCEREST GOOD WISHES FOR EVERY SUCCESS AS YOU TAKE OVER WHERE I LEAVE OFF” read a telegram from Schimmoler to Stroup on 24 May 1941, which continued:

HAD IT NOT BEEN A STORMY NIGHT YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN WITH ME FROM THE START IN 1932 WHAT COULD BE MORE APPRORIATE [sic] THAN TO HAVE A FELLOW NINETY NINE FOLLOW IN MY FOOTSTEPS FAITH AND DETERMINATION HAS BROUGHT US THROUGH TOGETHER OYALTY [sic] SHALL KEEP US TOGETHER LOVE=LAURETTA 12

Leora B. Stroup [US Army Medical Dept Museum]

Stroup then submitted a reorganization plan for ANCOA that included the following changes:

1. The organization to be an all-nurse group.
2. Emphasis on greater coordination with all local and national defense organizations.
3. More State Nursing Association Committees as Advisory Committees.
4. A simple form of Constitution and By-Laws adopted to fit the present emergency needs.
5. An effort for increased membership.
6. Lowered membership fees.
7. Simplification of clerical procedures, for leaders of local groups.
8. Monthly educational mimeographed publication on aviation nursing, research and current events to all members.
9. Consideration of the courses of study by local Leagues of Nursing Education with a view toward help and approval.
10. A conference of the nurse-leaders of the Great Lakes area this month.
11. Submitting the new set-up of the organization to the ANA Special Committee to get their help, guidance and support.
12. Formal approval by the Board of Directors of the American Nurses Association. 13

In yet another effort to comply with ANA directives, Schimmoler established the Aviation Emergency Corps, a ground staff of clerks, radio operators, first aid workers, and other women with some experience in the flying industry, separate from the all-nurse component of ANCOA. The newly designated organization would apply itself to home defense by augmenting emergency services at all airports, landing fields, and aircraft factories with persons adequately trained in both aviation and emergency work “in the event of disaster or attempted destruction in time of war”. 14

The Civil Air Patrol, which had been created in December 1941 as a non-combat voluntary auxiliary of the United States military, was another focus of ANCOA collaboration. Stroup, who was the deputy medical officer of the Detroit women’s squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, one of her “pet projects” in aviation, likely used that platform to coordinate ANCOA activities with this national defense organization. By 1942 ANCOA members had joined the ranks of the Civil Air Patrol but maintained some degree of autonomy by gaining permission to wear their own uniforms on which Civil Air Patrol insignia was displayed. 15

With the intent to make more educational resources available for aerial nurses, in the fall of 1941 Stroup began corresponding with Major Harry G. Armstrong, Commandant of the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, Texas and author of Principles and Practice of Aviation Medicine (1939), about adapting the book for the use of ANCOA nurses. With a conditional go-ahead from his publishers, Armstrong gave thought to how the book might be revised. Both he and Stroup must have had second thoughts about their collaboration, however, for Armstrong declared himself unwilling to commit definitely to preparing the book until he had read the outline proposed by Stroup for her chapter on the place of nurses in aviation medicine. Stroup, in the meantime, had been so swamped with work that she was unable to follow through on her contribution to the book. The project apparently was dropped. 16

Changes made in the ANCOA organization were likely too little, too late. The ANA did not revisit the status of ANCOA. Whether this had anything to do with a possible rift between Schimmoler and Stroup involving the ANCOA presidency to which Ruth Nichols of Relief Wings alluded in a letter to Harriet Fleming in 1942 is uncertain. Nichols wrote: “Miss Schimmoler also advised me that a Miss Stroop [sic] from Detroit, who had been appointed president because it was required by the A.N.A. to have a registered nurse head such an organization, had resigned and as she put it, threw the responsibility back in her lap and that she, Miss Schimmoler, was again President!” A letter from Schimmoler to Stroup in June 1942 implies a possible “falling out”: “I had not heard from you for so long that I begin [sic] to think that I would never hear from you again, and sincerely, Leora, I have never had anything to crush me as much as our break in friendship.” 17

Perhaps the lingering discontent of ANA leaders with ANCOA was not only that Schimmoler was not a nurse, but also that, as was the case with Relief Wings, ANCOA threatened to exert unwarranted control over the limited number of nurses available for wartime needs. And the need to mobilize the ARC First Reserve of nurses for military service and to fill resulting civilian vacancies would have taken precedence over continued study of the ANCOA situation. With articles such as “American Nurses – We Are at War!”, “First Reserve Quotas!”, “Nurses, to the Colors!”, and “The Time Is Now!” appearing in 1942 in the American Journal of Nursing, the ANA clearly had more pressing issues occupying its time.

Schimmoler had failed in her efforts to achieve formal ANCOA recognition by the professional nurse organization. Ultimately the rivalry between the two organizations was “much ado about nothing”. But the deliberations and decisions of nurse leaders of the ARC and the ANA concerning Schimmoler and ANCOA offer insight into how nurses sought to maintain control of their profession as America headed toward its involvement in World War II.

To be continued

Notes

1          Ruth G. Mitchell, “The Aerial Nurse Corps of America,” speech given at Meeting of Delegates of the California State Nurses Association, San Francisco, 15 Aug 1939, 4.
2          Mary Beard, “The Aerial Nurse Corps of America, Inc.,” 23 Jan 1940.
3          “Report of the Committee of C.S.N.A.-Advisory Council for A.N.C.O.A.,” 14 Oct 1940.
4          Ida F. Badger, letter to Mary Beard, 30 Oct 1940.
5         Lauretta M. Schimmoler, letter to Ida F. Badger, 28 Oct 1940.
6         Ida F. Badger, letter to Lauretta M. Schimmoler, 30 Oct 1940.
7         Lauretta M. Schimmoler, letter to Ruth G. Mitchell, 26 Oct 1940.
8         Gladyce L. Badger, letter to Mary Beard, 30 Oct 1940.
9         Emily K. Eck, “Course Outline for Aviation Nursing,” [3 May 1941].
10       Virginia M. Dunbar, “Notes on meeting of Aerial Nurse Corps, Saturday, May 3, 1941.”
11       “Special Committee of the ANA to Confer with the Aerial Nurse Corps of America Report.’” [16 May 1941].
12       “Sent to Detroit News Announcing The Annual Dance of the Detroit Group,” 5 Apr 1941.
13       Leora B. Stroup, “Tentative Reorganization Plans,” Aerial Nurse Corps of America, n.d.; Nichols, letter to Fleming, 16 Feb 1942.
14       “The Aerial Nurse Corps of America Announces – Aviation Emergency Corps,” n.d; “Denver Plans to Have Its Own Unit of Aerial Nursing Corps,” Denver Post, 31 Jan 1941.
15       John F. Curry, letter to Lauretta M. Schimmoler, 26 Jan 1942.
16       Leora B. Stroup, letter to Harry G. Armstrong, 11 Oct 1941; Harry G. Armstrong, letter to Leora B. Stroup, 24 Oct 1941; E.F. Williams, letter to Harry G. Armstrong, 31 Oct 1941; Harry G. Armstrong, letter to Leora B. Stroup, 12 Nov 1941; Leora B. Stroup, letter to Harry G. Armstrong, 19 Nov 1941; Harry G. Armstrong, letter to Leora B. Stroup, 24 Nov 1941; Leora B. Stroup, letter to Harry G. Armstrong, 10 Jan 1942.
17       Ruth Nichols, letter to Harriet Fleming, 16 Feb 1942; Lauretta Schimmoler, letter to Leora B. Stroup, 26 Jun 1942.

 

 

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 24 Dec 2018

The Aerial Nurse Corps of America
Part 5

Leaders of the American Red Cross (ARC) had been following the activities of pilot Lauretta Schimmoler and the Aerial Nurse Corps of America (ANCOA) closely ever since her organization had “gotten off the ground” in the 1930s. Officials of the ARC questioned Schimmoler’s motives. First, she continued to imply a connection between the two organizations when in fact the ANCOA was in no way connected with the ARC. Second, Schimmoler was a pilot, not a nurse. Third, she had made enrollment in the First Reserve of the ARC a requirement for membership in the ANCOA. And fourth, Schimmoler had not actually communicated with ARC National Headquarters concerning her organization until 1937. As will be seen below, however, this last point is open to question. These issues were the topics of much correspondence among ARC personnel beginning that same year.

“My Dear Mrs. Carter”, wrote Ida F. Butler, Director of Nursing for the ARC, to the Chief of the Nursing Division, League of Red Cross Societies in Paris, on 30 August 1937, “It is pleasant to receive a letter from you and I am particularly interested in its contents about this Aerial Nurse Corps of America because it has not yet been officially recognized by the American Nurses’ Association, in fact I am quite sure that the President and Founder, Lauretta M. Schimmoler, is not a nurse.”

Butler told Carter that she had written to Mrs. Alma H. Scott, Director of the American Nurses’ Association [ANA], at her New York headquarters not only on the question of the ARC recognizing the ANCOA but also “whether the ANA would take any cognizance of the organization”. Butler’s letter to Carter continued:

The first correspondence indicated that they were going to call the Corps the “American Red Cross of the Air” and, of course, I immediately discussed this with our Legal Advisor because we would not have permitted that title to be used but I notice that they are calling it the “Aerial Nurse Corps of America” so the Red Cross has no reason for complaint except that I believe we should be consulted before they use the membership in the American Red Cross Nursing Service as one of their requirements for an appointment. 1

A few days later on 3 September 1937, Butler wrote to Gladyce L. Badger, Director of Nursing for the Pacific Branch of the ARC, to see if Badger could secure additional information on the ANCOA, particularly an application form. The ARC legal advisor, Mr. Hughes, had advised Butler not to write to Schimmoler directly, as the letter “might be construed and might be used for publicity in a way of which we would not approve”. 2 Because of her position on the Board of Directors of the ANA, Butler had been allowed to read all the confidential information on this organization on file at the Headquarters Office of the ANA in New York City, Butler confided to Badger:

Among the letters on file was one from Miss Nellie Porter who has, I believe, held prominent positions in the California State Nurses’ Association. Miss Porter informs us that the woman in question is a promoter, while lacking culture and education [she] seems to have a certain amount of personality. … I find that among the requirements for admission to the Aerial Nurse Corps is enrollment in the Red Cross Nursing Service. They also require the candidates to have had our courses in First Aid and Life Saving.

