Formation of Base Hospital 31

Source: Kaletzki, Charles Hirsch. Official history USA Base Hospital No. 31 of Youngstown, Ohio: And Unit G of Syracuse University. Syracuse, NY, Craftsman Press, 1919, p. 19-25.

Many months before the United States entered the World War, leading Youngstown, Ohio, philanthropists and humanitarians interested themselves in a project to organize and place in the field a medical unit for the use of the Allied governments. As early as January, 1917, plans were developing for an ambulance or first aid unit, of whatever nature would best meet the requirements of the government to which it was to be offered. When, early in February the American Red Cross sent forth its first great call to the men and women of America, for their co-operation in Red Cross war work, all the energy and planning that had been devoted to what had been rather a vague something, were concentrated on the American Red Cross. Soon after this initial call, Dr. George W. Crile of Lakeside Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, suggested to the American Red Cross that base hospitals be organized in the larger American cities, for service overseas.

In accordance with that plan the Youngstown Hospital Association, in conjunction with St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Youngstown, requested of the American Red Cross permission to organize such a hospital. Preliminary correspondence, during February, started the philanthropic agencies of the city of Youngstown on a set program, their planning taking specific form on March 7, when Dr. Warner of the Lakeside Hospital addressed representative citizens at a large banquet. Dr. Warner, who had been associated with Dr. Crile, spoke of the pressing need of medical formations and outlined the course necessary to bring to Youngstown the glory to be derived from being among the first in the field.

Official sanction of the proposed formation of a base hospital was received from the office of Col. Jefferson R. Keene [Kean], Director General, American Red Cross, on March 25. Dr. Colin R. Clark was designated as director, with instructions to organize a staff of medical officers, nurses and enlisted men, all of whom were to be enrolled preparatory to official military enlistment. On the following day official notification of acceptance of the Red Cross program was sent forward and the work of creating an American Red Cross Base Hospital began, with the following finance committee in charge of plans for the $50,000 subscription fund required by the Red Cross program:

J. A. Campbell, chairman; H. H. Stambauch, H. L. Round, Philip Schaff, Clarence Strouss, C. H. Kennedy, Wells L. Griswold, A. E. Adams, Henry Garlick, M. I. Arms, Dr. W. H. Buechner, J. Fernley Bonnell, Richard Garlick and Hugh Grant.

George L. Fordyce and Fred S. Bunn, superintendent of the Youngstown City Hospital, immediately started the purchase of equipment suggested by the government authorities, taking advantage of every opportunity to get for the Youngstown Base Hospital equipment which was sure to be scarce when the country at large took up the organization of similar institutions. The specifications were for a 500-bed hospital and all purchases were on a liberal allowance for that capacity.

Only a few days were required for the subscription of more than the prescribed $50,000, the finance committee making a thorough canvass of the entire city, more than 300 persons and firms contributing. A large share of the total was realized in a single evening when many of the wealthiest men of the city gathered informally and agreed upon their respective share of the total. A complete list of subscribers follows:

M. I. Arms, Mrs. G. D. Wick, Estate Myron C. Wick, W. J. Hitchcock, Frank Hitchcock, George L. Fordyce Co., The Ohio Leather Co., W. H. Foster, R. D. Gibson, John C. Wick, J. Warner, Emily W. Bonnell, Caroline Bonnell, J. F. Bonnell, W. J. Sampson, Mason Wick, L. L. Liebman, J. D. Rees, Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Bonnell, W. M. Andrews, Horace Williamson, John Tod, Ohio Iron and Steel Co., Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co., Youngstown Iron and Steel Co., Robert Bentley, J. A. Campbell, Brier Hill Steel Co., C. H. Booth, John and Grace Harrington, E. L. Ford, H. M. Garlick, Trussed Concrete Steel Co., Carbon Limestone Co., A. M. Clark, Struthers Furnace Co., H. H. Stambaugh, John Stambaugh, The W. B. Pollock Co., Porter Pollock, General Fireproofing Co., C. D. Hine, George E. Day, George Stambaugh, G. F. Arrel, Mrs. G. F. Arrel, East Ohio Gas Co., Edmond L. Brown, W. J. Roberts, R. E. Cornelius, J. R. Rowland, George E. Dudley, L. T. Peterson, W. A. Beecher, T. L. Robinson, Robert McCurdy Co., W. B. McKelvey, Bessemer Limestone Co., David Tod Arrel, H. M. Hurd, W. B. Topping, R. Jones, Jr., G. F. Allerdyce, F. B. Medbury, Thomas McDonald, Phillip Schaff, W. B. Hall, Realty Trust Co., Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Arms.

