World War II Army Flight Nurses – 2 Sep 2017

World War II Flight Nurses in Cartoons

The novelty as well as the professionalism of the World War II flight nurse sold the air evacuation program to the general public, helped in great measure by media portrayals of flight nurses in articles often given a catchy title – “These Angels Fly on Man-Made Wings,” “Hell’s Angels,” “Invasion Heroine: The Flying Nurse,” “Angel Footprints.”

In its effort to ameliorate the grimness of war, the media tended to glamorize the work – and the appearance – of flight nurses. In an early cartoon found on the back cover of Yank magazine for 1 September 1942, two male patients in hospital beds watch as a young, pretty, slim nurse, dressed in the conventional white uniform and cap and holding a medication tray, flies over their heads. The caption reads: “Must be one of those new flight nurses that were just transferred here.” 1

  “New flight nurses” cartoon, Yank, 1 September 1942
[Author’s Private Collection]

A cartoon in the July 1944 issue of Air Force magazine, pictures a G.I. combing his hair and straightening his tie while four litter patients watch Flight Nurse Nelson going about her business on an air evacuation flight. The caption reads: “Since the ‘Angels of Mercy’ were put on flying status there has been a marked improvement in the mental attitude of patients being removed from forward combat areas. A sick man’s spirits automatically rise at the touch of a kindly and competent feminine hand. Flight Nurse Nelson is the pin-up as well as patch-up girl of each troop transport she boards these days.” 2

Nurse Nelson cartoon, Airman, July 1944
[Author’s Private Collection]

“I cannot seem to speak of flight nurses without sounding like a blurb for a flock of movie stars,” wrote Maxine Davis in a book about aviation medicine in World War II. “Frankly, I found the Army Air Force flight nurses tops. They were gay, friendly, loved their jobs and performed them efficiently, and they were beautiful. I am convinced the officials of the School of Aviation Medicine measured them, photographed them, and voted on them as for ‘Miss America.’ They were, incidentally, healthy, courageous, and stout of heart.” 3 Helena Ilic was just one of the numerous flight nurses meriting Davis’s accolades. Read more about Helena and her flight nurse colleagues in Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II.

Helena Ilic of 801 MAES in Leyte, Philippines, 1944
[Author’s Private Collection]

The reference to Miss America brought instantly to readers’ minds the image of an attractive female who has risen above her competition as the epitome of all that is good in a young woman. But because beauty did not necessarily equate with courageous action, correspondents tempered their descriptions with behavior indicative of patriotism and fortitude. And if a photograph of the nurse in uniform could be shown, it reinforced the message. Such was the case in “A Heroine Comes Home,” with its subtitle “Boston Army Nurse Typical of The REAL Miss America,” an article about flight nurse Lieutenant Barbara Watts, who served with the 802 Medical Air Evacuation Squadron (MAES) and later with the 807 MAES in North Africa and Europe. Watts was, the correspondent said, “typical of the Miss Americas who served so well in the various theaters of war. Thousands, like Lt. Watts, are turning back to civilian life with records that rival those of the men.” 4

Other publications may not have focused as overtly on the flight nurses’ femininity, but the message was clear in title and in text: the presence of female flight nurses in forward areas and on air evacuation missions had a positive effect on the morale of the troops who might suffer or already had sustained combat wounds or related illnesses. Official military publications also stressed the positive effect that female flight nurses had on their patients’ morale. Because many soldiers were taking their first flight, a young, female nurse calmly going about her duties was a reassuring sight. 5

The public already had read of the glamour associated with nurses working as airline stewardesses. By association, military flight nurses took on that same glamour in the press, but with an important difference – the well-known image of nurses as “angels of mercy” was given a new twist. “These Angels Fly on Man-Made Wings,” read the title of an article in the Sunday supplement to the Louisville Courier-Journal the week after the first flight nurse graduation. The wings, of course, were airplane wings. Wounded soldiers would “be opening their eyes to a sight both pleasant and welcome, but which is just about the last thing they’d expect to see so near no-man’s land” – attractive flight nurses wearing the insignia of second lieutenants. Given the effusive tone of their article, the authors may have thought it necessary to add, “Because being a flight nurse has glamour appeal, entrance into the school is difficult so as to keep out those who would enter purely through the love for adventure.” 6

The closing caveat was apt. Capitalizing on this love of adventure in Women in Aviation, a book written at the end of World War II, Becky Peckham concluded her chapter about flight nurses: “Air Evacuation seemed to be the perfect answer for those girls who ‘didn’t join the Army Nurse Corps to take care of people with measles.’” 7

Under the opening, “They flew into South Pacific combat zones under the noses of Zeros, crouched long, dark hours in foxholes, sweated out blistering beachhead bombardments and came up with the kind of courage that brought smiles to the faces of the sick and wounded,” Collier’s printed a rare article that downplayed femininity and emphasized brawn over beauty in these flight nurse “Amazons.” 8 A photo spread of flight nurses in the Pacific was more balanced in its concise depiction of these women and their work in air evacuation: “They are women with painted fingernails and permanent waves, strictly feminine, but they do a man-sized job.” 9

Flight nurses of the 819 MAES in England who learned about air evacuation flights into France following D Day from their local military newspaper were not pleased with how they – and by implication their work – were portrayed. They bitterly resented what could be seen as a publicity stunt, given that members of the press accompanied the flight nurses of the 816 MAES into France. The flight nurses were photographed picking poppies while the planes sat on the airstrip for more than two hours as 15 casualties were “rounded up” for evacuation back to England. 10 The “photo op” tarnished the flight nurse image, chief nurse June Sanders of the 819 MAES complained. “We knew that our battle for Air Evac had slipped a trifle. – That we had left ourselves open for the ridicule of our ground force sisters – that we would henceforth be referred to in this theater as ‘The Poppy Girls.’ We have been.” 11

A staff sergeant writing for Brief, a publication for army air forces personnel, posed the rhetorical questions:

What kind of a girl is the flight nurse?

Does she think in terms of capillaries, capsules and traction splints? Is she a spoiled woman who, socially, speaks only to Generals, Colonels and God – in the order named?

She could be very spoiled. Quite suddenly, she has been transported into a world of men without women.

The author’s answer painted a nurse more at the middle of the spectrum:

She has been photographed and whistled at like Hedy Lamarr at a hermit’s convention.

In spite of all this she is mostly just an American girl. A pretty good Josie with a fine sense of humor and plenty of guts. She is far less vain than most females … military or otherwise. 12

Although one could argue that the glamorization of flight nursing was overdone in the press, leading to resentment on the part of some of the flight nurses’ coworkers, the femininity inherent in such an image of the flight nurse served a purpose. Military officials would have found it difficult to discount the feminine image of the flight nurse that sold the air evacuation program during World War II. But to emphasize that image downplayed the professionalism of the flight nurse that was the real reason military officials had decided to use female nurses in the program. The answer was to portray these women as both glamorous and gutsy. This was the image that helped the sick and wounded soldiers cope with their battle wounds, injuries, and illnesses and, in turn, helped the flight nurses themselves cope with the professional and personal challenges of air evacuation duty in World War II.


         MSgt Ted Miller “New flight nurses cartoon’, Yank 1 September 1942, back cover.
2          Wm. [William] T. Lent, “AAF Medics,” Air Force 27 (July 1944): 51.
3          Maxine Davis, Through the Stratosphere: The Human Factor in Aviation (New York: Macmillan), 227.
4          Alfred D. Whelton, “A Heroine Comes Home,” Boston Advertiser, 9 September 1945.
5          M. Robert Halbouty, Attilio D. Puppel, and Charles E. Bybee, “Air Evacuation in the Combat Zone,” Air Surgeon’s Bulletin 2 (October 1945): 337.
6          Ed Edstrom and Joe Creason, “These Angels Fly on Man-Made Wings,” Louisville Courier-Journal ROTO–Magazine, 28 February 1943, 6.
7          Betty Peckham, Women in Aviation (New York: Nelson, 1945), 11.
         Marion Porter, “Nurses with Wings,” Colliers 113 (22 April 1944): 22.
9          R.S. [Roger Sheldon], “Far-East Flight Nurses,” and Benn F. Reyes, Paul Wheeler, and Roger Sheldon, “We Fly An ‘Air Evac’ Mission,” The Wing Ding [91st Photo Reconnaissance Wing, Philippines], 4 June 1945, 5–6.
10       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), 209.
11       June Sanders, “Unit History for Month of June 1944 – Section III,” 819 MAES, 1.
12       Joe Whitley, “Flight Nurses Are Women,” Brief 1 (14 November 1944): 10.





World War II Army Flight Nurses – 6 Aug 2017

WW2 Flight Nurse Poetry

For some World War II army flight nurses, the interim between earning their wings at the School of Air Evacuation at Bowman Field, Kentucky, and participating in air evacuation in the “real world” seemed like an eternity. The nurses turned to poetry to vent their frustrations. Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II details the flight nurses’ training and their follow-on assignments.

The 11 verses of the “803rd Lament,” written by Lieutenants Elsie Ott and Georgia Insley “while lying on cot waiting final movement orders at Bowman Field, Kentucky, July, 1943” and sung to the tune “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” depicts the sense of limbo in which the newly minted flight nurses sometimes found themselves but also gives a good overview of the flight nurses’ activities during that time:

I.     The Squadron is ready to go
But orders are coming in slow.
We wait without ranker
To get on a Tanker
Because we are ready to go.

II.     We’ve packed all our clothes in our trunks
And tied up our val packs and bunks;
We’ve all had our hair set,
Our barracks are “To Let”
We’ll help to defeat all those skunks.

III.     Major Kaplan is our C.O.
He’s fun, but means business, we know
He lectures on morale
“Get in there ant pitch, Gal
So we’ll be the first group to go.”