In spite of all this there has never been any informational material or any correspondence from Miss Schimmoler. The Army Nurse Corps has also been interested because the name which this organization has taken uses the initials of the Corps “A.N.C.” Also in dividing up the country into Aerial Corps territories they have used “Corps Areas” which is the Army term for the division of the states into Army Corps Areas. 3

On the surface, Butler espoused the official stand of the Army Nurse Corps and the ARC concerning the ANCOA but confidentially shared her own view with Badger that

we have all decided that at the present time we have no interest and certainly no “case” against this organization. Though confidentially I think we might have stepped into this breech and made an offer ahead of this woman to help the commercial planes in selecting well trained nurses for this service. 4

Butler then shared with Carter what she had learned during her visit to the National Headquarters of the ANA:

For your confidential information, I have seen a great deal of correspondence, especially from the Secretary of the California State Nurses’ Association which throws considerable light on the organizer of the [Aerial Nurse] Corps. She is not a nurse, is a great promoter with the ability to attract because of her personality but she is not a woman of either culture or education and it is a very great surprise to me that nurses with high standards of education and enrolled in the Red Cross Nursing Service would be willing to organize with a leader who is not one of their professional group.

After consultation with Mrs. Scott, I have decided to discuss with our Legal Advisor, Mr. Hughes, whether I would in any way be entangling the Red Cross if I were to write to the promoter of this organization, Miss Lauretta M. Schimmoler, expressing my surprise that she would not have communicated with the Director of the Red Cross Nursing Service before making through her literature the requirement that she had made enrollment in the Red Cross Nursing Service one of the requirements for membership in the Corps, and also the requirement that the applicant shall have had the Red Cross First Aid and Life Saving Course. I will make the letter, of course, as friendly as possible and ask for further information as we are interested. 5                

Butler then told Carter that she had spoken with Major Julia C. Flikke, Superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps, about the similarity of the Aerial Nurse Corps to the Army organization. Butler’s understanding was that Flikke had been advised by her commanding officer “that at the present time they should ignore the [ANCOA] organization and not raise the question of the confusion that may eventually ensue because of the use of Army terms”. 6

Writing to medical historian Hubert A. Coleman in March 1945 about the Aerial Nurse Corps of America, Schimmoler recalled that she had communicated with the ARC as early as 1932 in a letter to Clara Noyes, Director of the ARC Nursing Service to inquire

if I were to assemble a number of nurses for the purpose of giving them aeronautical training to equip them for air ambulance duties, if I would be contributing to the service of my country. I was informed that it was doubtful that nurses would ever fly, if so they would probably fly in government airplanes and would not require special training. 7

The wording of Schimmoler’s letter to and reply from Noyes, as Schimmoler later remembered it, resembles the wording of a letter and its reply that she recalled in a separate undated account of ANCOA written after 1944 in which she asked the Army Nursing Service: “’If I were to interest nurses and train them for air duty, would I be rendering my country a service?’ The reply stated in part, ‘I don’t think nurses will ever fly, and if they do, they will fly in government airplanes and won’t need any special training’.” 8  

Whether or not Schimmoler actually had corresponded with the ARC in the 1930s, the growing distress over the activities of Schimmoler and the ANCOA prompted Butler to discuss the matter with the Chairman of the ARC, Admiral Cary T. Grayson. At his request, Butler drafted a letter for his signature to the Surgeon General of the Army, Major General Charles R. Reynolds, stating that the Red Cross stood ready to organize an aerial corps of their nurses if the Surgeon General thought it would be a good plan toward preparedness. 9 Reynolds’s reply discouraged pursuing this option for the time being:

At the present time we look upon nursing in connection with Air Corps activities as a specialty only comparable with certain other features of surgical nursing and do not believe that a special corps of aerial nurses should be trained in the military service or in civil life, especially by an organization independent of the American Red Cross.

We recognize the fact that the airplane will be used as a transportation agency in time of war and it may be that especially in the secondary evacuation in the rear area or the theater of operations and in home territory there may be a need for specially trained nurses. However, this need will not exist, in my opinion, in the combat zone, or at least the employment of women nurses for front line evacuation will not be required. 10

He did recommend, however, that he and Grayson discuss the matter in more detail “first to provide adequately and reasonably to meet known conditions or those to be expected and, more particularly, to forestall activities on the part of unaffiliated auxiliaries in this country in the field which offers more romance than war has ever seen before”. 11

A few months later Schimmoler, who continued to seek Army recognition of the ANCOA, appealed to Major Flikke for support. In her letter Schimmoler included a four-page summary of the objectives and accomplishments of the ANCOA and ended her correspondence with the hope

that this statement of our work and objectives will be of interest to you and convince you that the work warrants your good will. Your suggestions and cooperation are invited, to assist the patriotic young women of this organization to better equip themselves to assist in furthering the interests of commercial aviation in time of peace, and providing for them a definite palce [sic] in the scheme of national defense in the event of a major national emergency. Your suggestions on this last phase of our work are particularly desirable. 12

Flikke’s reply to Schimmoler was not encouraging:

It is of course an undisputed fact that aerial travel is of very vital importance and will become increasingly more so in the future. From your letter and other information that has come to me unofficially during the past few months, it would seem that you have a very well planned organization and if the motive is to care for commercial and aerial transportation, your success is no doubt assured.

In the Army, however, we have a well organized corps of nurses and flying is not unknown to them. I venture to say that the majority of them have experienced the thrill of traveling by air, and when necessary to transport a patient from one section of the country to a hospital some distance away, a doctor and a nurse board a plane and accompany the patient. To us a nurse on a transport plane is like any nurse having a special assignment; such as being a surgical nurse, anesthetist, laboratory technician, etc. In times of peace very few calls are made for such assignments and if we should become involved in a conflict of some kind, any well trained nurse to whom air travel is not distasteful could be so assigned, so that at the present time at least there seems to be no factual justification for a group of nurses being segregated and called aerial nurses. Nor does it seem advisable to have two organizations with such similar nomenclature that confusion may result therefrom.

As you know, the reserve nurses for the Federal services have always been supplied by the American Red Cross – a practice which we hope will always obtain. Perfect harmony and co-operation exist between the Army, Navy and Red Cross, and efficient service has always been rendered. 13

 

Julia Flikke [US Govt Photo]

Again, military recognition of the ANCOA was not granted. Flikke made it clear that the similarity between Schimmoler’s organization and that of the Army was not appreciated. Furthermore, the letter reiterated that nurses supplied to the Army for any military need would come from the ARC First Reserve, not from the ANCOA. Flikke apparently had sent a copy of her letter to Schimmoler, as well as information about the ANCOA, to Butler of the ARC who replied, “After reading it, I am very skeptical about the soundness of the organization and I believe that you and I are following the safe course in not committing ourselves. Your letter in reply to Miss Schimmoler’s was very fine.” 14 

The rejection of her coveted goals only made Schimmoler more determined to succeed, as Mary Beard, who had succeeded Butler as Director of Nursing of the ARC, soon discovered. In a letter to Mr. Hughes, the legal advisor, Beard expressed her concern that the ANCOA organization’s activities

have been growing more and more aggressive. Miss Schimmoler, who is not a nurse, is being almost Deified as the great founder of this organization. The disconcerting thing is that she is using the Red Cross to advertise her project, using it in little “un-get-at-able” ways such as a notice of a meeting, when on the first line appears “Red Cross Nurses” and then in smaller print “are interested in ***.”

Rather recently we have heard of active efforts to organize in New York where an enrolled Red Cross nurse is helping to promote it. Miss Schimmoler is trying to get a large group within her Aerial Nurse Corps of America to enroll in the Red Cross first reserve. This, of course, is a laudable idea but not when it promotes a nurse reserve outside the Red Cross and which is growing so fast. You remember we consulted both the Army and Navy to know whether they wanted the Red Cross to go in for this sort of a reserve for them and they said no. Would you be willing to talk with me about it again? 15

Beard must have heard directly from Schimmoler shortly thereafter, because a memo from Beard to Hughes dated a month later expressed the double bind in which Beard found herself regarding manipulative tactics employed by the ANCOA leader:

Miss Schimmoler seems determined to “draw” us in regard to this aerial service.

1. If we reply to this letter approving of what these nurses are doing, she will undoubtedly give publicity to this approval.

2. If we do not approve it, she will publish this disapproval and I do not like either position.

      I shall be very grateful for your help. 16

Shortly thereafter, Virginia Dunbar,Beard’s assistant at ARC Headquarters, compiled a summary of statements made about the ANCOA in literature and letters, which she sent to her boss, shedding additional light on Schimmoler’s public relations efforts on behalf of her organization. Dunbar’s cover letter revealed her own opinion on the matter:

As I read all of the material of the Aerial Nurse Corps of America (Newspaper clippings, letters, printed bulletins, etc.) I was impressed with the number of references to the Red Cross. Some of the notices were very short so that a reference to the Red Cross stood out. I felt that the statements were decidedly misleading as they certainly inferred a connection with the Red Cross (and the Army). 17

Armed with the latest information on ANCOA, Beard wrote Schimmoler, stressing the separateness of the two organizations and the role of the Red Cross alone to provide nurses for the military, even for aviation duty:

You were kind enough also to give us assurances of the desire of your group to cooperate fully with our society. There is, we believe, a practical method in which this cooperation may be made effective, namely by exercising constant care to have the public fully appreciate the special and separate fields in which both of our organizations are engaged. As you know, we maintain a reserve of nurses who may be needed for duty with the United States Army and Navy. If and when there be need by these branches of the Government for nurses especially trained in aviation matters, the Red Cross will proceed promptly to meet this need.