Julius Kahn, Youngstown Ice Co., A. P. Smith, Paul Jones, Vindicator, W. F. Maag, Sr., Lloyd Booth, J. W. Ford, Renner Brewery, Fred Tod, R. P. Stevens, Strouss Hirschberg Co., Mahoning Buick Co., Ritter and Meyer, Bert H. Printz, Frankel Bros. Co., Hartzell Bros. Co., Block Gas Mantle Co., R. C. Steese, Banner Electric Co., A. E. Reinman, J. G. Butler, Jr., G. M. McKelvey Co., L. B. McKelvey, Rose Johnson Co., Heller Bros., Henry Butler, C. H. Kennedy, Leah M. McKelvey, H. W. Heedy, E. L. McKelvey, Mr. and Mrs. J. O. Pew, C. Thornton, G. F. Danielson, David Tod, Crystal Ice & Storage Co.

C. A. Cochran, Falcon Bronze Co., Mason Evans, Union Wholesale Lumber Co., American Sintering Co., Republic Iron & Steel Co., T. J. Bray, G. E. Rose, H. L. Round, The Telegram Co., S. G. McClure, J. W. Dietrick, Youngstown Securities Co., J. H. McEwen, Estate Thomas H. Wells, C. S. Robinson, W. E. Manning, W. E. Watson, A. H. Dillon, W. A. Thomas, E. E. Leedy, C. H. Krauter, United Eng. & Foundry Co. W. C. Reilly, H. W. Grant, Charles Deibel, J. P. Colleran, The Gillen-McVean Co., The John Gallagher Co., Ernest Salow, B. M. McManus Co., The Lytle-Wentz Co., Stambaugh-Thompson Co., P. J. Thompson, R. R. Sharmon, M. E. Dennison, R. P. Hartshorn, C. N. Crandall, Arabelle Crandall.

A. E. Adams, C. J. Wick, Akron Soap Co., D. A. Allen, M. I. Arms 2nd, J. C. Barrett, The Barrett Co., W. R. Beard, J. M. Bennington, J. J. Beck, C. J. Bloom, G. A. Blaine, J. H. Bloom, Annie Arms Bonnell, H. J. Braman, Ernich Brown, Ella Brown, Mrs. C. E. Felton, R. D. Brown, H. L. Burnham, W. C. Carman, O. U. Cassaday, Bruce R. Campbell, The Central Store Co., N. H. Chaney, Stewart C. Coey, J. J. Conner, T. E. Connell, Dr. Ida Clarke, M. S. Curtis, M. E. Coombs, C. W. Deibel, E. J. Deibel, David Davis, V. W. DeLaney, T. P. Draper, L. W. Edwards, Helen F. Elsaesser, C. A. Ensign, J. C. Ewing, R. W. Ewalt, C. H. Elliott, W. F. Fair, N. B. Folsom, R. W. Forcier, D. J. Geary, W. T. Gibson, T. C. Gilchrist, P. J. Gordon, A. C. Graham, Guthman & Cantwell, J. P. Hazlett, F. A. Hartenstein, G. H. Heedy, W. M. Henderson, J. N. Higley, W. C. Holzworth, Eleanor Heedy, W. T. James, T. A. Jacobs, Jeckell Bros.