IV.     Audrey Rogers is our new Chief
About her appointment, No Beef
We all like her greatly,
She moves so sedately
She’s fair, square, and gives us no grief.

V.     We almost lost out when we talked
Too much of our movement, and balked
The orders we waited,
They had been abated.
On ten hikes since then we have walked.

VI.    On Bivouac we go with a smile,
We pitch, dig and march mile by mile
Gas alarms for our training
Major promised no raining,
But lost bets galore all the while.

VII.   Four flights in the squadron have we
They’re lettered A, B, C, and D.
Composed of a leader
and Five nurses sweeter
Than sugar in coffee or tea.

VIII.  We swim every P.M. at four
We leave in the truck from our door
We who were afraid
Have now become brave.
We swim, dive and clamour for more.

IX.    803rd has the “Crack Loading Team”
The best men, and all on the beam.
They’ll ne’er be defeated,
They’ll be there when needed.
For jobs that are dirty or clean.

X.     We have many more men than these
The cooks, drivers, clerks, and K.P.’s
They’re administration,
And work with elation
So we’ll soon be sent overseas.

XI.    We’ve named most the parts of our group
And name Supply with a whoop!
Our story is ended
It was well attended
Now orders MUST come for this group. 1

Orders could be slow in coming, but the 803 Medical Air Evacuation Squadron (MAES), like the squadrons that would follow, eventually did depart Bowman Field for the actual work of air evacuation overseas. One could forgive Lt Ott’s impatience, however; as a US Army hospital nurse in Karachi, India in January 1943, she had been selected to accompany five patients from Karachi, India to the United States in the first test of long-distance air evacuation, which earned her the Air Medal. At the conclusion of her historic mission, Ott requested and was granted orders for flight nurse training. Having already had a taste of flight nursing, Ott was eager to get back into the air. For more about that mission, see Beyond the Call of Duty.

Elsie Ott receives Air Medal, 26 March 1943
[USAF Photo]

While other squadrons were setting new records for number of patients evacuated, the 819 MAES flight nurses were grousing about their assignment in Prestwick, Scotland. With three complete squadrons available for air evacuation missions beginning in September 1944, the workload was light. When the 816 MAES had left for France in October and the 806 MAES was rumored to be on its way soon, flight nurse Phoebe La Munyan turned to the squadron history to vent her frustration on the delay in movement orders for the 819 MAES:

Uncensored, beauteous manuscript of undetermined style;
Outlet for a thousand woes which make the best souls rile;
Confessor of a thousand sins found in no other file;
I wonder if you realize you’re very much worthwhile!

For any transgression, we make a confession,
Or turn (we hope) ‘subtle’ accuser.
To right supposed wrongs, we type out our songs
Attempting to crush the abuser.

You’re not just a recorder of events, or a hoarder
Of morning reports and S.O.’s!
You’re our steam valve escape to keep us in shape –
Suppress tempers no matter what goes.

You help us coordinate, suppress, insubordinate,
Stop court martials ‘fore they begin.
Though designed for Posterity, it appears with true clarity,
You quiet the present’s mad din.

So we stop to salute – Take time out enroute
As we pour forth this latest edition.
We scrawl out this tripe and spread on our gripe
In accordance with army tradition! 2

The situation had not improved by December, and squadron historian June Sander’s parody of “’Twas the night before Christmas” brought no results:

‘Twas the night before Christmas’ in the ETO [European Theatre of Operations]
Our bedding rolls were packed all ready to go.
We went to church and said prayers sincere
In hopes that our orders soon would be here. 3

With too much time on their hands as the holidays approached, the flight nurses’ gripes intensified when holiday packages and mail failed to reach them. When the most wished-for gift – orders transferring the 819 MAES to a new assignment – still did not materialize, La Munyan picked up her pen again to indulge in some self-pity on behalf of her squadron:

Christmas is over. – The New Year draws near. –
And from all appearances we still will be here,
We’ve spouted and pouted and fumed and we’ve roared,
The 819th’s transfer has well been ignored,
Our Mail cannot find us; We’re parked upon shelves,
We surely fell sorry for – namely – ourselves.

The times in the offing at the close of the year
For new resolutions soon to appear.
We’re firmly convinced we should make a stand,
Size ourselves up and take us in hand:
We will do our best no matter where stuck.
We’ll try not to send our tempers amuck.
We’ll settle us down and all cease to gripe:
But who – inblueblazes – would believe all this tripe: P.H.L. 4

Orders for the 819 MAES finally arrived in February 1945, sending them to Greenham Commons and from there to France in April, which proved to be the squadron’s busiest month of activities when they evacuated 12,354 patients from Germany and France to England. 5

The deaths of flight nurse colleagues called out the inner poet in their friends. Lieutenant Catherine Price of the 817 MAES, who was on detached service with the 816 MAES in Europe, was lost along with her enlisted technician and 18 litter patients on 25 July 1944 when the aircraft in which they were traveling was reported missing en route to Newfoundland. The last communication with the flight crew occurred about 200 miles off the southern tip of Greenland. After a month of searching for the missing aircraft and waiting for word from or about its crew members, all hope was abandoned of finding survivors. Alice Fraser, a close friend, wrote “The Lost Mercy Plane” in Price’s memory, but her poem honors all the flight nurses who served their country during the war:

One of the stars in our service flag
Has turned from blue to gold;
A nurse’s cap has been laid aside
God has given her a crown to hold.

She offered her life for her country
Just as every American should;
She sat by the cots of the wounded
Their suffering she understood.

She traveled through miles of terror,
She wiped the tear filled eyes;
She silently prayed for her wounded boys,
As she flew through the darkened skys [sic].

And the boys on board that mercy plane,
Had faith in her gentle hand.
But why it had to be Catherine
We may never understand.

When we talk of the brave and courageous,
We naturally think of the men.
But our girls are winning a star and a stripe
When they offer their life for a friend.

Our girls can take their orders,
And they can lift up the stars and stripes,
And after this war is over,
May their sacrifice make things right. 6

When enlisted sergeant William J. Deak wrote his poem “Eloise,” supposedly at the request of flight nurse Eloise Richardson of the 801 MAES, he couldn’t have known that he was penning a eulogy as well as a love poem:

Of all the girls in all the lands
She seems the most attractive
Everything about her blends
To make my heart too active[.]

A pretty girl I’ve never seen
As this lovely Eloise
Anywhere I’ve ever been
Its her I long to squeeze.

Around her I long, my arms to throw
But behold she wears a bar
So sadder and weaker my heart does grow
While from her I remain afar.

Only a sergeant is what I am,
While she’s a second louie,
Majors and colonels, made me scram,
But to me it’s all so screwy.

So day by day my love does store
For Lt. Eloise Richardson
After the war, rank won’t be anymore
Then ma[y]be our love will have fun. 7

Lieutenant Eloise Richardson had a premonition of her death. Helena Ilic, one of the new flight nurses in Richardson’s squadron, remembered her saying at a party, “I’m never going to leave here.” Ilic replied, “Oh, Eloise, of course we are. We’re all going to leave here. One day this war will be over, and we’ll all go home.” 8  But on the evening of 18 May 1944 the plane in which Richardson was flying on her way to pick up a load of patients departed Bougainville for Guadalcanal and vanished. The weather had been poor in the vicinity of New Georgia, but other planes had gotten through without difficulty. The next day squadron members – flight nurses among them – went up in planes to search the area where the missing plane might have gone down but saw no trace of wreckage. 9 Richardson was declared missing in action and was the first nurse from the 801 MAES to lose her life. Richardson’s death ended her flight nurse colleagues’ sense of invincibility against the ravages of war; it must have been a devastating blow to Deak as well, whose future dreams had included his “lovely Eloise.”

Eloise Richardson, Guadalcanal, c. 1 May 1944
[USAF Photo]

Poetic tributes to the flight nurses were not limited to their own squadron members. Even pilots waxed poetic. Although it might not have been their first choice of assignment, some pilots enjoyed flying missions with flight nurses on board, as this excerpt from “Troop Carrier Song – New Guinea” reveals:

I have seen Savannah dropping down from four to five
And I wondered if one of us would get back alive
And if I had to do it over, I would rather die
As I flew the Nurses home.

Chorus. Glory, Glory that’s the way I want to fight
Glory, Glory, that’s the way I want to fight
Glory, Glory, that’s the way I want to fight
Just flying the Nurses home.

I’d rather fly a fighter than a transport any day
I’d rather fly a fortress than a biscuit-bomb at Lae
But when I see the Nurses you can bet I’ll always say
I’ll fly the Nurses home.

Chorus. Glory, Glory that’s the way I want to fight
Glory, Glory, that’s the way I want to fight
Glory, Glory, that’s the way I want to fight
Just flying the Nurses home.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the fighters victory roll
They have fought at thirty thousand, and have downed a worthy foe
And I have seen the bombers drop destruction down below
As I flew the Nurses home.