In the meantime, it would be unfortunate if those directly connected with nursing and the public in general did not clearly understand the respective services which both of our organizations are fostering. 18

To be continued

Notes

1          Ida F. Butler, letter to Mrs. Maynard L. Carter, 30 Aug 1937.
2          Ida F. Butler, letter to Gladyce L.Badger, 3 Sep 1937.
3          Ibid.
4          Ibid.
5          Ida F. Butler, letter to Mrs. Maynard Carter, 17 Sep 1937.
6          Ibid.
7          Lauretta M. Schimmoler, letter to H.A. Coleman, 22 Mar 1945.
8          Lauretta M. Schimmoler, “The Story of How It All Began: ‘And They Said It Wouldn’t Be Done’,” unpublished manuscript, n.d., 4. [Bucyrus, OH Historical Society]
9         Cary T. Grayson, letter to Charles R. Reynolds, 25 Oct 1937.
10       Charles R. Reynolds, letter to Cary T. Grayson, 29 Oct 1937.
11       Ibid.
12       Lauretta M. Schimmoler, letter to Julia O. Flikke, 23 Apr 1938.
13       Julia O. Flikke, letter to Lauretta M. Schimmoler, 29 Apr 1938.
14       Ida F. Butler, letter to Julia O. Flikke, 28 May 1938.
15       Mary Beard, letter to Mr. Hughes, 31 Mar 1939.
16       Mary Beard, letter to Mr. Hughes, 1 May 1939.
17       Virginia M. Dunbar, letter to Mary Beard, 1 Jun 1939.
18       Mary Beard, letter to Lauretta M. Schimmoler, 7 Jul 1939.

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 1 Dec 2018

The Aerial Nurse Corps of America
Part 4

Detroit Company A of the Third Wing, Fifth Division was one of the more active Aerial Nurse Corps of America (ANCOA) units. 1 Its success may be attributed in large part to the efforts of Company Commander Captain Leora B. Stroup. A registered nurse employed in nursing education, Stroup knew when she saw the female pilots at the National Air Races in Cleveland in 1929 that she, too, wanted to fly. A few years later in 1933 she earned her pilot’s license at the Cleveland Airport, where she met pilot and ANCOA founder Lauretta Schimmoler and, like Schimmoler, later was inducted later into the Ninety-Nines, the national organization of licensed women pilots. 2 Stroup was also a member of the Civil Air Patrol and the National Aeronautic Association and held national offices in ANCOA, serving first as its treasurer and quartermaster and later as its director of nursing. In 1941 Schimmoler appointed Stroup ANCOA president.

ANCOA nurse Margaret Gudobba (left) and Eileen Newbeck (right)
display new flag [USAF Photo]

Stroup described the Detroit Company of ANCOA, the first in the mid-west, as one of her “pet projects”, and by 1939 the company had its full quota of fifty-six women of whom thirty were registered nurses. 3 The rest of the women served supportive roles in first aid and communications. Members met every Wednesday night in the Saint Joseph’s Hospital Training School auditorium for their classes and on Sunday afternoons at the local airport where they made flights with Stroup or with an Army reserve pilot who was assisting the ANCOA unit. Eight of the nurses were themselves pilots, but piloting planes was not an ANCOA duty. Rather, members were taught enough about aviation to determine by ground inspection whether a plane was airworthy and were taught about weather conditions relevant to flight as well. 4

Eileen Newbeck, a member of Detroit Company A, recalled:

We did have a group of Aerial Nurse Corps members. It was controlled by the group over in California, Leora Stroup was the captain of our group. We had military rank. We wore uniforms. It was a grey-blue uniform. We wore a regular overseas cap. We did first aid in the area at all the air meets, whether it was the model air meets and or whether we went up to Cleveland and did the first aid at the National Air Races. We met every month, and we were connected with an airfield. And if there were any patients in the area that needed movement to hospitals or back home, we took them by air. 5

What Newbeck remembers about ANCOA confirms information found in organizational literature and in the press at the time. On the lighter side, ANCOA members had a social life as well. Dancing seemed to be a favorite activity, and Company A was no exception. Newbeck made news in the local paper as the chairman of the committee planning a dance in 1940 to raise money for the national membership campaign. The spring dance appeared to be an annual event not only in Detroit, but also in Dayton, where the first annual aviation ball of the Dayton Tri-Flyers Club, which included ANCOA Company C of Fifth Division, in 1940 drew 500 people and in Los Angeles, where Company A of the First Wing, First Division was sponsor of the annual aviation ball for 1939, in which all aviation organizations in Southern California participated. 6

Declining membership in ANCOA in general and in Detroit Company A in particular may have been a problem as early as 1939, for Stroup told a reporter for the Detroit Evening Times that “the corps served as a recruiting agency for airline hostesses. The Detroit unit has already lost one member to an airline and is about to lose another”. 7 A year later Margaret Quinn, a private duty nurse in Detroit Company A, wrote to the War Department, Michigan Military Area, indicating her willingness to serve her country as part of the United States Army Air Corps, citing her air ambulance work as justification. 8 The wording in this letter suggests the possibility of an ANCOA campaign to seek military flight nurse positions for its members. By 1941 ANCOA had lost Quinn to the United States Army as a nurse stationed at Fort Custer in Michigan. 9 In his January 1941 reply to a letter from Stroup, John G. Slevin, Medical Officer for the United States Army, Headquarters Michigan Military Area, told her that “No doubt, within the next year the first Reserve will be badly depleted by call to extended active duty with the Army. Hence, your organization will lose many of its present members.” He suggested that the ANCOA should continue to function, filling its ranks with American Red Cross (ARC) Second Reserve nurses as an important valuable aid to home defense work. 10

With units like Detroit Company A leading the way, by 1936 the ANCOA had become an active organization, and in 1937 Schimmoler, who was its president and national commander, began to contact key personnel in the United States Army to seek recognition of her flight nurse organization. Schimmoler went straight to the top in an apparent effort to discuss her plans with Brigadier General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, Acting Chief of the Air Corps, who replied:

Just a note to express my regret that I didn’t get a chance to see you while out on the Coast and talk over the program of the Aerial Nurse Corps of America. I hope, however, to discuss the subject with you in detail. I believe there is a place in the scheme of things for such an organization, but just what that place is I will be unable to definitely decide until I know more of the details. 11

Although Schimmoler surely found encouragement in this initial correspondence, it was destined to be short-lived, for a month later when Arnold had learned more of the details, he advised her:

I do believe, however, that inasmuch as the American Red Cross has been designated by law (Army Regulation 850-75) that this organization is in effect in time of emergency an auxiliary aid to the Medical Department of the Army, it would be advisable that you should work in conjunction with that organization. 12

Arnold enclosed a copy of Army Regulation 850-75 “Employment of American National Red Cross” to acquaint Schimmoler with the provisions of this regulation. Arnold’s advice apparently had come indirectly from Major Julia O. Flikke, Army Nurse Corps Superintendent. When Arnold asked Colonel Malcolm C. Grow, Chief of the Medical Section, to draft a reply, Grow in turn sought input from Flikke, whose memo to him used wording that Arnold incorporated into his final letter. Not appearing in Arnold’s letter was Flikke’s belief that “Miss Schimmoler’s plan is very complete and would be of great value if it could be used but it would conflict with the present set up if carried on independently.” 13

Army Regulation 850-75 stated that

The Red Cross serving with the armed forces and under the orders of the President is the only voluntary society authorized to render aid to the Medical Department of the Army. Any other society desiring to render similar aid can do so only through the Red Cross. 14

It was under the aegis of this regulation that the ARC worked closely with the Army Nurse Corps to recruit nurses for service in the Army. Nurses enrolled in the First Reserve of the ARC constituted the pool of qualified applicants from which nurses were drawn to expand the nursing service of the Army as needed. Requirements for enrollment in the ARC First Reserve were stated in that organization’s literature. 15

To be continued

Notes

1          Jean Pearson, “Detroiter Receives Ideal Job,” Detroit Free Press, 6 Oct 1942.
2          “’Flying Nurses’ Train Here for Defense,” Detroit Evening Times, 2 Feb 1939.
3          Mary Eileen Newbeck Christian, interview with author, St. Petersburg, FL, 21 May 1986.
4          Margaret Gudobba, “Michigan Great Lakes Breezes,” ANCOA Flashes 3 (Mar 1940), 6; “Plans Dance,” Detroit Free Press, 27 Apr 1940; Hilda Lackner, “Ohio Air City News,” ANCOA Flashes 3 (Mar 1940), 4; Ruby Lilly, “California Sunshine Co. A – 1st Div.,” ANCOA Flashes 3 (Mar 1940), 7.
5          “’Flying Nurses,’” 2 Feb 1939.
6          Margaret Quinn, letter to War Department, Michigan Military Area, 14 Oct 1940.
7          “Sent to Detroit News Announcing The Annual Dance of the Detroit Group,” 5 Apr 1941.
8          Margaret Quinn, letter to War Department, Michigan Military Area, 14 Oct 1940.
9          “Sent to Detroit News Announcing The Annual Dance of the Detroit Group,” 5 Apr 1941.
10       John G. Slevin, letter to Leora Stroup, 16 Jan 1941.
11       H.H. [Henry H] Arnold, letter to Lauretta M. Schimmoler, 27 Sep 1937.
12       Henry H. Arnold, letter to Lauretta M. Schimmoler, 20 Oct 1937.
13       Julia O. Flikke, memo to Malcolm C. Grow, 11 Oct 1937. Grow’s full title was Chief Flight Surgeon in the Office of the Chief of the Army Air Corps.
14       “Employment of American National Red Cross,” Army Regulation No. 850-75, 30 Jun 1943. (Supersedes Army Regulation 850–75, 30 Aug 1926), 4–5.
15       American Red Cross Nursing Service (Abridged) (Washington, DC: The American Red Cross, May 1942), 6.