F. D. Jones, J. B. Kennedy, T. H. Kane, W. L. Kauffman, Gustave Kahn, F. B. King, Charles Koonce, Jr., W. T. Lawthers, F. T. Lawrence, Lief Lee, W. R. Leonard, C. J. Little, M. R. Lightbody, S. W. Luce, Lyons Laeri Co., Mahoning Foundry Co., J. S. Mitchell, H. R. Moore, W. J. Morris, W. E. Mueb, E. G. Murray, L. A. Manchester, C. W. M. McClure, J. K. McAleer, E. T. McCleary, W. C. McKain, J. J. McNally, J. N. Nutt, John Oliver, Ozersky Bros. Baking Co., Harry Parrock, Thomas Parrock, Fayette Powers, Powers & Schroder, Miss Timp Pollock, Pollock Dougherty Co., J. B. Roberts, G. A. Reinhart, C. J. Reese, J. M. Shaw; L. B. Scheible & Son, C. F. Semple, W. A. Smith, D. B. Stephens, Alexander Stephens, E. A. Stanley, Thomas Strain, G. M. Streeter, H. W. Stevens, C. E. Simonton, C. E. Shriver, E. H. Turner, Mrs. Henry Tod, W. J . Thompson, J. W. Truedley, L. H. Underwood, J. Van Baalen, W. W. Wallace, C. F. Walker, J. W. Wagstaff, C. V. Walter, L. T. Wick, Wilkins Leonard Co., W. C. Whitten, D. E. E. Woodside.

J. R. Wooley, Yahrling Rayner Co., Youngstown Arc Engraving Co., Youngstown Foundry & Machine Co., C. E. Evans, Fisher Gilder Cartage Co., J. H. Good, Guttridge & Rand, Hearn Fithian Co., Kennedy Boyle Co., H. W. Kerr, M. F. Menster, F. H. Nullmeyer, J. L. Roemer, Standard Slag Co., J. W. Woltz, W. G. Wilson, J. H. Edwards, Paul Healey, J. R. Thomas' Sons, Chelekis Bros., Beil & Evans Co., Carnegie Steel Co., W. C. Gans, C. B. Folsom, J. H. Grose, A. E. Jupp, Jos. Joseph & Bros. Co., H. C. Knowles, W. N. Neckerman, J. E. Perry, J. E. Rudge, C. S. Short, G. S. Wilkerson, W. M. Rowney, Charles Cushwa, M. H. Eckert, Harry Levinson, William Wilson, W. R. Stewart, Ohio Automatic Sprinkler Co. Subsequent activities, including organization, training, and operation, follow in chronological order.

April 9: Miss Frances Kehoe, assistant supervisor of nurses, Youngstown Hospital, was selected as Chief Nurse with instructions to proceed with the enlistment of the Nurse Corps to the required number.

April 14: The following physicians and surgeons, having stated their preference for overseas service, made formal application for commission in the Officers' Reserve Corps, through the American Red Cross:

Majors: Dr. Colin R. Clark, as director and chief of medical service; Dr. James A. Sherbondy, as assistant director and chief of surgical service; Dr. Burt W. Wilson, as assistant medical director.

Captains: Dr. Charles C. Wolforth, director and chief of laboratories; Dr. Sidney M. McCurdy, registrar; Dr. John Heberding, roentgenologist; Dr. Maurice P. Jones, assistant surgical service; Dr. John L. Washburn, ophthalmologist; Dr. Frederick J. Bierkamp, rhinologist and laryngologist; Dr. Ralph R. Morrall, orthopedist; Dr. A. E. Brant, urologist and staff surgeon.

Lieutenants: Dr. John V. Buchanan, Dr. Edward H. Jones; Dr. Dean A. Nesbitt, Dr. Clarence D. Barrett, Dr. Ray W. Fenton, Dr. William H. Bunn, Dr. William Kerr Allsop, Dr. Colin McF. Reed, Dr. Everett R. Thomas, Dr. Charles H. Moses and Dr. Parker G. Borden. Dr. Robert W. Morgan and Dr. Walter H. McCreary made application for commission in Dental Corps.

May 2: Rev. William Carson Press, M. A., for ten years pastor of the Evergreen Presbyterian Church, Youngstown, was reported as American Red Cross Volunteer Chaplain.

May 13: Under instructions from American Red Cross Headquarters, Washington, D. C., applicants for commission went to Cleveland, Ohio, for physical examination by Major Bunts, U.S.A. Dr. John Heberding and Dr. Edward H. Jones failed to appear for examination. Their places were filled by Dr. Orrin D. Hudnutt as roentgenologist and Dr. David B. Phillips. Dr. R. W. Morgan was rejected because of physical disability, on account of eyesight, and Dr. Forrest W. Ward was substituted as applicant for commission in Dental Reserve Corps.