Chorus. Glory, Glory, what a hell of a way to fight
Glory, Glory, what a hell of a way to fight
Glory, Glory, what a hell of a way to fight
Just flying the Nurses home. 10

Flight nurses who were not evacuating patients could be assigned on a temporary basis to army station hospitals but had to be available at any time for their primary flying mission. Such duty, however, could fuel ill will in the nurses it was meant to help. According to Robert Futrell, army nurses in the Southwest Pacific made flight nurses of the 804 MAES remove their wings before arriving at their location. Similarly, when flight nurses volunteered to serve in an army hospital on Biak when not permitted to go onto the beachhead at Leyte in the Philippines, the hospital refused their help unless the flight nurses first removed their wings. 11

Not all ground nurses resented their airborne sisters, however. When flight nurses of the 804 MAES could not make flights past Port Morseby and Dibodura in New Guinea, station hospitals gave them food and lodging. Janet Foome, chief nurse of the 87th Station Hospital in Dobodura rendered poetic justice to these nurses whom she had housed and fed temporarily. The nurses at her hospital would be sorry to see the flight nurses leave for their next flying duties, she wrote, but realized that they had important, though not easy, work to do:

The little gold wings you wear o’er your heart
Signify to us that you have a hard part
To do in this job of winning the war
So here’s to you Nurses of the Army Air Corps. 12



1          Elsie Ott and Georgia Insley, “803rd Lament,” 803 MAES, July 1943. [AFHRA MED-803-HI]

2          P.H.L. [Phoebe H. La Munyan], “Squadron History – Section III: Ode to Squadron Histories,” in “Headquarters 819th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron,” 31 October 1944. [AFHRA MED-819-HI]

3          June Sanders, “819th Squadron History – Section III,” 30 November 1944, 1. [AFHRA MED-819-HI]

4          P.H.L. [Phoebe H. La Munyan], “Squadron History – Section III,” 819 MAES, 31 December 1944, 1. [AFHRA MED-819-HI]

5          Emerson C. Kunde, “Part II – Narrative History,” 819 MAES, 30 April 1945. [AFHRA MED-819-HI]

6          Alice Fraser, “The Lost Mercy Plane,” 817 MAES. [AFHRA MED-817-HI] Reprinted in World War II Flight Nurses Association, The Story of Air Evacuation 1942–1989 (Dallas, TX: Taylor, 1989), 158–59.

7          Found with Wilbur A. Smith, “Historical Data, I July 1944 to 31 July 1944,” 801 MAES, 2 August 1944. [AFHRA-MED-801-HI]

8          Ilic Tynan, interview with Judith Barger, San Antonio, TX, 26 April 1986.

9          Ibid.; “Historical Data, 1 May 1944 to 31 May 1944,” 801 MAES, 2 June 1944. [AFHRA MED-801-HI]

10       “Troop Carrier Song – New Guinea,” enclosure No. 18 in Leopold J. Snyder, “History of the 804th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron for April, 1944,” 27 May 1944, 45. [AFHRA MED-804-HI]

11       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).

12       Janet Foome, “Christmas Greetings and Farewell,” enclosure No. 17 in Snyder, “History of the 804th,” 27 May 1944, 44. {AFHRA MED-804-HI]


World War II Army Flight Nurses – 16 Jul 2017

World War II Army Flight Nurses in Song

Training for World War II flight nurses at Bowman Field, Kentucky was a memorable event for those army nurses selected for air evacuation duty. I detail that training in Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II.

Class songs often commemorated this time of rigorous military preparation. Familiar tunes fit with new words gave the flight nurses songs that fostered patriotism, esprit de corps and pride in their squadrons. The fourth class to graduate, on 2 July 1943, drew on the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ for inspiration:

Verse 1. Oh we went to school at Bowman and we earned a pair of wings,
Not for just the honor that the wearing of them brings,
Air Evacuation is the goal of all our schemes,
As we go flying on!

Verse 2. The training we’ve completed hasn’t done us any harm,
The sight of the enemy will cause us no alarm,
We’re fighting for a chance to speed our country’s liberty,
As we go flying on!

Chorus. Soaring through the heat of tropics,
Flying through the cold of arctic,
Bringing back our wounded soldiers,
So they can fight again. *

To the tune of ‘Thanks for the Memories’, members of the fifth class waxed nostalgic – though perhaps with tongue in cheek – as their 13 August 1943 graduation date neared:

Verse 1. Thanks for the memories of drilling in the sun
And making it seem fun, and eating sand
And killing flies and guarding with a gun,
Oh, thank you so much.

Verse 2. Thanks for the memories of swimming every week,
Of forming in the street, of scrubbing clothes
And dusting doors and bathing in the creek,
Oh, thank you so much.

Verse 3. Many’s the time that we sweated,
We thought that the day’d never come.
But we’ll make it, so help me, we’ll make it,
We’ll show them we’re all not so dumb.

Verse 4. Oh, thanks for the memories of sleeping in the rain,
Of spiders in the dark, of pitching tents
And digging holes for purposes quite plain,
Oh, thank you so much.

Flight nurses on parade at Bowman Field (USAF Photo)

The flight nurses of the 810 Medical Air Evacuation Squadron [MAES] took musical flight with ‘The Man on the Flying Trapeze’ for their Lament:

Verse 1. We fly thru the air with the greatest of ease,
Our burning desire is to go overseas;
Our greatest ambition, the soldiers to please,
We’re anxious to frustrate the foe.

Verse 2. Our muscles are bulging, our clothes getting tight,
We’re eager and ready to get in the fight,
Now won’t you take pity upon our sad plight?
Oh, General, please let us go.

The general to whom they referred was General David N.W. Grant, Air Surgeon, Army Air Forces, who had oversight of the medical air evacuation program, which he and his staff had instituted.

David N.W. Grant, Air Surgeon, Army Air Forces (USAF Photo)

An Ode to the 810 MAES was sung to ‘MacNamara’s Band’:

Verse 1. We’re the fighting (mighty) 810th from Bowman, the best squadron on the field,
And our superiority to no one will we yield.
From life’s trials and tribulations we ask no one to us shield,
We’ll prove that we’re in earnest once our orders are unsealed.

Verse 2. We’re skinny and fat and lanky and short, some pretty and some cute,
And while we’re very modest, our own horns don’t like to toot,
We can hold our own with the very best, as well as shoot and salute.
If General Pershing could see us now, for us we’re sure he’d root.

Verse 3. Oh – the armies used to travel on their stomachs, so they say,
But modern Florence Nightingales go quite a different way,
For we’re a part of something which is really here to stay,
And, General Grant, we’re out to prove that what we’ve said ain’t hay.

The 811 MAES composed their own battle cry to the tune of the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’:

Verse 1. We’re the Fighting 811th from the School of Air Evac,
In the fight for vic’try as we fly the wounded back.
A bunch of Eager Beavers with our banner flying high,
We’ll all be back again.

Verse 2. They taught us how to load a plane and how to shoot a gun,
Drive a Jeep or pitch a tent and drilling in the sun,
If we meet the enemy we know what’s to be done,
So we’ll be back again.

Verse 3. We’re happy in our squadron and we’re proud of Captain Gray,
All the other Officers, our Chief Nurse Poirier,
They’re teaching us to be prepared for what may come our way,
So we’ll be back again.

Verse 4. We’ll bring to Colonel Stevenson and Captain Leontine,
All the fame of Air Evac that started as a dream.
When the war is over and our final goal is won,
We’ll all be back to say:

Chorus. We’re the Fighting 811th,
Flying patients thru’ the heavens,
Bringing glory to our Squadron,
Till we come back again.

School of Air Evacuation, Bowman Field, KY (USAF Photo)

The nurses of the 822 MAES, who were experiencing one of the less glamorous aspects of air travel, brought some humor to the situation to the tune of ‘Paper Doll’:

Verse 1. I’m going to buy a paper bag that I can call my own,
A bag that all us nurses need up there.
For when this evacuation plane takes off of this terrain,
I’ll need a bag to fill up with some …… air.
When we come down to earth there’ll be some waiting;
We’ll get this plane in readiness for war.
I’d rather have a paper bag to call my own
Than stay and G.I. up the floor.

Verse 2. I guess I brought a million bags or more,
Oh, I guess I should have bought a dozen more.
I just told the crew, that my job was new,
I need a stomach made of iron ore.
Oh! it’s tough to make the grade at Air Evac,
But it ain’t so tough as cleaning up this fact.
I’d rather have a paper bag to call my own
Than stay to G.I. up the floor,
I really mean it!
Than stay to G.I. up the floor.

Some songs were composed to honor military leaders whom the squadrons recognized for their role in advancing air evacuation and the flight nurse role. General Grant was the recipient of musical tributes, one of which, to the tune of ‘Pack up Your Troubles’, the 811 MAES flight nurses sang to the general in person when he visited Bowman Field:

Here’s to the friend of every Air Force Nurse.
We’re Proud to say,
He helped to make the School of Air Evac.
What it is today:
Gave us wings and flying clothes,
We’re trained for come what may. So,
Let’s give a rousing cheer for General GRANT!
He’s here, to-day.

Not to be outdone, the 812 MAES flight nurses composed their own tribute to General Grant to the tune of ‘Danny Boy’:

Verse 1. Oh, Air Evacuation is our goal you see,
Our mission is to bring our wounded home.
Through this we help to speed our country’s liberty –
We’ll be the greatest team the world has ever known.

Verse 2. For this we owe to one who made it possible –
Our sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude –
For General Grant, the father of our SAE,
We’ll do our best and bring our boys through.

Colonel Ralph Stevenson also received a musical tribute. As Commandant of the 349th Aeromedical Evacuation Group, Stevenson oversaw the training of the flight nurses. The nurses fittingly set their song for their ‘dandy’ commandant, to ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’:

He’s an SAE-E dandy,
He’s a good scout thru and thru.
A commandant that we are proud to claim,
He made this the best of all schools.
Where ere the AAF may send him,
We will cheer him all the way.
Col. Stevenson goes to Stout
To carry on his duties,
He is our AAF, SAE pride and joy.

Stevenson had orders transferring him to Stout Army Air Field in Indianapolis as First Troop Carrier Command Surgeon.

The flight nurses of Class 43H that graduated from the School of Air Evacuation at Bowman Field on 21 January 44, set the words of their class song to the Cornell Alma Mater. Their own Alma Mater praised their instructors and chief nurse and vowed to apply what they had learned to save the lives of the wounded soldiers under their care:

Verse 1. Hail to thee our Alma Mater,
Hail to SAE,
When we’re far across the water,
We’ll remember thee.
Hail to all our fine instructors
And our chief Nurse too,
We’ll remember all you’ve taught us
We will see this thru.