 

 

 

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 10 Nov 2018

The Aerial Nurse Corps of America
Part 3

Lauretta Schimmoler, a pilot who in the 1930s founded the flight nurse organization Aerial Nurse Corps of America (ANCOA) independent of the other service organizations such as the United States Army and the American Red Cross (ARC), nevertheless intended that ANCOA would become the air unit of the ARC, which in turn provided nurses for the military.

Although a civilian organization, the ANCOA was organized according to military command structure, with national headquarters in Burbank, California. ANCOA was divided into three wings based at Burbank Union Air Terminal, Newark, New Jersey Airport, and Cleveland, Ohio Municipal Airport that were subdivided into nine divisions throughout the United States in Burbank, San Antonio, Omaha, Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta, Baltimore, Newark, and Boston. Each division corresponded to corps area boundaries found in the United States Army. The divisions were further subdivided into companies. The military analogy went even further. Members of ANCOA were assigned rank commensurate with their position. The national commander held the rank of colonel, a lieutenant colonel commanded a wing, a major commanded a division, and a captain commanded a company.

ANCOA National Commander Lauretta Schimmoler
[US Army Medical Dept Museum]

Most of the nurses held the rank of first or second lieutenant, or cadet, which was the lowest grade for a registered nurse. 1 As organizational literature stressed, however, “These titles are used only within the organization, set up for greater discipline for members working together as a women’s organization. They are purely honorary.” 2 Should a member put too much stock in her quasi-military status, she need only remember the organization’s Ten Commandments to restore her sense of perspective. An ANCOA nurse, she learned,

  1. is honorable
  2. is loyal, congenial, cooperative
  3. is prompt, thorough, dependable, reliable
  4. is always dignified, never loud or boisterous
  5. is true to her religion
  6. always respects her superiors and never fails to keep a promise
  7. never complains about anything
  8. never desecrates her uniform
  9. never reveals confidences
  10. shows conduct, character, and integrity always above reproach. 3

Like their military counterparts, those ANCOA nurses who met the qualifications took an oath of office “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the Aerial Nurse Corps of America against all their enemies whomsoever” and “to bear true faith and allegiance to the same”. 4 The oath-taking took on the fervor of a religious ceremony. In the presence of the American flag and at least two ANCOA members, the recruit took a ten-question pledge to which she responded “I am” or “I do.”

  1. Are you serious and sincere about your enlistment?
  2. Do you promise to study the Regulations and live up to them?
  3. Do you promise to preserve them?
  4. Do you promise to read all orders, and communications and endeavor to comply with them to the best of your ability?
  5. Do you promise to be loyal to your Flag and the members of the Corps?
  6. Do you promise to relinquish all properties belonging to the Aerial Nurse Corps of America, when being discharged or reassigned?
  7. Do you promise to notify your Captain when ill or unable to attend? Giving reason.
  8. Do you promise to obtain a Furlough when being absent for a period of more than 3 meetings?
  9. Do you promise to carry out all instructions and assignments to the best of your ability?
  10. Do you promise to apprize commanding officers regarding characters of individuals being recruited when you know their character will be harmful to your organization?

Upon your HONOR in the presence of these Witnesses you have promised to be faithful and uphold the principles and Regulations of the Aerial Nurse Corps of America.

The recruit then repeated the oath of office, the words of which differed slightly in various ANCOA documents:

“I, [recruit repeats name] do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America and to the Aerial Nurse Corps of America and do hereby acknowledge to have voluntarily accepted enlistment for three years in the Aerial Nurse Corps of America, unless sooner discharged by proper authorities; and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies whomsoever and that I will obey the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations, So Help me God!” 5

An ANCOA nurse was required to be a single female American citizen between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-five with a height between five feet two inches and five feet eight inches inclusive and a weight corresponding to her age and height. She had to pass a physical examination to determine her fitness for air duty. The applicant was also required to be a member of her state nurses’ association and a member of the First Reserve of the American Red Cross, which provided the pool of applicants from which military nurses were drawn.

Nurses joining ANCOA served on “active duty” during which time they agreed to perform nursing duties in any airworthy aircraft. They also were required to attend two-hour classes and lectures one night each week divided into medical subjects the first year, aeronautical subjects the second year, and theoretical subjects the third year. Training Bulletin Number 2 and other ANCOA literature provided a course schedule covering 150 weeks of work that in addition to the above general subjects also covered chemical warfare, first aid, drill, and the ANCOA Regulations Manual in year one; ambulance technique and regulations and radio-telephone communications in year two; and surveys of airports and aircraft, establishment of aviation medical centers, and company management in year three. All members had to pass an examination of the ANCOA Regulations Manual with a score of at least 80 within the first six months of membership and had to hold a third-grade radio-telephone operator’s license. 6 After six months, having made the necessary passing score on the Regulations Manual examination, the new nurses were placed on the active duty roster and were promoted from cadet to second lieutenant. With the promotion in rank, these nurses were authorized to wear the blue-grey ANCOA uniform with its overseas cap and military-like insignia. 7 In 1938 Joseph Panitz and Company of Los Angeles manufactured and furnished the ANCOA uniforms; Hollywood Uniform Company of Los Angeles provided the official uniform for Aerial Nurse Corps and Aviation Emergency Corps members around 1941. 8

Unlike military nursing, work as an ANCOA nurse was not full time but rather was limited to part-time volunteer participation in evening classes and weekend activities that included providing first aid for national air races and smaller air events. Occasionally ANCOA nurses would accompany a patient on a flight to provide nursing care en route. Members held other jobs as nurses and paid for the privilege of being part of ANCOA with a five-dollar enrollment fee and monthly dues of fifty cents. 9

Schimmoler’s optimistic goal of ten thousand ANCOA nurses trained and ready, reported in a 1941 issue of Trained Nurse and Hospital Review, was unrealistic given the projected need of ten thousand nurses for the Army Nurse Corps alone as the United States headed into war. 10 Equally unrealistic was Schimmoler’s undated prediction that within ten years there would be an adequate supply of ANCOA nurses for aviation duty. 11 Nor were companies of aerial nurses established in every large city in the United States as Shimmoler had hoped. 12 Yet in its early days ANCOA showed a modest growth as companies were formed – twelve of them by 1940 – and others planned in several large cities: Bakersfield, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, California; Denver, Colorado; Fort Lauderdale and Sarasota, Florida; Chicago and Decatur, Illinois; Louisville, Kentucky; Detroit, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; New York City; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Memphis, Tennessee; El Paso, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 13 By April 1941 ANCOA had chapters in twenty-two cities in eleven states. 14 Writing to medical historian Hubert A Coleman in 1945, Schimmoler cited the formation of fourteen companies over a four-year period and a roster “to date” numbering between six and seven hundred ANCOA members, approximately seventy-five of them non-nurses. 15

Seemingly unlimited in ways to expand ANCOA activities, Schimmoler reached out in 1940 to women who for whatever reason could not qualify for ANCOA membership in its current departments. National headquarters daily received “many letters from young and old alike requesting information and an opportunity to be of service to the Aerial Nurse Corps and aviation”. 16 The answer, Schimmoler decided, was to create a Junior Section and a Second Reserve. An Auxiliary also was planned that would establish Hangar Departments in each city where an ANCOA company existed. As stated in a press release,

The purpose of the Hangar Departments is to provide the Aerial Nurse Corps of America with the necessary equipment and supplies to be used in airplanes and on airports in any emergency. Research in this field indicates that certain ground supplies cannot be used to good advantage in airplanes because of dimensions and weights. 17

In her eagerness not to turn away applicants, however, Schimmoler may have weakened her original intent to “develop a technically trained Corps of RESERVE NURSES … qualified for all forms of air duty”, particularly for military purposes. 18

To be continued

Notes

1          Aerial Nurse Corps, Regulations Manual (Los Angeles, Burbank, CA: Schimmoler, 1940), 4–5, 45, 47–48.
2          Leora B. Stroup, “What is the Aerial Nurse Corps of America?” n.d., 2.
3          “Ten Commandments of an Aerial Nurse,” Aerial Nurse Corps of America Memorandum, 20 Jun 1938.
4          “Aerial Nurse Corps,” brochure, n.d., 4.
5          “Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America and the Aerial Nurse Corps,” Aerial Nurse Corps of America, n.d.; “Oath,” Aerial Nurse Corps of America, n.d.
6          Stroup, “What is the Aerial Nurse Corps of America?” 2; Leora B. Stroup, “A New Service in an Old Cause,” Trained Nurse and Hospital Review 105 (Sep 1940): 188; Ruth G. Mitchell, “Schedule of Courses and hours for 3 years,” Aerial Nurse Corps of America Bulletin No. 2, n.d.
7          Aerial Nurse Corps, Regulations Manual, 2-4; Stroup, “New Service,” 187–88.
8          “Aerial Nurse Corps of America Regulation Uniform,” n.d.; Lauretta Schimmoler, “Memorandum: Ordering Regulation Uniforms,” Aerial Nurse Corps of America, 28 Jul 1938; “Official Uniform for Aerial Nurse Corps and Aviation Emergency Corps Members,” n.d.
9         “Aerial Nurse Corps,” brochure, n.d., 4.
10       “Aerial Nurse Corps,” Trained Nurse and Hospital Review 107 (Oct 1941): 281; “Call To Service,” Trained Nurse and Hospital Review 107 (Oct 1941): 281; “American Nurses – We Are at War!” American Journal of Nursing 42 (Apr 1942): 354; “Urgent Need for Nurses,” American Journal of Nursing 44 (Nov 1944): 1017.
11       “The Meaning of ‘Aerial Nurse Corps,’” Aerial Nurse Corps of America Memorandum, n.d.
12       Stroup, “What is the Aerial Nurse Corps of America?” 2.
13       Stroup, “A New Service,” 184; Stroup, “What is the Aerial Nurse Corps of America?” 3. A new company was also to be formed in Kansas City, but the state was not specified.
14       “Sent to Detroit News Announcing The Annual Dance of the Detroit Group,” 5 Apr 1941.
15       Lauretta M. Schimmoler, letter to H.A. Coleman, 22 Mar 1945.
16       “Interest in Aviation Increases Aerial Nurse Corps Activities,” Aerial Nurse Corps of America, 15 Sep 1940.
17       Ibid.
18       Aerial Nurse Corps, Regulations Manual, 1.