May 20: The following men, having been previously enrolled, were enlisted as members of the Medical Enlisted Reserve Corps, with instructions to await call to active service:

Alban A. Ahn, Frederick B. Artz, Harry W. Baird, Joseph D. Baker, Emil A. Barnes, John J. Barth, Abraham D. Beam, Claude E. Beaumont, Hazen L. Becker, Daniel H. Bodin, John Bovill, Jr., Frank J. Burt, Clarence W. Carlson, Joseph Chambers, Walter A. Church, Harold M. Cornelius, Benjamin H. Cover, Hugh C. Cover, Paul G. Cover, Austin C. Cullinan, James W. Davis, Thomas B. Davis, Paul A. DeGarmo, Cyril P. Deibel, Alphonso A. DeWaldo, Clair V. Dobson, Harold B. Ellis, George F. Eppley, Abdon Farran, Floyd A. Faulds, Roy D. Fenton, Ralph W. Fieger, Milton L. Flack, Harry A. Ford, Allan R. Forsyth, Rex L. Fortney, Merrill R. Fox, Albert R. Fraser, John M. Fraser, Harold Funkhouser, Harry S. Gaskeen, George P. Gee, Arthur E. Genuske, Lester O. Gibson, Lloyd H. Gleason, Frederick L. Gorman, William M. Gribble, Dan F. Griffin.

Edson L. Hart, Edward C. Hasenplug, Joseph L. Heffernan, Carl Helander, John A. Hickman, Samuel J. Holt, Walter A. Holtzman, Richard S. Hunter, Paul I. Hynes, David J. Irwin, Arthur John, Raymond Johnston, Frank H. Judson, Jr., Raymond]. Kane, Ralph L. Kelly, William M. Kohlmorgan, George N. Latimer, Matthew C. Leskawa, Fred C. Lewis, Eugene M. Liddle, William H. Ludt, Jr., Roy O. Lytle, Paul V. Manning, William T. Manning, William P. McBride, John M. McCaughey, Robert E. McCluskey, Robert McCreery, Charles M. McGlynn, Ben McKeever; Frank H. McKelvey, Randall M. McNabb, Harry R. McPhee, Frank H. McWhirter, Walter L. Meuser, Paul Meyer, Lloyd Miller, George A. Millman, Archie D. Minamyer, Lloyd A. Mines, Frank E. Moore, Harry J. Moreman, Charles D. Morgan, Jeremiah F. Morris, Claude H. Morrow, Alvin Newman, Philip E. Oldaker, Lee J. Pelen, Frank M. Pickens, Wallace H. Pifer, Merton V. Porter, Walter S. Prichard, Allen E. Pritchard, John E. Ramsey, Paul Raymond, Thomas H. Rees, Finley F. Reid, Waldo E. Ripple, Joseph W. Robb, William J. Rupp, Winfield L. Sample, Donald L. Shaw, Raymond T. Schottenberg, Martin J. Slattery, Alvin L. Smith, James P. Snead, Gust N. Spong, William E. Stewart, Arthur M. Stone, Arthur C. Thomas, Ray L. Thomas, John M. Thornton, Carl S. Turner, Lawrence N. Turner, Paul H. Velker, Charles M. Wall, Ralph K. Wallace, Robert A. Walton, Charles B. Wakefield, William M. Watt. Sheridan L. Weaver, Cecil W. Whitworth, John E. Wirt, Auren D. Williams.

May 30: Capt. Sidney McCurdy was ordered to Fort Benjamin Harrison for training at Medical Reserve Officers' Training Camp.

June 26: The following enlisted men were sworn in as privates M.E.R.C. [Medical Enlisted Reserve Corps]: Clifford Ainge, Alfred T. Button, Lamont H. Button, Frederick H. Button, Robert E. Jones, Frances M. Kirwin, Bertram Lustig, George L. More, Walter A. Onorato, Joseph E. Seifert, Harrison T. Sexton, Reginald V. Taylor, Carl Van Orman, George H. Watson and Eldon D. Williams. Arthur M. Devey had been sworn in earlier.

July 24: Major Colin R. Clark was ordered to Fort Benjamin Harrison for training in Medical Reserve Corps.

August 6: Capt. E. C. Kaefer, Q. M. C., U. S. R., unit quartermaster, arrived to assume charge of packing and shipping all property.