Verse 2. We will care for all the wounded
In the skies above,
We will see that they return
To the ones they love.
When the battle cry is over
And we’re here to stay,
We will praise our Alma Mater
For the part she played.

Ethel Carlson, Jenny Boyle, Brooxie Mowrey and Frances Sandstrom, graduates of that class, were sent to England, where they flew into Normandy after D Day, and all saw it through without losing a patient inflight. Each of these flight nurses is featured in previously posted blogs on 10 January 2015, 20 January 2015, 14 August 2016 and 18 December 2016, respectively.

* All songs included in this blog are from the Leora B. Stroup papers archived at the AMEDD Museum at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio,Texas. I have corrected obvious typographical errors found in the original typed documents and added missing punctuation when needed to make the songs more readable – and singable.

Music in The Girl’s Own Paper – 18 Jun 2017

Musical Nurses

Although not a music journal, The Girl’s Own Paper (TGOP), published in London by the Religious Tract Society beginning on 3 January 1880, clearly considered music a worthy topic, which readers encountered in music scores, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, illustrations and replies to musical correspondents. Music in The Girl’s Own Paper: An Annotated Catalogue, 1880 – 1910, lists the many musical references found in the magazine, some of which are linked to nursing.

At the end of 1889, A Templar’s commentary in Volume 11 of TGOP on ‘The Girls of To-day’ introduced the magazine’s readers to the modern woman and modern girl, forerunners of the New Woman whose birth was discussed so widely in the periodical press during the 1890s. The author rejoiced that a thorough education, broader interests, sounder judgments and more lively outdoor exercise and recreation set today’s young women apart from their predecessors.

The debates about women who sought higher education raised the troubling issue of their marital status. Much was made of female graduates’ desire not to marry because the domesticity and household management it entailed would inconvenience their intellectual pursuits. A parallel discourse in the press centred on those spinsters in need of gainful employment often requiring prerequisite education or specialised training to prepare them for the world of work.

While not a focus of TGOP, the spinster nevertheless was encountered in nonfiction and fiction about the most popular employment opportunity among the magazine’s readers – professional nursing. In its first two decades of publication, TGOP included occasional articles about employments for girls, such as millinery, pharmacy and sanitation and hygiene. Judging by the number of replies in the Answers to Correspondents columns during the 1890s, civil service employment was on the minds of many readers, particularly clerkships in the post office. If replies in the Answers to Correspondents columns offer a representative sampling of the employment that TGOP readers most desired, however, visions of becoming a nurse topped the list.

Professional nursing had entered the public’s consciousness in 1854 when 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 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

‘Nursing has become one of the fashionable crazes of the day,’ wrote Amy S. Woods in ‘Modern Girls’, printed 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 these who enter them, and masculine society is not prohibited.’ 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. [Volume 14, p, 500]

As Woods hinted, the reality of nursing was in stark contrast to its idealized image. A minimum age of 23 for probationers assured that nursing candidates would have maturity and some education. A literacy test and 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. 2 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. 3

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. As the ranks filled with gentlewomen, nursing shifted from the military metaphor to a maternal one. 4 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.’ 5 But nursing was not for the faint hearted or physically frail. All probationers were plunged into a grueling 15-hour hospital day ordered by a regimen ‘clearly intended to weed out all but the most determined’. 6

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 columns beginning in the magazine’s first volume when ANNIE was given information about lady probationers, Saint Thomas Hospital and Westminster Training School for nurses. [Volume 1] Most correspondents were told that they were too young to enter training as probationers. The editor soon tired of repeating himself. ‘We give answers to such questions as yours nearly every week,’ he told NETTA in 1886. [Volume 7, p. 703] Three years later, an exasperated editor 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.’ [Volume 11, p. 79] By the end of the magazine’s first decade, the editor told MAUDE P., MARY HOPE, CLYTIE, CARDEW and others that the nursing profession and training hospitals were ‘now much over-stocked’. [Volume 11, pp. 256, 688] With a waiting list of applicants desiring such work, it was ‘almost useless our recommending a hospital now’. [Volume 11, p. 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 two thousand applications in the year,’ the editor told MAY and M.E.H. in 1897; he noted one thousand applications refused yearly at Westminster Hospital alone in 1893. [Volume 18, p. 239, Volume 14] Rather than repeat the details in replies to letters arriving on almost a weekly basis, he began referring readers to the book How to Become a Nurse by nursing and child-care reformer Honnor Morten. As the editor told TOYDONIA in 1894, he was ‘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”’. [Volume 16, p. 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 first on their spelling. NELL GLEN had made 12 mistakes in only a few lines written to the editor in 1886; [Volume 7] ONE IN EARNEST, MARY F., ANXIOUS TO SERVE ARIGHT and J.T. were given the same advice in 1892. [Volume 13] 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.‘ [Volume 13, p. 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.’ [Volume 13, p. 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. [Volume 18, p. 559] EMBRYO’s letter brought to his 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.’ 7

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. [Volume 12, p. 416] The next year, Caulfeild, who included professional nursing among the ‘New Employments for Girls’ considered it ‘trite’ to say much, since the subject had been exhaustively discussed – much of it by Caulfeild herself. [Volume 13, p. 362]

Nursing was also the subject of serialized 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’, ‘In Monmouth Ward: A Story of Night-Duty’ and ‘”Sister Warwick”: A Story of Influence’, all by H. Mary Wilson, and ‘The Wards of St. Margaret’s’ by Sister Joan, describe hospital nurses at work and off duty. [Volume 14, Volume 18, Volume 20, Volume 15] Another theme focuses on why young women choose nursing. In ‘Marsh Marigolds’ by Ada Trotter, 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. [Volume 16, p. 327] The episode reinforces the 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.’ [Volume 12, p. 245]

A nurse topped the list in a competition in Volume 18. 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 in Guildford received honourable mention.

‘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.” [Volume 18, p. 412]

She described the routine of her 12-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, she became a private duty nurse, a choice made perhaps because of the better pay and longer working life. 8

Nursing, both amateur and professional, continued to capture the attention of TGOP and its correspondents in the first decade of the twentieth century, but 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. 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.

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. [Volume 22, p. 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. [Volume 23]

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.’ [Volume 25, p. 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. [Volume 25]

Judging by replies in the Answers to Correspondents column, readers took Anna’s suggestion to heart. MABEL, A READER OF THE ‘G.O.P.’, M.C. and ROTHA all asked about asylum nursing. [Volume 23, Volume 24, Volume 25] 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. [Volume 23, p. 80]

Perhaps A.K. stood a better chance of getting into a private mental asylum as a musician.



1          Martha Vicinus, Independent Women: Work and Community for Single Women 1850–1920 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 96.
2          Vicinus103–104.
3          Vicinus, 97.
4          Vicinus, 87–88, 101.
5          Vicinus , 112.
6          Vicinus, 91.
7          Punch, 7 December 1889, 267.
8          Vicinus, 118.




Music in The Girl’s Own Paper – 4 Jun 2017

Oh How They Loved to Sing!

Although not a music journal, The Girl’s Own Paper (TGOP), published in London by the Religious Tract Society beginning on 3 January 1880, clearly considered music a worthy topic, which readers encountered in music scores, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, illustrations and replies to musical correspondents. Music in The Girl’s Own Paper: An Annotated Catalogue, 1880 – 1910, lists the many musical references found in the magazine.

One of the most frequently asked questions about music found in the Answers to Correspondents column apparently was the age at which a girl could begin voice lessons. During the magazine’s first year, correspondents Tot and Tiny were told, ‘The earliest age at which it would be safe for a girl to commence singing lessons is from fifteen to sixteen. You may sing if you like to amuse yourself, but that is quite a different thing from being trained.’ [Volume 1, p. 208] * Rachel was ‘certainly too young to learn “solo singing” at age thirteen’ and was told, ‘Wait till sixteen, or you will ruin your voice. Sing for amusement if you like – not as a lesson, with suitable training.’ [Volume 1, p. 352] At fourteen, Genevra also was too young – ‘sixteen is the earliest age for making a beginning’. [Volume 1, p. 623]

Beginning with the first article about singing found in TGOP, ‘Home Accomplishments I. How to Sing a Song’ by Madame Mudie-Bolingbroke, an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, readers with ‘a pleasing voice and correct ear’ were encouraged to cultivate their voices. [Volume 1, p. 54] The wisdom of Robert Schumann, included in a Varieties column, reinforced this message:

SINGING.Try to sing at sight, without the help of an instrument, even if you have but little voice; your ear will thereby gain in fineness. But, if you possess a powerful voice, do not lose a moment, but cultivate it immediately, and look upon it as one of the best gifts Heaven has bestowed upon you. Schumann. [Volume 1, p. 143]

In a follow-on article, ‘How to Improve the Voice’, the popular soprano soloist Miss Mary Davies stressed management of the breath, with the aid of a good master and a good instruction book, and choosing exercises within the compass of the voice, not too high, not too low. In closing Davies identified the three necessary qualities of patience, perseverance and enthusiasm for anyone wishing to learn to sing. [Volume 1]

TGOP offered vocal sheet music in most of its weekly issues. The first, ‘Under the Snow’, is a two-page vocal solo with piano accompaniment composed by John Farmer, organist and Music Master to Harrow School, to words by nineteenth-century American poet Hannah F. Gould. The text encourages patience, like the crocus under the snow, in today’s gloomiest hour, for tomorrow will be brighter. [Volume 1, pp. 70–71] The piece gives an idea of the level of musical proficiency readers were expected to possess. Moving between minor and major modes, the piece with its 3/4 time signature has a simple waltz accompaniment that ends in the major mode. The even simpler vocal line beginning on the D above middle C peaks on F sharp a tenth above.     