 

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 20 Oct 2018

The Aerial Nurse Corps of America
Part 2

By the 1930s, the use of stewardesses on airlines, an idea launched by Boeing Air Transport, had caught on not only with air passengers but also with America’s nurses who applied by the thousands for the chance to take their nursing into the skies.

Pilot Lauretta Shimmoler, however, had a better idea conceived in reaction to two troubling events she had observed. When at the controls of her new plane en route from Akron to Lorain, Ohio in 1930, she had seen the devastation wrought by a tornado that had swept through that area about a year before, its damage yet to be repaired. What if nurses could have been flown to the scene after the storm to render immediate aid to its victims on the ground and to accompany them by air to medical treatment elsewhere, she wondered. Later when Schimmoler noted the inadequate emergency care provided to a fellow pilot following an accident at an air meet, her idea took more definite form. 1

By 1932 Schimmoler, who now was living in Cleveland where she was vice-president of Vi-Airways and in charge of its Women’s Division, had begun preparations for her civilian flight nurse organization. Here she gathered together a group of nurses interested in her idea and formed the Emergency Flight Corps whose initial task was to research and develop the aerial nurse concept further. After moving to Los Angeles in 1933, where she worked in the first of several aviation-related jobs, Schimmoler continued to pursue her plan for aerial nurses. For the National Air Races held in that city in 1936, Schimmoler provided ten registered nurses to staff two field hospitals under the direction of the Chief Medical Officer for that four-day event. The Emergency Flight Corps, renamed the Aerial Nurse Corps of America (ANCOA), was now operational, having aided 220 persons attending the races. 2 By 1940 ANCOA structure, objectives, routines, and course of study were spelled out in the sixty-three page Regulations Manual and other supporting organizational directives.

Lauretta Schimmoler (back row far left) and original ANCOA members,
National Air Races, Los Angeles, 1936 [USAF Photo]

In ANCOA literature the point is made that Schimmoler “was fully cognizant that no provisions were being made to provide nurses with the essential aeronautical education”. 3 Whether Schimmoler knew about an existing aerial organization recently formed in New York City in 1931 – the American Nurses Aviation Service, Inc. – is uncertain. Her research, detailed in statements and speeches, identified aerial nurses in France, Chile, and England, but not in her own country. With its purposes to foster and promote air-mindedness in its registered nurse and licensed physician members, to give courses and lectures in aeronautics and allied subjects to qualify members as attendants to patients in air ambulances, and to institute chapters throughout the country leading to a national aviation nursing service, the American Nurses Aviation Service, Inc.’s goals were similar in many respects to those Schimmoler developed for her own organization of aerial nurses. 4 The Journal of Aviation Medicine, a publication of the Aerospace Medical Association, endorsed the New York organization and welcomed news of its progress within its issues for 1931, 1932, and 1933, including in its pages the organization’s founding, constitution and by-laws, reports of meetings, and course of lectures. Only one lecture pertained to care of patients in flight. Other lectures covered the history of aviation and aviation medicine; physical requirements of pilots; the nervous system; the Schneider Test for circulatory efficiency; eyes and ears; effects of altitude, wind, cold, speed, and carbon monoxide; fatigue; airsickness; military and civilian aviation; types of injuries; duties of nurses as flight surgeon assistants, at airports, and as airline hostesses; operation of airlines, airplanes, and aircrews; flying rules and regulations; and demonstration of flight physicals. 5

In 1932 the American Nurses Aviation Service, Inc., suffered the tragic loss of the “American Nurse” airplane, its pilot and co-pilot, and the organization’s director-general Dr. Leon Pisculli in a research flight from New York to Rome in honor of the American Nurses Aviation Service, Inc. 6 Because Pisculli was its primary organizer and backer, the organization lapsed into inactivity after his death. Although the organization was reactivated the next year by decision of its council, news of the American Nurses Aviation Service, Inc. had faded from the pages of the Journal of Aviation Medicine by 1934, about the time that Schimmoler’s aerial organization was attracting media attention elsewhere. 7

From the time that she launched the ANCOA, Schimmoler worked steadily to have the organization endorsed and recognized as the flight nurse unit of various service organizations, both civilian and, ultimately, military. Believing that actions speak louder than words, ANCOA members offered their services at air meets, air shows, and other aviation activities, gaining some local and national exposure in the press. When the need and opportunity arose, the nurses accompanied patients on flights as well. Media coverage that followed had more impact than advertising in bringing the work of ANCOA to the attention of the public. National ANCOA officers then referred to these activities in their speeches to nursing and aviation organizations.

In the late 1930s the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Aero Squadron recognized ANCOA as a voluntary auxiliary unit for emergency and disaster work. 8 In 1938 the National Aeronautics Association endorsed ANCOA as its official nursing organization, and in April 1940 Gill Robb Wilson, the National Aeronautics Association president, wrote to Mary Beard, Director, American Red Cross (ARC) Nursing Service, asking that society to “take a constructive interest” in ANCOA, a “valued affiliate of the National Aeronautic Association”. 9 One must wonder whether Wilson’s letter was intended to reconcile differences between Schimmoler and Beard, since the interest the ARC had shown in ANCOA up to this point had been anything but constructive. Schimmoler recalled Beard telling her, “You have a wonderful idea, but you are ten years ahead of us. If you were only a nurse we could find a place for you.” 10

ANCOA’s association with Relief Wings, Inc., “A Civilian Program to Use AIRPLANES for Humanitarian Purposes in War or Peacetime Disasters at Home and Abroad”, first mobilized in 1940 and for which Schimmoler served on the Advisory Committee for Technical Aeronautical Problems, also was strained at best. 11 Relief Wings planned to establish and maintain as one of its four voluntary corps “Flight Nurses who will not be emotionally or physically disturbed by first air travel, and who therefore can give maximum efficiency under pressure of disaster or air ambulance conditions”. 12 But in 1941 Ruth Nichols, Executive Director of Relief Wings and a licensed pilot, wrote to Harriet Fleming, a member of the California State Nurses Association, ”Although I have felt that Miss Schimmoler has evolved a fine detailed piece of training program for aerial nurses, we have not found any basis upon which she was willing to co-operate with Relief Wings.” 13

Correspondence of Nichols to Schimmoler indicates that Nichols thought they had an agreement that Schimmoler was not honoring. In short, Nichols would help ANCOA obtain more members if those members would be available for disaster service under Relief Wings, but Schimmoler apparently was not encouraging this collaboration. At stake was each woman’s control over the limited number of nurses available for civilian aerial work during time of war and her claim to the uniqueness of that work. 14 Whether their differences ever were reconciled is not known, but Nichols’s letter to Fleming in 1942 suggests that Relief Wings did not know the present status of ANCOA; Nichols had heard, however, that it “had died a natural death”. 15

ANCOA had not died, but the ultimate association that Schimmoler sought for her organization – to form a unit of the United States military – was beyond her control. ANCOA had as one of its purposes

to provide technically trained and physically qualified personnel to fulfill the requirements of the Medical Department of the U. S. Army and Navy Nurse Corps, under their supervision, in national emergencies, for nursing duty in air transports, at airports and air bases of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps in time of national and civic emergencies. 16

Schimmoler, who founded her flight nurse organization independent of the other service organizations such as the United States Army and the ARC, nevertheless intended that ANCOA would become the air unit of the ARC, which in turn provided nurses for the military. Undaunted in the face of the skepticism she encountered when promoting her new organization to nursing officials, Schimmoler relentlessly pursued her goals. The formative years of flight nursing prior to the development of the program in the United States Army Air Forces were marked by the rivalry of these two organizations – ANCOA and ARC – that were in contention to provide the nurses for a flight nurse program in the United States military. This rivalry highlights an issue that has plagued nursing from its beginning: that nurses should control their own profession.

To be continued

Notes

1          Aerial Nurse Corps of America, Regulations Manual (Los Angeles, Burbank, CA: Schimmoler, 1940), n.p.; Leora B. Stroup, “A New Service in an Old Cause,” Trained Nurse and Hospital Review 105 (Sep 1940): 186.
2          Aerial Nurse Corps, Regulations Manual, n.p.; Douglas J. Bintliff, “Aerial Nurse Corps,” Air Trails, Nov 1940, 54; Emerson, “Most Recent Emergency Unit,” 10; Stroup, “New Service,” 186–87.
3          “The Aerial Nurse Corps of America” brochure, n.d.
4          “The American Nurses Aviation Service, Inc.,” Journal of Aviation Medicine 2 (1931): 262–63.
5          Ibid.; “The Nurse in Aviation,” Journal of Aviation Medicine 3 (1932): 5; “The Nurse in Aviation,” Journal of Aviation Medicine 3 (1932): 116–18.
6          “The American Nurses Aviation Service Inc.,” Journal of Aviation Medicine 3(3) (Sep 1932): 176.
7          “American Nurses Aviation Service, Inc.,” Journal of Aviation Medicine 4 (Mar 1933): 19.
8          Emerson, “Most Recent Emergency Unit,” 10; Leora B. Stroup, “What is the Aerial Nurse Corps of America?” n.d., 2; James Farrer, “Flying Nurses Do Without Glamor,” [Dayton] Sunday Mirror, 20 Apr 1941; “Nurses Mobilize for Duties in New Home Defense Service,” Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar 1941.
9         Gill Robb Wilson, letter to Mary Beard, 16 Apr 1940.
10       Lauretta M. Schimmoler, letter to H.A. Coleman, 22 Mar 1945; Lauretta M. Schimmoler, “The Story of How It All Began: “And They Said It Wouldn’t Be Done,” unpublished manuscript, n.d., 7.
11       “Relief Wings,” brochure, n.d.
12       “Relief Wings, Inc.,” Journal of Aviation Medicine 12 (Sep 1941): 260.
13       Ruth Nichols, letter to Harriet Fleming, 16 Feb 1942.
14       Ruth Nichols, letter to Lauretta Schimmoler, 5 Dec 1941.
15       Nichols, letter to Fleming, 16 Feb 1942.
16       Aerial Nurse Corps, Regulations Manual, 1.