August 8: Youngstown Hospital made its first public appearance in parade formation, the occasion being the farewell gathering to Companies A and B of the 10th Ohio Regiment. The parade proceeded through Front, Federal, Wick and Indiana streets to Wick Park. Nurses, in charge of Miss Frances Kehoe, Chief Nurse, were assembled for the first time. The Unit band made its premiere.

August 14: Capt. A. E. Brant was ordered to Rockefeller Institute, New York City, for laboratory training.

August 15: Lt. Parker G. Borden, ordered to Fort Benjamin, began military training.

August 25: Lt. David B. Phillips was ordered to Fort Benjamin Harrison and Lt. Orrin D. Hudnutt was ordered to Cornell University X-Ray school, for training.

August 28: Harry M. Raub and Harry Stratigas were enlisted as privates M.E.R.C. Raymond Farber was reported as private M.E.R.C.

August 29: Major Colin R. Clark returned from course of training for medical officers at Fort Benjamin Harrison.

The entire unit was assembled to attend the unit picnic at “Idora Park,” Youngstown, held under the auspices of the enlisted men to raise funds to buy band instruments. Thousands of persons gathered during the day and evening, a considerable fund being realized.

August 30: Capt. Adam E. Schlanser, Medical Corps, U.S.A., arrived to take command of U. S. Army Base Hospital No. 31, that being the new official Army designation. Captain Schlanser had been stationed at Columbus Barracks a number of years.

Sept. 4: Capt. Adam E. Schlanser received notification of promotion to the rank of Major, M. C., U.S.A.

Sept. 6: All officers notified to report for active duty to Major A. E. Schlanser at 9 o'clock, A. M., at City Hospital, were given instructions as to baggage and personal necessities for overseas service. All officers were ordered to report at the same hour each succeeding morning. Capt. Sidney McCurdy and Lts. Borden and Phillips returned from an abbreviated course at Officers' Training Camp, Fort Benjamin Harrison.

Sept. 7: The entire personnel mobilized at medical room of Mahoning Medical Society, City Library, for roll call. Capt. A. E. Brant returned from New York City, where he had been in training at Rockefeller Institute. Capt. Charles C. Wolferth joined the organization from Philadelphia, Pa. Lt. Orrin D. Hudnutt joined. John M. Cavanaugh, Samuel B. McClellan and Walter Winfield were enlisted as privates, M.E.R.C.

Sept. 8: U. S. Army Base Hospital No. 31 entrained for Allentown, Pa., to undergo training preliminary to service overseas. The departure from Youngstown was marked by patriotic displays of utmost enthusiasm and splendor, the entire city turning out to do honor to the one organization that was purely its own. The personnel had gathered in the morning for instructions as to baggage and to hear the Articles of War read by Capt. Sidney McCurdy. They met again at four o'clock P. M. to receive the gifts of the American Red Cross and the W.C.T.U. Headed by the Regimental Band of the 10th Ohio Infantry the personnel marched from the City Library to the Erie Railroad station. Three companies of infantry formed the guard of honor through the streets crowded with cheering thousands.

The departure from Youngstown marked the end of the first stage in the history of Base Hospital No. 31. Organized originally as a Red Cross institution, it soon became a regular Army Base Hospital, under the direct supervision of army authorities. The American Red Cross having directed its organization, financing and equipment had completed its work and turned over to the War Department, as one of the first of its fifty base hospitals ready for overseas duty, the Youngstown unit.

Although the work of creating a base hospital was done under the direct supervision of headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., too much credit cannot be given the local chapter, viz., The Mahoning chapter. By its indorsement of the original plans and its close co-operation in raising funds, Mahoning Chapter rendered a great service. But more than the mere giving of dollars; more than simple speechmaking; beyond the valuable work of soliciting subscriptions-all of this was important and well done-was the tremendous good done by the hundreds of women of Mahoning Chapter, who, by the labor of their hands produced thousands of pieces, each and every one of which was destined to make for the comfort of some soldier lying ill or wounded in Base Hospital No. 31 in France.

The chapter furnished 94,499 surgical dressings, 27,969 pieces of hospital linen, including sheets, pillow cases, pajamas, operating and hospital gowns and personal linens-all to be shipped overseas for Base Hospital No. 31.