‘Under the Snow’, composed by John Farmer to text by Hannah Gould. The Girl’s Own Paper, Volume 1, pp. 70 – 71. [Lutterworth Press]

Amateur singing came with its own rules of etiquette. A vocalist should never refuse to sing if asked during a musical entertainment in someone’s home. As the editor told correspondent Alta in Volume 1:

It is wrong to persistently refuse to sing if you have a voice. Nothing is so thoroughly wretched to a stranger as to meet a girl at a musical party who refuses to exert herself to take part in the entertainment. It is conceited to be nervous. Nobody wants to hear you. It is the music of the composer and the words of the song that they wish you to expound to them. Try to do this intelligently, and all your mind will be so occupied that you will forget yourself. [p. 623]

Correspondent Zena Rosckma was told in the same volume that the hostess or daughter of the house always should sing first before asking her guests to do so. [Volume 1] And listeners should not interrupt the singing with conversation – an expected courtesy reinforced in the magazine’s nonfiction and fiction.

The care of the voice was an ongoing concern to correspondents apparently requesting remedies to improve their throats for singing. The advice given to correspondent Ruby, who ‘is going to sing for the first time publicly, and wants to have a clear voice’, is representative of those remedies:

Let her take a tonic for a fortnight before: ten drops of tincture of iron, and a teaspoonful of tincture of oranges three times a day in a little water for a fortnight or three weeks previous to appearing, and suck about five grains or more of solid chorate of potash an hour or two before singing. [Volume 1]

Vocal health was a concern as well to the magazine’s contributing physician ‘Medicus’, who offers relevant advice in ‘The Care of the Voice’ in Volume 1. Admitting that he has nothing to do with voice training, but only with the singer’s health, ‘which ought to be kept up to par with learning to sing or taking lessons’, the author gives sensible advice: do not strain the voice or try to sing too high or too low, and do not sacrifice sweetness and expression for loudness of tone. ‘I love a song with a soul behind it’, the straight-talking physician says, ‘but when I’m compelled to listen to one who screams I wonder to myself what wrong I’ve committed to deserve so great an infliction. Well, then exercise of the voice ought always to be in moderation.’ [Volume 1, p. 454]

TGOP fiction contrasted proper with improper use of the voice from a moral as well as vocal standpoint, beginning with the 40-chapter serialized fiction ‘Zara; or, My Granddaughter’s Money’ that opened the magazine’s first issue. When Paul Tench finds Zara Meldicot Keith to give her the money left by her now deceased grandmother at his family’s lodging house long ago, Zara is a milliner’s assistant by day and a music-hall singer by night. In an effort to dissuade her from a singing career, Paul asks Zara whether she has ever considered ‘what immense application, what careful study, what years of education, of practice, of travel, it requires to make a really brilliant “artist”’. She replies naively, ‘I should think a good voice with very little teaching would do.’ [Volume 1, p. 210] Significantly, the fortune is handed over to Zara only after she has left the music hall and married a responsible man. Rose Everleigh’s story in Anne Beale’s ‘Quite a Lady’ contrasts with Zara’s. When her mother dies, Rose relies on her vocal talent for much needed income. She finds her one paid engagement as a concert singer so distasteful, though, that she vows to starve rather than reappear on stage. But Rose did not starve, for she, too, was ‘rescued’ financially by marriage. [Volume 1]

The stage was set, literally and figuratively, for messages that the magazine conveyed to its readers about the role of music in their lives. In ‘Higher Thoughts on Girls’ Occupations’ in Volume 4, Alice King’s voice was the first of many in TGOP’s ongoing crusade against the nuisance some would-be musicians were to others. Girls with musical aspirations fall into two categories – the bullfinches and the parrots – King wrote. The first group, who show evidence of talent at an early age, should be nourished in their musical studies. The second group should be encouraged to spend their time in other, nonmusical pursuits. Fiction reinforced the message. In ‘Three Years of a Girl’s Life’, serialized in 17 chapters in Volume 1, Clara Henderson’s singing voice is like a peacock’s pitched an octave too high; her sister Alice’s contralto is reminiscent of a bird with a cough.

Picking up on the tone of such fiction, the Varieties column treated vocalists to an abundance of lighthearted banter such as ‘How She Sang’ in Volume 18:

Edith: ‘You can’t imagine how Mr. Bullfinch appreciated your singing.’
Ethel: ‘Did he, though?’
Edith: ‘Yes; he said it was simply heavenly.’
Ethel: ‘Really?’
Edith: ‘Well, just the same thing; he said it was simply unearthly.’ [p. 710]

For the uncommonly talented, King considered music a legitimate calling when approached earnestly and soberly, ‘keeping firm hold of the Almighty hand’, and wearing ‘the whole armour of Christ’. [Volume 4, p. 823] A good voice was considered a gift from God to be used to glorify him. Fictional heroines who choose public singing careers often lose their grip or their armour and find themselves headed down a slippery slope to ruin until a life-changing event redirects their path. For 17-year-old Marietta Stefani in a small Tuscan village, the opportunity to study singing in Florence offers a means to reverse her struggling family’s financial setback. But despite warnings, Marietta lets her head be turned by her new life. Realising her folly, Marietta stops singing in public but shares her gift of song with family, friends and charities, and thanks God that she turned back from the perilous road on which she had started. [Volume 7]

In Eglanton Thorne’s ‘Her Own Way’, serialized in 28 chapters in Volume 16, Juliet Tracy wants to be a public singer, for its splendid life standing before an audience with every eye on her, ‘listening spell-bound to her voice’. [p.146] When permitted to take singing lessons from an Italian master, Juliet reads into his words only what she wants to hear rather than the truth, letting vanity fuel a dream that her vocal progress does not support. A number of mishaps highlighting the dangers of selfish actions and vocal study abroad leave Juliet penniless and thankful for the home to which she returns, where she puts her gift to good account, singing in her parish choir. ‘We cannot take our own way and God’s way, too,’ the author moralizes. [p. 227] Myles Foster had voiced a similar message in ‘Singing in Church’ in Volume 5: readers who pay for expensive singing lessons to master ballads during the week should give equal, careful and prayerful attention to singing church hymns in congregation and choir stalls on Sundays.

The magazine made a clear distinction between those girls who pursued music as a pastime and those who pursued it as a profession, and most heroines who took the latter route eventually left it for the more enduring fame of marriage and motherhood. Eighteen-year-old Odette Gerard, in ‘Odette: Soprano: A Story Taken from Real Life’, serialized in 42 chapters in Volume 27, travels to Florence to study voice on a meagre £50. When at the end of two years her money has run out and she learns it will take two more years of training to make a credible debut, the discouraged singer marries a British physician who has been hovering in the background and returns to England to take up ‘that other song, the song of love and home’. [p. 451] Odette’s story illustrates the premise of Madame Melba’s article ‘Why So Many Students Fail in the Musical Profession’ printed in Volume 30 of TGOP. The well-known vocalist offers practical advice concerning young women who flock to the Continent, lured by the glamour of a professional singing career, but who lack the true talent and adequate finances to sustain their vocal study.

And, lest readers forget that one should sing only for selfless purposes, the message often was reinforced in the magazine’s fiction. In Sarah Doudney’s ‘The Angel’s Gift’ in Volume 22, only John Rayne, one of a trio of young men with the ‘angel’s gift’ of song, uses his talent wisely when he becomes a cathedral chorister; the other two seek fame and fortune and eventually lose their voices. John’s sister Avice, who accompanies the singers on the organ, reminds them gently ‘that a divine gift should be used only for divine ends.’ [p. 146]

As Mudie-Bolingbroke wrote in Volume 1, the natural voice, unlike artificial instruments, has the power to appeal to the heart; the singer was encouraged to sing from her own heart to touch the hearts of her listeners. The author’s conclusion from Longfellow set the tone for the magazine’s continued approach to this popular accomplishment: ‘God sends His singers upon earth / With songs of sadness and of mirth, / That they may touch the hearts of men, / And bring them back to Heaven again.’ [p. 56]

* Complete citations may be found in Judith Barger, Music in The Girl’s Own Paper: An Annotated Catalogue, 1880 – 1910 (London and New York: Routledge, 2017).

Music in The Girl’s Own Paper – 6 May 17

Instruments and Instrumentalists
in The Girl’s Own Paper

Part Two: The Organ

Although not a music journal, The Girl’s Own Paper (TGOP), published in London by the Religious Tract Society beginning on 3 January 1880, clearly considered music a worthy topic, which readers encountered in music scores, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, illustrations and replies to musical correspondents. Music in The Girl’s Own Paper: An Annotated Catalogue, 1880 – 1910, lists the many musical references found in the magazine.

During TGOP’s first decade, ‘how to’ primers on playing musical instruments appeared, from singing a song in Volume 1 to playing the zither in Volume 10. Piano, violin, organ, harmonium, harp, guitar, concertina, mandolin, banjo and xylophone rounded out the list. Of all the primers, only those for singing, pianoforte and violin appeared more than once, suggesting that these were the preferred forms of music making to which TGOP readers should – and did – aspire. Unlike banjo playing, the focus of the previous blog, organ playing was encouraged because of its usefulness in houses of worship.

John Stainer, organist of Saint Paul’s Cathedral and organ professor at the National Training School for Music, set the tone for making music on that instrument when he told readers of TGOP in ‘How to Play the Organ’, simply to ‘do it’. [Volume 1, p. 328] * His technical approach to instruction may have been off-putting to some readers, however. After guiding them through the perils of reaching an organ in an imaginary church loft, he introduces them to ‘four rows of keys, one over the other, a row of foot-keys or pedals below them, sundry little iron levers, called composition pedals, and fifty stops, twenty-five on each side’. [pp. 328–29] He then explains the meaning behind the names and numbers on these stop-handles regarding compass, pitch and tone. Only after becoming acquainted with the stops and manuals is the imaginary organist permitted to take a seat on the bench and begin trying the organ.