 

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 1 Oct 2018

The Aerial Nurse Corps of America
Part 1

As early as 1930, before flight nursing in the United States military was a reality, Lauretta M. Schimmoler, a pilot, had foreseen a need for flight nurses. Born in Fort Jennings, Ohio in 1900, Schimmoler, who graduated with honors from the Bliss Business College of Columbus, tried her hand at various business pursuits – working as a court stenographer, studying law, raising chickens – before settling on the business of aviation. By the age of thirty she had learned to fly, obtained her pilot’s license, and established and managed the Port Bucyrus Municipal Airport in Ohio. As the first female pilot in Crawford County, Ohio, Schimmoler was a “favorite daughter” of the local press. “From Chickens to Flying: Lauretta Schimmoler Quit Poultry Raising to Pilot Planes” began one account typical in its admiration for her achievements. After chronicling Schimmoler’s career, the reporter concluded:

It is not hard to understand why Miss Schimmoler has risen so rapidly in the flying world. Her extraordinary capacity for activity, her quick movement, her orderly mind and her keen sense of values are outstanding. She never is too busy to help a student flyer. She isn’t afraid to climb into overalls and to find out what causes an unnatural knock in an engine. She keeps her head when at the controls and so far has not had a crack-up.

Lauretta Schimmoler looks responsibility and hard work straight in the eye. 1

Lauretta M. Schimmoler, circa 1932 [Bucyrus, OH Historical Society]

In 1932 in recognition of her aviation activities, Schimmoler was inducted into the Ninety-Nines, the national organization of licensed women pilots. 2 But she had even loftier ambitions. While continuing to participate in air meets and aerial exhibitions as part of this prestigious group of flyers, Schimmoler was contemplating the use of aircraft for a more compassionate purpose that would involve flying nurses.

The idea of nurses in airplanes was not entirely new. Nurses had become airborne in 1930 when a group of women selected and organized by Ellen Church, a nurse from Iowa who was working at a San Francisco hospital, formed the initial cadre of registered nurse stewardesses for Boeing Air Transport, the predecessor to United Airlines. Church had never been on a commercial plane when she stopped by the Boeing Air Transport office on Washington’s Birthday in February 1930 on her day off, ostensibly to book a flight home to Iowa. Because it was a holiday and business was slow, Mr. Stephen Stimson, the Passenger Traffic Manager for the Oakland, California to Cheyenne, Wyoming route, chatted with Church about the new passenger planes capable of transporting eighteen passengers. Church, who had learned to fly and had thirteen solo hours to her credit, wanted to combine her love of flying and her love of nursing in some way to earn a living. Like Schimmoler, Church envisioned a need for air ambulances in outlying districts far removed from hospitals. In her conversation Church let it slip that she had learned to fly, and the eager Church and the enthusiastic Stimson began to talk about possibilities. 3 As Church recalled in 1960:

He told me about the boys they had hired and that they had them spotted on different jobs and about the kind of use they were going to have for them. I said, “Why couldn’t a girl with nursing do that?” It was the psychology of a woman earning her living up in the air every day. … “[W]hat man could say he was afraid to fly if a woman was doing that?” He [Stimson] got real enthusiastic about that and then went on to other things. He said he knew the manager of the airport in Oakland and then said, “I will give you a letter of introduction or a card or something. You go and talk with him. Maybe something will work out there. Let’s pursue it further. You will hear from me.” 4

Two or three weeks later Stimson called to arrange an interview with Church and one of the company vice presidents “about this stewardess proposition if you are still interested”. The vice president was “totally unenthusiastic about the whole thing”, but Stimson, who was sold on the idea, got approval from Mr. Boeing for a three-month trial with home base at Cheyenne. Church, who had once wanted to be a copilot, had found her true calling in the airplane’s cabin, not in its cockpit. 5 The vice president who had opposed the idea of female stewardesses resigned rather than be connected with the new program. 6

Finding the first seven nurses who met the requirements for stewardess duty was not easy for Church because of height and weight requirements, although many women were interested. She eventually found three women in San Francisco and four in Chicago. Concerning their training as stewardesses, Church recalled:

We didn’t have any kind of training. There were discussions as to what was to be served and about the forms to be filled out. We had nothing to go on. We had to formulate our plans as we went along. Certainly it was the trial and error method. But as soon as we learned what we were doing, what the service involved, what there was need for – then we began training the girls by sending them out with older girls and giving some ground training beforehand. In the beginning everybody was on his own and we did the best we could. 7

Tasked with providing safety and comfort for the traveling public, these eight women – Margaret Arnott, Jessie Carter, Ellis Crawford, Harriet Fry, Alva Johnson, Inez Keller, and Cornelia Peterson, with Church as Chief Stewardess – did much to boost the image and reputation of the nascent commercial airline industry as they attended to the needs of the occasionally apprehensive but for the most part healthy passengers. 8 The earliest stewardesses were under age twenty-five, stood under five feet four inches tall, and weighed under 115 pounds. The women wore a tailored suit in soft green and grey; a grey linen smock for wear inside the plane was discarded after a few months. A cape and hat for outdoor wear completed the outfit.

In the air the stewardesses served their passengers a cold meal of fried chicken, ham, potato chips, pickles, fruit cup, fresh fruit, and cookies, with hot coffee or hot tea. Additional duties included supplying reading material, sending telegrams and dispatching letters, and furnishing pillows and blankets. 9 And as Church pointed out, “We spent much more time with passengers than they do today, pointing out things of interest as we flew over. We had maps. … But on the whole we spent more time talking and listening and trying to do little things for them.” 10

Church had been a stewardess for only eighteen months when she was grounded following an automobile accident. She returned to school to earn her nursing degree and resumed her nursing career on the ground. Meanwhile, the stewardess program “took off” with most of the airlines following Boeing’s lead. The idea of stewardesses had caught on not only with air passengers but also with America’s nurses who applied by the thousands for the chance to take their nursing into the skies.

Schimmoler, however, had a better idea.

To be continued

Notes

1     Virginia Saunders, “From Chickens to Flying,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, 16 Dec 1932.
2     F.W. Emerson, “The Most Recent Emergency Unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.” The Guardians of Peace and Property, n.d., 10; M. Aileen Crain, “Lauretta M. Schimmoler,” ANCOA Flashes, Apr 1940, 6.
3     Ellen Church, interview with Kenneth Leish, May 1960. [AFHRA K146.34–27]
4     Ibid.
5     Ellen Church, “Introduction” in Mary F. Murray, Skygirl (New York: Duell, Slowan, Pearce, 1951), 13; “The First Flying Nurse,” Public Health Nurse 22 (Sep 1930): 471.
6     Church, interview with Leish.
7     Ibid.
8     Georgia P. Nielsen, From Sky Girl to Flight Attendant: Women and the Making of a Union (Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, 1982), 10.
9     Ibid., 7–12; “The First Flying Nurse,” 471; Ellen E. Church, “Nursing Up in the Air,” Public Health Nurse 23 (Feb 1931): 74.
10   Church, interview with Leish.

Music in The Girl’s Own Paper – 2 Sep 2018

Nursing and Music in The Girl’s Own Paper
Part 2 Asylum Nursing

The Girl’s Own Paper (TGOP), a popular weekly magazine published in London by the Religious Tract Society beginning in 1880, included information and advice about employment opportunities for young women in its issues. If replies in the Answers to Correspondents columns in the magazine offer a representative sampling of readers’ desired employments, other employments – including music – paled in comparison with readers’ visions of becoming professional nurses.

Nursing, both amateur and professional, continued to capture the attention of TGOP and its correspondents in the first decade of the twentieth century. In a twelve-part series, C.F. Picton-Gadsden’s ‘The Hospital in the Home’ [27: beginning 101] * covered basic nursing essentials that the author of ‘The Trials of an Amateur Nurse’ may have found helpful. [29: 751–52] ‘Nursing as a Profession for Girls’ [28: 4–5] and ‘The Experiences of a Private Nurse’ [28: 140–41] discussed the professional side of nursing.

Correspondents were particularly interested in asylum nursing. Why asylum nursing? Strides had been made in the last half of the nineteenth century to replace containment and coercion of patients in asylums with care and cure instead. But overcrowding of these institutions as well as little tangible evidence that the therapeutic modalities were working led to stagnation in the treatment of Britain’s insane. 1 Mrs Chapman, a former Matron of Whittingham, Leavesden and Claybury Asylums in England, wrote of the ominous increase of insanity in Britain during the last decades of the nineteenth century; in 1900 the Lunacy Commissioners, a group established by the Lunacy Act of 1845 to oversee asylums and the welfare of the mentally ill, reported that one in every three hundred of Britain’s population was a ‘registered lunatic’. 2 In 1906 the Commissioners in Lunacy reported 121,979 registered lunatics in England and Wales cared for by about 20,000 nurses and attendants, 4006 of them women. 3 Male staff members were called ‘attendants’ and female staff, ‘nurses’. 4

A reform was underway to recognize mental illness as a disease and to make care for those patients more like that given in general hospitals rather than the less than commendable care associated with Britain’s treatment of the insane. Just as the introduction of trained nurses into general hospitals in the previous century had brought a more humane approach to the care of medical patients, likewise the introduction of trained nurses into asylums could, it was hoped, do the same for the care of mental patients.