Arriving in Contrexeville

Most personnel and equipment for Base Hospital 31 (except Unit G -- see below) arrived in Contrexeville on January 1, 1918, six days after the group for Base Hospital 32 arrived. The following text is from the unit history:

Jan. 31: During the month which elapsed since Base Hospital No. 31 had arrived in Contrexeville a great deal of necessary work was accomplished. The detachment was divided into two general parts, one of which performed yeoman duty in the unloading of the more than forty freight cars that brought Red Cross and government equipment. During the earlier days they helped unload similar equipment for Base Hospital No. 32. The other half of the detachment, together with the nurses, spent many long hours cleaning the hotel buildings, some of which apparently had not received particularly careful attention for some time. Floors had to be scrubbed, walls washed down, windows cleaned, partitions built and almost every other sort of work done to make the buildings ready for occupancy. In the first month of the period of preparation a great many beds were placed, most of the larger equipment partially installed and the work as a whole greatly advanced.

[Kaletzki, p. 38]

Feb. 28: The end of the month found Contrexeville greatly changed in appearance. Its streets had been cleaned of unsanitary accumulations. The hotel buildings assumed a new appearance, externally, because the grounds immediately surrounding the structures had been thoroughly policed; internally, because industrious nurses and enlisted men had scrubbed and scoured for days and days, until floors looked as near as possible like the milky white floors insisted upon in American hospitals. Truck loads of dirt and refuse had been carted out of the buildings and dilapidated articles that had been left around were removed. Nurses who had been assigned to the various buildings had busied themselves with the cleaning of windows and woodwork, while the corps men scrubbed floors and did the various other bits of manual labor. Beds had been placed in some of the buildings and much of the more elaborate apparatus had been permanently placed. The X-Ray room, occupying space on the main floor of the Hotel Etablissement, facing the Casino was practically equipped, except for some articles not yet arrived from the United States and not as yet replaced.

[Kaletzki, p. 39]

Formation of Unit G

It was not long after the unit arrived before it became evident that the personnel was not large enough to handle a hospital of 1,200 beds. The necessity of an organization for every building larger than had been anticipated, together with the presence of all manner of other detail soon created a demand for more men and nurses. The officer staff, too, needed enlarging. This need was met with the addition of Hospital Unit “G,” which brought eleven of the most prominent men in the medical profession in Syracuse, together with twenty-one nurses of much experience and fifty enlisted men, most of whom were college graduates or students. Immediately upon their arrival this detachment entered into the spirit of the work and took their part in the house cleaning which had not yet been accomplished.

[Kaletzki, p. 45

Hospital Unit “G” was organized by members of the faculty of the College of Medicine, Syracuse University, in accordance with plans of the American Red Cross, in June, 1917, with Dr. Edward S. Van Duyn in charge. The officer personnel was determined soon, heads of various departments at the University College of Medicine making application for commissions in the Medical Reserve Corps. The following members of the faculty were commissioned and ordered to await further instructions: Major Edward S. Van Duyn, professor of clinical surgery; Capt. William D. Alsever, professor of clinical medicine; Capt. Clarence E. Coon, professor of orthopedics; Capt. George S. Britten, former assistant professor of oral surgery and otologist to the University Hospital; Capt. Henry A. MacGruer, professor of dermatology and syphilology; 1st Lt. Henry Burton Doust, professor of therapeutics; 1st Lt. Earl V. Sweet, assistant professor of clinical medicine; 1st Lt. Murray A. Cain and 1st Lt. Clyde 0. Barney, instructors in clinical surgery; 1st Lt. Walden E. Muns, city bacteriologist and instructor in bacteriology; 1st Lt. A. D. Meyers, assistant at University Hospital. Capt. J. Herbert Irish, of Surgical Staff of Homeopathic Hospital, completed the quota.

The nurses were recruited from the staff of the University Hospital, other Syracuse institutions and prominent hospitals in other cities, giving Unit “G” a nurse corps of experienced institutional workers, together with several who had had large private practice. The enlisted personnel was selected from more than 250 applicants for enlistment, 26 of the SO being graduates or students at Syracuse University. Several others of the personnel were graduates of other universities, including a number of medical students and pre-medics.

While awaiting orders for mobilization of the entire unit, Captain Coon was ordered to report at Camp Shelby, Miss., for duty with the orthopedic department and Capt. Britten was ordered to report at the Army school for Brain surgery in New York City.