Readers wanting a less complicated instrument to play may have been discouraged by King Hall’s ‘How to Play the Harmonium’, which followed in the same annual volume of the magazine. ‘I dare say you, my kind reader, will be able to recall without much difficulty the disappointment, and perhaps disgust, with which you have risen from the harmonium after attempting to perform some simple piece of music for the first time,’ the author writes. [Volume 1, p. 472] Hall admits that this reaction is normal, for the harmonium is not an easy instrument to learn and may initially seem refractory and arbitrary; even the organ, with its complicated construction, is more straightforward in its challenges, he contends. He then draws on organ construction to explain construction of the harmonium and its stops, pitches and tones. But the author ends with a reassuring ‘Do not be disheartened, dear reader, a little perseverance is all that is necessary to enable you to overcome the difficulties which perhaps at first appear almost insurmountable.’ [p. 473]

TGOP already had organists among its readers, some of whom played the harmonium, before Stainer’s and Hall’s primers appeared in the magazine. Poppy, A Village Organist and Mary all had inquired about the organ and received replies in the correspondence columns; replies to M.A.B., Marian and Sweet Seventeen followed in the magazine’s first year. [Volume 1]

Most correspondents apparently asked sensible questions to which the magazine’s editor responded in like manner. Correspondent Marigold, however, must have been an exception. The editor, who was known on occasion to have a bit of fun at the correspondent’s expense, wrote: ‘MARIGOLD wishes to know “if a boy of twenty can learn to play an American organ?” Why not? What is the matter with this somewhat “elderly” boy? Has he lost all his teeth, or his hair? What prevents his learning to perform on either the hurdy-gurdy or the French horn, unless the tips of his fingers were frost-bitten? Foolish Marigold, those chilblains of yours must have affected your head.’ [Volume 6, p. 655]

Correspondent Scotia’s request could not be granted. ‘We cannot give you lessons in playing the harmonium,’ the editor wrote; he referred her to Hall’s article in Volume 1. [Volume 8] Correspondents Judie, Norah and Birdie were referred to the London Organ School and International College of Music for lessons; A Quaver was given information about the Royal College of Organists. [Volumes 5, 15, 16, 22]

That TGOP expected to have organists among its readers is evident from the help the magazine offered them in choosing repertoire for the instrument. Beginning in Volume 9 through Volume 19, TGOP included what it considered suitable pieces for American organ or harmonium among its printed music scores, listed below.

Volume 9
Rêverie (J.W. Hinton) (harmonium or American organ)

Volume 12
Allegretto Giojoso (Myles B. Foster) (pianoforte or American organ)
Andante Pastorale (Myles B. Foster) (pianoforte or American organ)

Volume 13
Crusaders’ March (Myles B. Foster) (harmonium or American organ)
Elegy (Myles B. Foster) (harmonium or American organ)
Meditation (Myles B. Foster) (harmonium or American organ)

Volume 14
Supplication (Myles B. Foster) (harmonium or American organ)

Volume 17
Postlude (Myles B. Foster) (pianoforte or American organ)

Volume 19
Adagio ma non Troppo (Myles B. Foster) (pianoforte or American organ)
Allegro con Moto Agitato (Myles B. Foster) (pianoforte or American organ)
Chorale (Myles B. Foster) (pianoforte or American organ)

The magazine’s Notices of New Music column, which appeared under slight title variations, included short reviews of organ music that its readers might try out; a young woman ‘At the Organ’, shown below, illustrates a Volume 9 column.

‘Notices of New Music’, The Girl’s Own Paper, Volume 9, page 177.
(Lutterworth Press)

Some of the magazine’s fictional heroines played the organ, beginning with May Goldworthy in Ann Beale’s ‘The Queen o’ the May’, serialized in 27 chapters in Volume 2. At age six, motherless Madeline (May) Goldworthy is sent from London to live with her great-grandparents in the coal-mining district of Wales. Musical from an early age, May later takes organ lessons, sings in a choral competition at the Crystal Palace and uses her musical talent to help support her family. In ‘May Goldworthy’, the four-chapter sequel to the story in Volume 3, the heroine, who has become a professional concert singer in London, returns to her Welsh village as new bride and wife of cousin Meredith and resumes her role among family and friends, which includes singing and playing harmonium for the benefit of others.

Correspondent Iresene’s gracious letter to the editor in Volume 2 likely inquiring about transferring her keyboard skills from harmonium to organ, introduced a misconception that was promulgated in music journals contemporary with TGOP – that organ playing could be injurious to a female player’s health. The editor warned: ‘We think that if you play the harmonium you would soon learn the organ stops; but the playing with the pedals requires a good deal of practice and is trying to the back. To many women it would be very injurious.’ [p. 160] Correspondents Cecil Burn and Mildred Daisy, Rob Roy and Lady Organist were given similar replies. The activity looked strenuous, but the magazine’s answer must not have satisfied its readers, who continued to ask the same question. In Volume 17 on a page of ‘Replies to Often-asked Questions’, the magazine’s answer to ‘Is Organ-playing bad for Girls?’ reflected a change for the better in its thinking on the matter: ‘Organ playing is not injurious to either sex, indeed it is a healthy though fatiguing occupation. It exercises the muscles of the hands and renders them delicate and precise. The movements of the legs in working the pedals are natural ones, being almost identical to those of walking.’ [p. 512]

TGOP worked organ playing into its articles on self-improvement. ‘Just Out’ printed in the magazine’s first year of publication encourages musical girls to practice piano diligently once they have left school, for some day they might ‘be required to play the organ in church, the harmonium at meetings, to accompany friends in part or solo singing, and at all times you will be able to give a great deal of pleasure to those around you who are fond of music’. [Volume 2, p. 775] J.P. Mears’ ‘How to Improve One’s Education’, which appeared about a year later, gives recommendations for practising on piano and on harmonium. [Volume 2]

In 1891, correspondent Annie Findburgh asked the editor of TGOP what was the ‘usual amount of salary for an organist’. She was told that salary, which could range from £20 upwards, was based not on the amount of work done, but rather on the wealth and generosity of a congregation or parish, and in answer to what must have been another question, was told, ‘We never heard of a home being supplied.’ The editor continued: ‘You have formed very grand ideas about the worth of such an appointment.’ [Volume 13, p. 16]

‘Pimpernel’, an organist from Plumstead, won third prize in ‘Our Competition for Professional Girls’ sponsored by TGOP in 1897. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, ‘Pimpernel’ trained as a singer but could not get enough engagements, so she teaches music and plays the organ for church instead. Her essay is found in Volume 18.

‘Pimpernel’ was paid for her services, but many of her sisters on the organ bench were not. In ‘The Amateur Church Organist’, The Hon. Victoria Grosvenor urges readers with musical talent and leisure to qualify themselves as amateur organists for churches in agricultural and suburban parishes unable to pay a professional organist. [Volume 8] Ruth Lamb’s fictional ‘Only a Girl-Wife’, serialized in 25 chapters in Volume 7, had remarked on this type of ministry. After-dinner music at the Crawford’s house contrasts two types of singers. Grace Steyne, the rector’s daughter, is far behind the ‘girl-wife’ hostess Ida in brilliancy and style but has a fine voice that she uses ‘with true musical taste’, not attempting anything beyond her ability. Grace’s music making is a labour of love – she plays the organ at church and trains the village choir, ‘not a very easy task when scarcely any of the members knew their notes so as to read the music’. [p. 366]

Correspondent Isa, who wrote to the editor in 1884, exemplified the selfless service that TGOP encouraged in its readers. He responded: ‘We thank you sincerely for the kind testimony you give to the spiritual usefulness of this paper, and your wishes for still further blessing on our work. May your own be prospered also – your acting as organist for your church as a free offering to God’s service, and your Sunday-school teaching.‘ [Volume 5, p. 240] Correspondent ‘Bride of Triermain’, a harmonium player, likely took on more than she could handle, judging from the editor’s reply to her letter in Volume 3: ‘We advise your consulting the rector on the subject of your inefficiency as his assistant in playing the harmonium. Tell him you are anxious to improve, and need some lessons; and let such a suggestion as that of your receiving them from his daughter emanate from him or her, not from you.’ [p. 286]

Fictional organists in TGOP served as role models for the magazine’s readers who were organists. Ivy Gardiner, in ‘The Organist’s Daughter’ in Volume 14, takes over her father’s organist duties when his health fails. Confident in the role, she also meets with the parents of his piano pupils to encourage continued lessons under her tutelage. In Ada M. Trotter’s ‘Marsh Marigolds’, serialized in 25 chapters in Volume 16, Ritchie Marphell, pictured below, takes over her father’s church organist duties when his vision fails. Only 16 years old, she has trouble maintaining order during rehearsals when cantankerous male choir members challenge her ability to direct them. Ritchie’s rector defends the young organist against the assaults of her enemies. ‘Oh, how good you are!” she tells him after a particularly trying evening. [p. 65] In Sarah Doudney’s ‘The Angel’s Gift’ in Volume 22, Avice Rayne, who accompanies on the organ a trio of young men with the ‘angel’s gift’ of song on the organ, reminds them gently ‘that a divine gift should be used only for divine ends’. [p. 146]

Ada M. Trotter, ‘Marsh Marigolds’, The Girl’s Own Paper, Volume 16, p. 65.
(Lutterworth Press)

In Eglanton Thorne’s ‘Midst Granite Hills: The Story of a Dartmoor Holiday’ in Volume 12, Grace Erith has given up her music governess position, to nurse her brother back to health following his time at university. An admirer offers a cottage in Dartmoor for his convalescence; in return, Grace serves as organist at the village church. Madeline Stuart in ‘Music Hath Charms’, by A. Mabel Culverwell in the same volume, has been taking lessons from the parish organist since age 13. She has to think about her livelihood, for the four Stuart siblings are orphans and must make their own ways in life. Providentially, the parish organist’s untimely arm injury puts Madeline on the organ bench as his substitute for the Christmas season, leading to a position as a music governess. [Volume 12]

Like Ivy, an organist’s daughter, Beatrice Vaughan in M.M. Pollard’s ‘The Organist’s Niece’ in the Snowdrifts extra Christmas number for Volume 6 takes over her uncle’s organist duties when he falls ill. In ‘Acquired Abroad’ by Louisa Emily Dobree in the same extra Christmas number, Ellice Creswell learns that honesty is the best policy. To qualify for a morning governess position to support her blind mother and herself, Ellice is tempted to claim that her French has been acquired abroad, when in fact she has only visited Paris. After seeking her mother’s counsel, Ellice declines the position, then takes solace on the organ bench of her village church. The rector, in need of an organist, hears Ellice playing and, after learning of her troubles, offers her the position.