Chapman pointed to England’s recognition in the last few years of how valuable systematic training was in any profession. Ratepayers, who supported asylums, were becoming slowly aware that intellectual efficiency of all those engaged in that work would promote economic efficiency. 5 But intelligence must be coupled with experience, and Britain’s hospital-trained nurses lacked the understanding and skills needed to meet the needs of patients suffering from mental illness. 6 The Medico-Psychological Association – the professional organization of asylum medical superintendents – offered a comprehensive training program for asylum nurses beginning in 1899 to assure that they could meet their patients’ physical as well as psychological needs. 7

The ‘general desire to raise the status and qualifications of the asylum nurse’ would be advanced by careful selection of candidates, Chapman wrote, and, on the whole, women offered a better pool than men from which to select asylum nurses, in part because ‘A good moral character is the foundation upon which the successful training of the nurse rests.’ 8

When in 1901 ANXIOUS wrote TGOP asking ‘Is there any demand for asylum nurses? How could I find out where they are wanted?’, the correspondent’s question and the magazine’s reply were printed in a Question and Answer column. The demand for asylum nurses was considerable, ANXIOUS was told, but training in a good asylum that offered certification by the Medico-Psychological Association was important. Annual salary as an asylum nurse would amount only to £20 to £25, but the field offered good employment opportunities. [22: 715] In a follow-on Questions and Answers column, TGOP reassured A LOVER OF USEFUL WORK, who asked if asylum nursing, like so many other occupations, was overstocked, that vacancies did exist in that line of work. [23: 53]

Perhaps to set the record straight on training and work opportunities in asylum nursing, in 1903 Anna contributed ‘An Occupation for Girls That Is Remunerative, Interesting, and Not Over-Crowded’. Healthy women aged 18 to 30 and at least five foot three inches tall with a fair education, an aptitude for nursing, and ‘some knowledge of music and singing’, should consider working in an asylum, she said. The author appealed especially to those Christian women with a missionary spirit to ‘Take up this work, my sisters!’ to prevent unnecessary suffering. ‘When discouraged, think of Him Who cured the sick in mind as well as the sick in body, and pray that His coming be not long delayed.’ [25: 243]

Anna explained the curious musical prerequisites in ‘The Duties of an Asylum Nurse’ that appeared later in the same volume. The asylum chaplains who directed the choirs for worship services were glad to have nurses with good voices as choir members. In addition, each ward had a piano, and the patients appreciated musical nurses. But the accomplishment was not a necessity, Anna explained – perhaps to the relief of nonmusical readers – since some patients were professional musicians who sang and played exceptionally well. [25: 478]

Judging by replies in the Answers to Correspondents column, readers took Anna’s suggestion to heart. MABEL, [23: 352] A READER OF THE “GO.P.”, [24: 224], M.C. [25: 495] and ROTHA [25: 704] all asked about asylum nursing. A.K.’s inquiry about the ‘best way of getting into a private mental asylum, and at what age, with no experience’ left the editor confused. Did the correspondent mean as a patient, as a nurse, as a maid or as a pupil? His advice to apply to the Medico-Psychological Association and to consult her family physician covered all possibilities. [23: 80] Far more correspondents remained interested in general nursing, particularly in hospitals for adults and for children; a few inquired about maternity or monthly nursing, district nursing and army or navy nursing.

Because only replies, not correspondents’ questions, were printed in the Answers to Correspondence columns, we cannot know how many of these aspiring nurses achieved their dream, or whether, once in the profession, it was a dream fulfilled.

* The first number in brackets is the volume number, followed by page number(s).

Notes

  1. Neil Brimblecombe, ‘Asylum Nursing as a Career in the United Kingdom, 1890–1910, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 55 (September 2006): 770–71.
  2. Mrs Chapman, ‘Care of the Insane: I. Asylum Nursing’, American Journal of Nursing, 2 / 3 (1901): 164.
  3. Sarah A. Tooley, The History of Nursing in the British Empire (London: Bousfield, 1906), 260.
  4. Neil Brimblecombe, ‘Asylum Nursing in the UK at the End of the Victorian Era: Hill End Asylum’, Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 12 (February 2005): 61.
  5. Chapman, 164.
  6. Ibid., 164–65.
  7. Briddlecombe, ‘Asylum Nursing in the UK’, 62; Chapman, 166–67.
  8. Chapman, 169.

Music in The Girl’s Own Paper – 12 Aug 2018

Nursing and Music in The Girl’s Own Paper
Part 1 Professional Nursing

The Girl’s Own Paper (TGOP), a popular weekly magazine published in London by the Religious Tract Society beginning in 1880, included information and advice about employment opportunities for young women in its issues. If replies in the Answers to Correspondents columns in the magazine offer a representative sampling of readers’ desired employments, other employments – including music – paled in comparison with readers’ visions of becoming professional nurses.

Professional nursing had entered the public’s consciousness when in 1854 Florence Nightingale took 38 female volunteer nurses from England to Turkey to provide care to ill and injured soldiers in the Crimean War. Highly publicised in the British press for her successful venture, Nightingale next opened a school of nursing at Saint Thomas Hospital in London in 1860. Nursing did not attract many recruits, however until the 1890s, but its popularity already had been reflected in the pages of TGOP. 1

In Volume 9 of TGOP, the editor proposed to award three gold medals yearly to girls or women who distinguished themselves in actions or in words. Subscribers to the magazine would vote for winners in the categories of good deeds, fine arts and literature, and science or education. Not surprisingly, he took it for granted that his readers would want to award the first medal to Her Majesty the Queen. [9: 8, 275] * Following a reminder to readers, the magazine was inundated with suggestions that Laura Finnis, Head Nurse at Saint William’s Hospital, Rochester, Kent, should receive the next medal. After TGOP staff had investigated the incident that prompted the letters, Finn was awarded the Girl’s Own Order of Merit for having risked her own life in hope of saving that of a five-year-old child dying from diphtheria. [9: 558, 631, 689–90]

‘Nursing has become one of the fashionable crazes of the day,’ wrote Amy Woods in 1893, ‘and almost every girl seems to imagine she is a born nurse. As a refuge for discontented and dissatisfied women, the hospitals and training institutions seem to have taken the place of the sisterhoods, possibly because no vows are enforced on those who enter them, and masculine society is not prohibited.’ [14: 500] She continued:

Because a nineteenth century maiden can bind up a cut finger and does not faint at the sight of a severed artery, she imagines she is cut out for a hospital nurse, and fondly pictures herself as a sort of ministering angel, who, wearing a most becoming uniform, smoothes the pillows and watches by the bedside of interesting patients, or performs miracles of Herculean strength in lifting and supporting burly costermongers and colliers, and is the wonder and admiration of doctors, nurses, and patients. Fortunately, if she carries out her intentions and enters a hospital, she is speedily awakened to a sense of her folly and incapacity by the hard work she has to do, and the scant consideration with which her inexperience is treated, and in many cases she gladly resigns her post and returns to the home she has learned to appreciate. [14: 500]

As Woods hinted, the reality of nursing was in stark contrast to its idealized image. In its first decades, nursing was organized along military lines in a battle on two fronts – one to create a respectable professional occupation for women of impeccable moral standards and one to wage war against illness and filth. Nightingale, the ‘supreme commander’, turned over the daily operations to her ‘generals’ – the matrons [senior-ranking nurses] of the large hospitals – who in turn oversaw the work of the ward nursing sisters. All gentlewomen from the upper classes, they were the officers in charge of the troops – the probationers and the nurses from the lower middle class. The ‘battle plan’ emphasized cleanliness and discipline as the weapons with which to carve out a distinct space for women that focused on care of patients and their environment within the male-dominated medical world. 2

From its very beginning, nurses met with resistance from both men and women as they worked to gain a foothold and justify their existence in the hospital. Ironically, their sisters who sought entrance into the medical profession swayed opinion in favour of female nurses as the lesser of two evils. To Mater, who wrote to the editor of The Lancet medical journal in 1870, the thought of lady doctors was ‘repugnant’, but a lady nurse in sickroom or hospital ‘is seen at her holiest and best work’. 3 Nursing, not the masculine domain of doctoring, was the ‘legitimate province’ of women, an anonymous contributor to the same journal wrote in 1879. The policy of ‘lady doctors’ was a ‘misdirected enterprise’ and a ‘monstrous mistake’ against which all womanly women should be warned. 4

A minimum age of 23 for probationers assured that nursing candidates would have maturity and some education. A literacy test, lengthy application, recommendations regarding maturity and character from two or three ladies and a minister, and an interview with the matron weeded out unsuitable young women. 5 Successful applicants entered a two-tier system of training: regular probationers, mostly from the lower middle class, were paid a stipend with uniforms and board for a three-year course of training, while lady probationers from the upper classes paid for the privilege of a year of training. Despite their shorter course, these latter probationers were placed on the fast track to become the ward sisters and matrons. With gentlewomen assuming command, the profession would be recognized as respectable, thus attracting applicants from the sheltered upper-middle and upper classes. 6

As the ranks filled with gentlewomen, nursing shifted from the military metaphor to a maternal one. 7 The image captured the hearts of the Victorian public who ‘adored womanly self-sacrifice’ and imagined nurses as their surrogates. As Martha Vicinus explains, ‘In an age that was widely condemned for its materialistic and self-seeking character, women – and especially nurses – carried the burden of morality for others. Nurses were as close to saints as a Protestant country could have.’ 8 But nursing was not for the faint-hearted or physically frail. All probationers were plunged into a grueling fifteen-hour hospital day ordered by a regimen ‘clearly intended to weed out all but the most determined’. 9