The following nurses were ordered to duty at Camp Wheeler, Savannah, Ga.: Louisa Cramp, Helen I. White, Cassie A. White, Katherine Corcoran and L. Grace Cotton. Five others, Frances King, Lillian A. Johnson, Bertha Boyd, Margaret MacDill and Mary P. Wight, were sent to Camp Greene, Charleston, S.C., for service until Unit “G” was mobilized. In both camps there had been measles and pneumonia epidemics of alarming proportions. Several of the personnel had been inducted into service under the draft law pending actual enlistment of the unit. They were transferred to Unit “G,” prior to sailing.

Major Van Duyn received orders to proceed with the mobilization of Unit “G,” under date of December 10, 1917, the mobilization being effected on December 14. Following six days of training in the New York State Armory, Syracuse, under the direction of Capt. Frederick Sembach, N. Y. G., and Capt. H. A. MacGruer the unit left for Fort MacPherson, Atlanta, Ga., on the night of December 19, arriving on December 22. During the period of training many officers and enlisted men were on duty at General Hospital No. 6. An extensive course of lectures was conducted in accordance with the training program followed by similar units attached to General Hospital No. 6 for training. Capt. ]. H. Irish, because of illness, was transferred from Hospital Unit “G” to General Hospital No. 6, as was Pvt. Leo Bennett, who was subsequently honorably discharged.

Unit “G” left Fort MacPherson on February 15, proceeding under orders to Camp Merritt, New Jersey, there to prepare for embarkation, which was accomplished on February 25 on the S. S. Olympic (No. 527). New York harbor was left the following day, February 26, 1918, overseas service dating from that date. Pvt. Thomas Posthill did not accompany the unit from Camp Merritt, being confined to Base Hospital No. 1, New York. Being one of the three medical formations on board ship Unit “G” shared the work of operating the ship hospital and infirmary. Major E. S. Van Duyn was a member of the Board of Controlling Surgeons, and Lt. W. E. Muns was Sanitary Inspector. Lt. Cain and Lt. Sweet were on duty in the hospital wards, and Lt. Barney was attached to the ship infirmary. Nurses and corps men were on duty in the wards.

Arriving at Liverpool on March 6, Unit “G” left for Southampton, England, leaving behind as a patient at the American Hospital in Liverpool, Pvt. Walter]. Welch. After three days at rest camp in Southampton, the officers and enlisted men proceeded to Havre where they were joined by the nurses who had preceded them. After one day at Havre orders were received to proceed to Contrexeville, Vosges, there to report to the Commanding Officer, for duty.

Leaving Havre before daybreak the special train which carried three other "letter units" started what promised to be a slow but interesting journey through France, the destination at that time being rather uncertain. The officers travelled in second class compartments and the men rode-seven to a compartment, in what seemed the most ancient third class coaches on the railroads of France. The suburbs of Paris were reached the first night-and the event was celebrated by one of the biggest air raids perpetrated by the enemy, a flotilla of Boche planes bombing the city and the railroad yard in which the train which carried Unit “G” waited for clearance. Three bombs struck within 200 yards of the train, one of them shaking the string of cars and breaking the windows in the coaches occupied by the officers. The flashing sparks flying through the sky had attracted many of the men to the car tops. When it became apparent that the “shooting stars” were coming just a bit too close no time was lost in seeking shelter, many of the inquisitive men not waiting to climb down.

[Kaletzki, pp. 42-44]

Unit G Arrives

March 12: The arrival of a detachment of nurses belonging to Hospital Unit "G" told of the coming of a complete detachment of officers and men on the following day. The nurses were quartered at the Hotel Souveraine.

Source: [Kaletzki, p. 41]

Pleasant weather marked the journey through the valley of the Marne. The spectacle of crude wooden crosses, one of which bore an American flag, all along the roadbed seemed a spiritual initiation for the work to come. Along the route more or less had been learned about Contrexeville and Base Hospital No. 31, and the person who first sighted the Hotel Cosmopolitain in the distance spread the cry of “Home, boys, Home.”

Temporary quarters were arranged on arrival in the Hotel Harmand, the entire annex being turned over to the Unit “G” personnel. The officers were assigned to rooms on the second floor of the Hotel Martin-Aine. The newcomers were given an ovation as they filed into the mess hall at the rear of the Continental, their faces bearing colorful evidence of their fifty-five hour journey.

[Kaletzki, p. 44]