For Nessie Cartwright and her friends in ‘Noël; or, Earned and Unearned’, a story in the Christmas Roses extra issue for Volume 3 by Grace Stebbing, the lesson is about charity. When a church offers an organist post to Nessie, who needs a paying job, her rich friend cannot understand why Nessie would choose work over her friend’s generosity. The story reinforces middle-class Victorian values: when in financial need, women should earn money by suitable work rather than accept charity, however well intended. In ‘Miss Mignonette’ by E.M. Hordle, a short story in the same extra Christmas issue, the eponymous heroine, who is alone in the world, teaches music and plays organ at Wychley Church.

In ’Miss Pringle’s Pearls’ by Mrs G. Linnaeus Banks in Volume 9, Aunt Phillis Penelope Pringle substitutes as organist at Shepperley Church, while in La Petite’s ‘A Disguised Blessing’ in Maidenhair, the extra summer number for Volume 13, Damaris Calendar, Hazelcopse’s new schoolmistress, takes on the organist duties on Sundays and forms a choir from her musical scholars and older parishioners.

Reginald Horton and Alec Hood both are in love with organists. Reginald, a farmer’s son in ‘A Love Out of Tune’ by J.F. Rowbotham, leaves home to pursue a career as a pianist. After a rocky start, his eventual success is a hollow victory when his father dies suddenly, greatly in debt. After promising to marry Reginald once he had made his name in music, Mildred Vane, the rector’s daughter and an organist, marries someone else. [Volume 17] Alec, in E. Tissington Tatlow’s ‘The Chapel by the Sea’, is more fortunate in love. Hearing ‘the sweet sound of an organ in a church close by’ makes Alec Hood feel sad, for he loves the organist, Laura Tressilian, and is afraid his past will make it impossible to win her. [Volume 28, p. 776] An act of bravery for which a medal is earned, as well as his recently deceased father’s estate, leads to Alec’s marriage to Laura in the Chapel by the Sea.

Most of the magazine’s organists were fictional; TGOP rarely mentioned living women organists. In ‘The Girl’s Outlook; or, What Is There to Talk About?’ by James and Nanette Mason, a self-improvement series in Volume 16, three friends in a remote village, all in their early twenties, meet at least monthly to discuss what they have read, confining their conversation to current topics and events, including musical ones. At one meeting they discuss the life of British organist Elizabeth Stirling (1819–1895) who had died recently. Stirling had made a name for herself as a publicized recitalist particularly of the works of Bach, as a church musician in a City of London church and as a composer of organ music. **

In a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen of Romania reprinted in Volume 26 of the magazine, the Queen is playing a large pipe organ. Only one article featured a living woman organist: Emily Lucas, a clergyman’s daughter who was blind since an early age, earned distinction as a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. In her 1904 autobiographical account ‘A Blind Girl Organist’ in Volume 25, Lucas writes about the challenges and rewards of training a choir and playing for services at Saint Andrew Norwood when visually impaired.

Like the banjo, the organ disappeared from the pages of TGOP after the brief sketch of Lucas. An organist was featured in Volume 31, but the spotlight was on Sir Frederick Bridge, then organist of Westminster Abbey, as author. Women organists still were an item in Britain, but TGOP no longer featured them in fiction, and the magazine had ceased to print the Answers to Correspondents column with replies to the organists among its readers. More information about Britain’s women organists is found in Elizabeth Stirling and the Musical Life of Female Organists in Nineteenth-Century England, especially Chapter 2 ‘Ladies Not Eligible?’.

* Complete citations may be found in Judith Barger, Music in The Girl’s Own Paper: An Annotated Catalogue, 1880 – 1910 (Routledge, 2017).

** See Judith Barger, Elizabeth Stirling and the Musical Life of Female Organists in Nineteenth-Century England (Ashgate, 2007).















Music in The Girl’s Own Paper – 8 Apr 2017

Instruments and Instrumentalists in
The Girl’s Own Paper

Part One: The Banjo

Although not a music journal, The Girl’s Own Paper (TGOP), published in London by the Religious Tract Society beginning on 3 January 1880, clearly considered music a worthy topic, which readers encountered in music scores, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, illustrations and replies to musical correspondents. Music in The Girl’s Own Paper: An Annotated Catalogue, 1880 – 1910 lists the many musical references found in the magazine.

During TGOP’s first decade, ‘how to’ primers on playing musical instruments appeared, from singing a song in Volume 1 to playing the zither in Volume 10. Piano, violin, organ, harmonium, harp, guitar, concertina, mandolin, banjo and xylophone rounded out the list. Of all the primers, only those for singing, pianoforte and violin appeared more than once, suggesting that these were the preferred forms of music making to which TGOP readers should or did aspire. This blog and the next focus on two very different instruments the banjo and the organ to show how TGOP chose to educate and entertain its readers about them.

That readers were interested in the banjo is evident in the magazine’s replies to correspondents’ questions about the instrument. Before the primer on how to play the banjo appeared in 1889, three correspondents had asked about the instrument, though their actual questions were not printed. The magazine’s editor told Maria Orford, who likely was choosing between the banjo and the mandolin, that the latter would be more suitable, because the banjo ‘is scarcely a nice instrument for a girl’. [Volume 6] * W.F.C. received a more neutral reply – she could apply at any music shop for banjo music. [Volume 6] Dinah, whose means were limited, hoped to find a banjo for ten shillings; the editor hoped a music shop might could help her. [Volume 8]

Just because the primer ‘How to Play the Banjo’ by Frank Mott Harrison appeared in Volume 10 does not mean that TGOP gave its stamp of approval to the instrument. To Harrison the instrument was essentially for amusement rather than serious playing, with limited music of a calibre higher than ‘marches, breakdowns, and jigs’. [p. 134] He did not discourage young women from taking up the banjo, however, if their tastes matched the repertoire available for the instrument. The magazine’s editor, however, did. For him, it was a matter of the banjo’s suitability.

When in 1892 correspondent Grateful Reader sought the editor’s advice about choosing an instrument among the banjo, guitar, concertina and organ-accordion, she was told, ‘Neither the banjo nor the guitar is by any means suitable for leading sacred music at a mission meeting. You might as well play the bones like a Christy Minstrel! A concertina or organ-accordion would be very suitable for such a purpose, and more easily learnt.’ [Volume 13] By 1895, however, the editor had rethought the instrument’s suitability and simply advised Helen of Troy, ‘We see no reason why you should not learn the banjo, provided your mother approves.’ [Volume 17]

Over the years, several correspondents – Martha, Madcap, Flora, Edythe, A.A.C., Would-Be Musician, Kerry – asked questions about the banjo and its music. The instrument’s popularity among readers was reflected in the illustration ‘The Banjo Enthusiast’ printed on the Answers to Correspondents page of 20 February 1892, shown below. [Volume 13] It must have taken some moxie for correspondent Wee-One from British Guinea to make her unknown request in 1894. The editor replied: ‘We have not got any kind of banjo, nor can we give you a practical demonstration of what you want to know; so you had better go to a shop for musical instruments and see for yourself. We are sorry we cannot assist you.’ [Volume 15] Nor could the editor assist correspondent Snowdrop a few weekly issues later, whose questions about prices of instruments, including the banjo, and costs for lessons could not be answered in the magazine. He advised her, ‘You should attend to your spelling, which is of more consequence than accomplishments.’ [Volume 15]

‘A Banjo Enthusiast’,The Girl’s Own Paper Vol. 13, p. 336 (Lutterworth Press)

The banjo makes occasional cameo appearances in TGOP fiction. In ‘Nobody’s Holiday; or, An August and September Spent in Good Company’, in the 1889 extra summer issue Rosemary, Hester Grey hears a ‘pandemonium of discords’ in the music making of lodgers, one of whom is learning to play the banjo. [Volume 10, pp. 42–4] Camilla Blake, in ‘A Chameleon’ by Alice Macdonald, finds the piano ‘awfully slow’, drops it and takes up the banjo instead. [Volume 13, p. 247] In ‘Our Café Chantant’ by M.F.T. in the Extra Summer Part of 1901, Rose Amberly agrees to sing and play the banjo for a variety entertainment organized to assist Silas Burns whose cottage burned down. [Volume 22]

In Sarah Doudney’s 1902 ‘Silent Strings’, the banjo player is a young man. When their father dies, the four Wilmer siblings have to split up the family. Brother Drew’s solution to raise their spirits is to sing a tune with a rousing chorus, which he accompanies on his banjo. After this last song, however, Drew leaves the banjo behind. The instrument’s silent strings are a metaphor for the silent strings in many lives that are, as sister Kate muses, ‘full of music that has never been called out of them’. [Volume 23, pp. 30–31]

Like Drew, who left his banjo behind when he left his siblings, after ‘Silent Strings’ appeared, TGOP left the banjo behind. Content about the organ and organists, which was more conspicuous in the magazine, had a longer life and is the subject of the next blog.