Despite the potential drawbacks to the work, the most determined TGOP readers, many of whom no doubt saw themselves as self-sacrificing saints, deluged the editor with their questions about nursing. Replies to such questions could be found on a regular basis in the Answers to Correspondents column beginning in the magazine’s first volume when ANNIE was given information about lady probationers, Saint Thomas Hospital and Westminster Training School for nurses. [1: 192] Most correspondents were told that they were too young to enter training as probationers. The editor Charles Peters soon tired of repeating himself. ‘We give answers to such questions as yours nearly every week,’ he told NETTA in 1886 [7: 703] Three years later, an exasperated Peters told NURSEY, ‘We have given every information to our girls on the subject of nurses, but multitudes never read our answers under the above [Employment] heading.’ [11: 79] By the end of the magazine’s first decade, Peters told MAUDE P. [11: 256], MARY HOPE, CLYTIE, CARDEW and others that the nursing profession and training hospitals were ‘now much over-stocked’. [11: 688] With a waiting list of applicants desiring such work, it was ‘almost useless our recommending a hospital now’. [11: 256]

As the letters poured in to TGOP requesting information about nursing, so did the number of applicants for nurses training. ‘Some of the great hospitals have as many as 2,000 applications in the year,’ Peters told MAY and M.E.H. in 1897; [18: 239] he noted 1,000 applications refused yearly at Westminster Hospital alone in 1893. [14: 257] Rather than repeat the details in replies to letters arriving on almost a weekly basis, Peters began referring readers to the book How to Become a Nurse by nursing and child-care reformer Honnor Morten. He was, Peters told TOYDONIA in 1894, ‘a little less than “amused” at the never-ending questions on the subject of “Training as Nurses”, to which we as often give replies, and we mentally exclaim, as you do, “if they would only take the trouble to read” what we have said – “but perhaps they won’t”’. [16: 480]

TGOP readers were not to be deterred from their cherished goal. The letters from correspondents interested in nursing increased during the magazine’s second decade. Some hopefuls were told to work on their spelling first. NELL GLEN had made twelve mistakes in only a few lines written to the editor in 1886; [7: 736] ONE IN EARNEST, MARY F., ANXIOUS TO SERVE ARIGHT and J.T. were given the same advice in 1892. [13: 400, 784] A worried MIGNON was told she ‘need not fear that she will be made to open her mouth and show her teeth in offering herself as a hospital nurse. Not being exactly treated and examined by horse-dealers, her few false teeth will preserve their strict incognito.‘ [13: 176]

In a more serious vein, two correspondents were advised to do some soul-searching before they pursued hospital nursing as a vocation, for their motives were questionable. Twenty-eight-year-old ROSE BUD, who longed ‘for something more exciting than cooking’ was told: ‘Such a vocation [as nursing] should be adopted with a willingness to deny yourself in all and every way for the love of God and man – not for the self-gratification to be found in such painfully exciting sights.’ [13: 287] EMBRYO, who thought hospital nursing would be more fun and exciting than nursing her delicate mother at home, was upbraided for being ‘almost too selfish for us to believe it is meant in earnest. We have unfortunately, however, met your counterpart in real life.’ Duty bound Embryo to her mother’s side, as did the Fifth Commandment, the editor admonished the correspondent. [18: 559] Embryo’s letter brought to Peters’s mind the 1889 Punch cartoon ‘Charity That Beginneth Not Where It Should’ that pictures a young woman saying: ‘Well, you see, it’s so dull at home, Uncle. I’ve no Brothers or Sisters – and Papa’s paralysed – and Mamma’s going blind – so I want to be a Hospital Nurse.’ 10

Much had appeared in TGOP about nursing and its training, beginning in the first volume, and, as the editor told UNCONTROLLABLE D. in 1890, readers would be wise to ‘read up the subject’ in the magazine. [12: 416] The next year, Sophia Caulfeild, who included professional nursing among the ‘New Employments for Girls’ [13: 362] considered it ‘trite’ to say much, since the subject had been exhaustively discussed – much of it by Caulfeild herself. [13: 362] Other contributors about nursing included nurses and physicians in articles that focused on professional nurses in the hospital as well as amateur nursing in the home.

Nursing was also the subject of fiction and a competition in TGOP. Fiction presented readers with two themes – the work of nursing and the motives behind it. ‘In Warwick Ward: A Story of Routine’ [14: beginning 232], ‘In Monmouth Ward: A Story of Night-Duty’ [18: beginning 89] and ‘”Sister Warwick”: A Story of Influence’ [20: beginning 153], all by H. Mary Wilson, and ‘The Wards of St. Margaret’s’ by Sister Joan [15: beginning 321] describe hospital nurses at work and off duty. Another theme focuses on why young women choose nursing. In ‘Marsh Marigolds’ by Ada Trotter [16: beginning 1] Miriam’s selfish reasons for becoming a nurse contrast sharply with the selflessness of Ruth who takes over her father’s farming duties when his eyesight fails him, and Ritchie, her younger sister who takes over her father’s organist duties. ‘I see with real pain that you are worshipping a wrong ideal of duty,’ Ruth tells Miriam in confidence during a visit. As a nursing student, Miriam thought only of the many patients whom her services would benefit rather than of her invalid aunt at home who needed her. [16: 327] The episode reinforces the Religious Tract Society’s belief that young women should look for their duty close to home. Writing of the current ‘crazes’ of women in 1891 to be masculine in appearance, poets and nurses or missionaries, Caulfeild’s advice to aspiring missionaries had relevance to aspiring nurses as well: ‘Be faithful with your conscience, and beware of “running where you are not sent,” and seeking new work, and new temptations and difficulties, in the place of God-given duties that you may propose to leave behind.’ [12: 245]

Mary Wilson offered a variant of that theme in ‘Contrasts’, a short drama with hospital nurse Sister Christian, her married sister Mrs Haley, a young friend Joan Layland and a servant maid as characters. Christian, who was on summer holiday, was chatting with her sister on a Surrey lawn when Layland, who had recently taken up the ‘fad’ of hospital nursing, came to visit. Layland, asks Christian what hospital nursing is like and gets a detailed description of all the trials and tribulations as well as the joys and satisfactions of the work. Christian believes that although she has been described as flighty, has fainted a the sight of blood and is prone to bad headaches, Layland has the makings of a nurse, since she was not needed at home and was amenable to overcoming these defects in the two years before she could enter hospital training. ‘Joan a hospital nurse! That would be a contrast indeed!’ Mrs Haley concludes. [15XS: 51]

A nurse topped the list in one of the magazine’s competitions in 1896. Agnes Eugenie Smith of the Nursing Institute in Sunderland described her work in an essay that won first prize in a TGOP Competition for Professional Girls; two other nurses in Wakefield and Guildford received honourable mention. [18: 57, 347, 412]

‘It is no play – far from it! downright hard and earnest work,’ Smith wrote.

There are those (a shame that it is so!) who dabble in the work, but these never stay long at it, and perhaps best so for all parties concerned, so we will pass quickly over them, and if you want to be a nurse, do make up your minds to give up the worship of such gods as “Pleasure” and “Self” and let your high ideal henceforth be – “I was sick and ye visited Me.” [18: 412]

She described the routine of her twelve-hour days during her hospital training and the importance of spending her two-hour breaks on alternate afternoons, tired though she was, on her bicycle or at the piano or in a chat over tea rather than in bed. On obtaining her nursing certificate, smith became a private duty nurse, a choice made perhaps because of the better pay and longer working life. 11

* The first number in brackets is the volume number, followed by page number(s). XS refers to the extra Summer issue.

Notes

  1. Martha Vicinus, Independent Women: Work and Community for Single Women 1850–1920 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 96.
  2. Ibid., 92
  3. ‘A Lady on Lady Doctors’, Lancet, 95 (7 May 1870): 680.
  4. ‘The “Graphic” on Lady-Doctors’, Lancet, 113 (8 March 1879): 350.
  5. Vicinus, 103–104.
  6. Vicinus, 97.
  7. Ibid., 87–88, 101.
  8. Ibid., 112.
  9. Ibid., 91.
  10. ‘Charity That Beginneth Not Where It Should’, Punch, 97 (7 December 1889): 267.
  11. Vicinus, 118.

To be continued

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 14 Jul 2018

Select Bibliography
Army Flight Nursing in World War II
Fiction

When writing Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II, I read extensively about the topic. Much has been written about the success of air evacuation as a means of transportation for sick and wounded soldiers of World War II, and about the flight nurses who provided the patient care. Published either during the war years or retrospectively, most sources are factual accounts of wartime events. Some, however, are only based on fact.

In fiction, Peggy Gaddis’s Shirley Andrews (Flight Nurse Arcadia House 1945) is assigned to air evacuation duty in the Pacific. Elizabeth Lansing’s Nancy Naylor (Nancy Naylor, Flight Nurse Crowell 1944 and Nancy Naylor, Captain of Flight Nurses Crowell 1946) participates in air evacuation missions in the North African and Sicilian Campaigns before being alerted for the invasion of Italy. She then travels with her squadron to England prior to the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Not surprisingly, the best-known fictional nurse of the 1940s also becomes a flight nurse. In Helen Wells’s Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse (Grosset and Dunlap 1945) the eponymous heroine, whom readers first met as a student nurse, then as a senior nurse, joins the Army where she serves as a chief nurse before being selected for the flight nurse course with follow-on assignment in England. As is her usual inclination, Cherry solves a mystery during her tour of duty. Common to all these works of fiction, romance and intrigue are woven into the plots and take precedence over the flight nurse experience, which serves only a minor role in the overall story. These books are for the most part, however, remarkably accurate in their portrayal of the qualifications for and duties of an Army flight nurse assigned to the Army Air Forces and served as an important tool to recruit young women into the military where they themselves could become part of this exciting new field of Army nursing.

More recently, Sarah Sundin’s Wings of the Nightingale Series published by Revell offers historical romance from a Christian perspective in an air evacuation setting during World War II. Each of the three books features fictional Army flight nurses – Lt. Melanie Blake (With Every Letter 2012), Lt. Georgiana Taylor (On Distant Shores 2013), and Lt. Kay Jobson (In Perfect Time 2014) – who fly fictional air evacuation missions in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations with the Army Air Forces in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy and into southern France as part of the factual 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron.

For a selective bibliography of nonfiction, see Blog for 24 Jun 2018.