* Complete citations may be found in Judith Barger, Music in The Girl’s Own Paper: An Annotated Catalogue, 1880 – 1910 (Routledge, 2017).


USAF Flight Nursing – 18 Feb 2017

USAF Flight Nurse Photo Album

When stationed as a flight nurse with the 9th Aeromedical Evacuation Group at Clark Air Base, Philippines, 1973–75, I put together a hand-printed photo album illustrating a “typical” day of air evac duty. The photos, all but one of which I took myself, were taken on several different missions in 1975 and do not represent an actual flight plan.

In this typed version of the original text, which I printed in block capitals, I have divided the content into three sections across three blogs: PRE-FLIGHT, INFLIGHT, and POST-FLIGHT. Page numbers refer to the original photo album.


Page 18

The mission is over. An urgent patient off-loaded at Yokota Air Base, Japan is met by a helicopter for immediate transfer to Yokosuka Naval Hospital nearby. This procedure is known as a “dust-off.”


The med techs wait on crew transportation at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.


Page 19

Flight mechanic SSgt Nelson is post-flighting the C-9A at Kadena Air Base.


Crew chief Amn Wojienowski completes his post-flight check of the C-9A at Kadena Air Base.


Page 20

Remaining overnight at Yokota Air Base, Japan, members of the crew depart base on an adventure in search of supper. Waiting at the train station off base are SSgt Everingham, Capt Northcutt, Capt Barger, and SSgt Winstead.


Supper this night is a Big Mac, order of fries, and a hot apple pie at McDonald’s in Tachikawa, Japan. That’s Sgt Gimerek with his mouth full, SSgt Winstead, SSgt Everingham, and Capt Northcutt.




USAF Flight Nursing – 28 Jan 2017

USAF Flight Nurse Photo Album

When stationed as a flight nurse with the 9th Aeromedical Evacuation Group at Clark Air Base, Philippines, 1973–75, I put together a hand-printed photo album illustrating a “typical” day of air evac duty. The photos, all but one of which I took myself, were taken on several different missions in 1975 and do not represent an actual flight plan.

In this typed version of the original text, which I printed in block capitals, I have divided the content into three sections across three blogs: PRE-FLIGHT, INFLIGHT, and POST-FLIGHT. Page numbers refer to the original photo album.


Page 11

And we’re off, flying to wherever patient requirements demand. It could be to tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam …


… or a flight taking us over Mount Fuji and into Yokota Air Base, Japan.


Page 12

Kunsan Air Base, Korea might be our next stop …


… or NKP Air Base, Thailand. Wherever we go, there are patients waiting.


Page 13

Sgt Girshovich, second med tech for the mission, deploys the litter ramp at an en-route stop at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Iwakuni, Japan. SSgt Harris acts as spotter to insure the area is clear.


The ramp is fully deployed and ready for use by litter bearers.


Page 14

A litter patient is deplaned onto the waiting ambus at Yokota Air Base, Japan.


A fire truck meets the C-9A at every stop. This one is at MCAS, Iwakuni. We refuel with patients on board, and a fire truck always must be standing by.


Page 15

Lt Holland, MCD, is receiving a patient report from the air evac clerk at one of the en-route stops.


In flight, Lt Holland and Sgt Lloyd could be discussing a patient’s condition or any number of subjects.


Page 16

“IF YOU NEED ANYTHING PLEASE LET US KNOW. WE HOPE THAT YOU HAVE A COMFORTABLE FLIGHT ….” Once the Fasten Seat Belt sign is turned off, patient care continues. We pass out pillows and blankets, magazines, and juice, coffee, or milk. Litter patients are given backrests to elevate their head and shoulders for comfort. Here you see TSgt Higuera, the third tech, and SSgt Spradlin, the flight mechanic.


As part of her check-ride, Lt O’Malley is demonstrating to the flight examiner how to put a casualty life vest onto a litter patient. The “patient” is flight mechanic SSgt Stanke.


Page 17

SSgt Harris, flying as third med tech, is taking an inventory of all supplies and equipment that we carry in the cabin of the C-9A. He’s sitting at the MCD desk. His primary job as third tech is to on-load and off-load patient baggage. Thus SSgt Harris has given the third med tech the nickname “Redcap”.


SSgt Harris again, this time flying in the senior tech position. The senior tech is the chef on the mission and is the person who cooks and serves patient meals.


To be continued.

USAF Flight Nursing – 8 Jan 2017

USAF Flight Nurse Photo Album

When stationed as a flight nurse with the 9th Aeromedical Evacuation Group at Clark Air Base, Philippines, 1973–75, I put together a hand-printed photo album illustrating a “typical” day of air evac duty. The photos, all but one of which I took myself, were taken on several different missions in 1975 and do not represent an actual flight plan.

In this typed version of the original text, which I printed in block capitals, I have divided the content into three sections across three blogs: PRE-FLIGHT, INFLIGHT, and POST-FLIGHT. Page numbers refer to the original photo album.

Page 1




Page 2

The phone in my room rings at 0430. “Good morning, Capt Barger. I’m alerting you for your flight today.”


The Air Evac Control Center at 9th Group is where patients are called in for movement on a routine [scheduled] or alert [unscheduled, but urgent to save life, limb, or eyesight] mission and where air evac missions are planned, coordinated, and monitored. This is where the day begins.

Page 3

The C-9A Nightingale, produced by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation, is the military version of the commercial DC-9. There are 4 C-9A’s at Clark, and these aircraft cover an 85-million square mile area and fly into some 260 airfields in 9 different countries. The C-9A cruises at 500 mph at an altitude of around 30,000 feet. The C-9A is capable of carrying a total of 40 ambulatory patients, 40 litter patients, or a combination of both. Each routine mission carries a medical crew of 2 nurses and 3 medical technicians. An alert  mission carries 1 nurse and 2 med techs. Our routine missions take us to airfields in the Philippines, Taiwan, Okinawa, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam.


Page 4

The basic flight crew on the C-9A includes the pilot, the co-pilot, and the flight mechanic. Here Lt Johnson, pilot, explains something to the co-pilot, Lt Gray.


SSgt Winstead, a flight mechanic, has just given the pilots the go-ahead to start engines. He’s now boarding the C-9A prior to take-off. The flight mechanic is also responsible for refueling the C-9A.


Page 5

Please join me on a grand tour of the cabin of the C-9A. As you walk onto the aircraft through the forward entrance door and face aft [to the rear], to your left is the special care area. This is our intensive care unit, where we put our sickest patients. It also can be used for isolation patients. Special features of the special care area include ultraviolet lights and exhaust fan to kill micro-organisms and control odors, a curtain to close off the area, 3 lights with self-coiling extension cords that clip onto the litter to facilitate patient care, extra oxygen and suction outlets and 60-cycle and 28V DC electrical outlets, and dim-to-bright ceiling lights.


In this picture, Kenneth, 5 weeks old, is in the top incubator; the bottom incubator is being returned to Clark for maintenance. The medical crew director (MCD) of the mission is giving the cruise briefing: “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, OUR NEXT STOP WILL BE FUKUOKA, JAPAN, AND OUR ENROUTE TIME WILL BE ….”

Page 6

Across from the special care area is the medical service area.


This area includes a foot-operated scrub sink with liquid soap dispenser, and a medicine cabinet complete with stock drugs. In the top cabinet are IV tubing and blood recipient sets. In the blue cabinet are IV solutions, IV tray, and distilled water, and in the drawers below are needles and syringes. Cabinets below store medical supplies — OB packs, disposable masks, bedpans, catheterization kit, and irrigation tray.

Aft of the special care area is the medical crew director (MCD) station.


The MCD station consists of a writing desk and lamp, a communications and light-control panel, and temperature, therapeutic oxygen, and vacuum system gauges, a medical records drawer, bookshelf, and storage area for more medical supplies — oxygen masks, emergency drugs, suction catheters, bite-sticks, bulb syringe, and dressing supplies.

Page 7

Aft of the litter ramp door is the central storage compartment.


This area provides storage space for linens, Ambu bag [trademark name of resuscitator bag for artificial respiration], Bird respirator [trademark name for mechanical ventilator], and miscellaneous supplies. The orange bundles you can see underneath are 2 of the 3 20-man life rafts that we carry on all missions.

This picture shows the main cabin area, configured on this trip to accommodate 38 ambulatory patients. All patient seats face aft. That’s Sgt Novicio, the senior med tech, sitting in his crew seat, which is attached to the aft door in the tail section.


Page 8

In the tail section of the cabin is the aft galley.


The forward galley just aft of the cockpit has a medical refrigerator. The aft galley is used to prepare patient meals. Here are found the refrigerator and freezer, the oven that can cook 24 meals in about 30 minutes time, the coffee maker, and sink. The aft galley is the only place on the C-9A where one can get ice-cold or boiling-hot water. Just forward of the door is the senior tech’s control panel where he can make PA announcements, speak with the MCD or pilot via intercom, and turn cabin lights on and off. The MCD gives the pre-departure briefings; the senior tech gives the descent briefings.

Page 9





Page 10

The blue ambus [ambulance-bus] brought the patients to the flight line. The fire truck stands by.


Flight mechanic SSgt Knight is monitoring the start of engines for takeoff from Clark. We’re deploying to escape a typhoon on this day. That’s our squadron building in the background.


To be continued.