Nearly a Century of Women Serving in Combat

Beatrice MacDonald’s American Hospital identification, 1915. Ann Fraser Brewer Papers, Schlesinger Library

Beatrice MacDonald’s American Hospital identification, 1915. Ann Fraser Brewer Papers, Schlesinger Library

Women have been serving under fire just like men for almost a century as members of the Army Medical Department and even longer as volunteers.

There have been thousands of women. A few are featured an article published online by Lewis Barger, AMEDD Office of Medical History:

Beatrice MacDonald was the first of three nurses to receive the Distinguished Service Cross after she volunteered to accompany a surgical team reinforcing a British Casualty Clearing Station on the front lines during World War I.

On the night of August 17, 1917, Germans bombarded the hospital tent where MacDonald was on duty, according to an article on the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Harvard University:

During the course of this raid, MacDonald was gravely wounded and lost an eye. She eventually recovered and insisted upon returning to duty, claiming, “I’ve only started doing my bit.”

Ruby Bradley, (sitting with her arm over the side rail and waving to the camera) during the liberation of the POW camp at Santo Tomas in the Philippines during World War II. Photo courtesy AMEDD.

Ruby Bradley, (sitting with her arm over the side rail and waving to the camera) during the liberation of the POW camp at Santo Tomas in the Philippines during World War II. Photo courtesy AMEDD.

During World War II, Capt. Annie Mealer was serving on Corregidor as a chief nurse.

Instead of evacuating, she stayed to tend to the casualties being brought in as the Japanese took control of the island.

According to Mealer’s online account by Army.mil, “… I reviewed the cases in the tunnel. They all needed help that only a nurse could give them. I sent word to my commanding officer that I would stay with them. Here in this tunnel choked with shell smoke and misery was a group of people that meant more to me than anything else.”

Mealer was captured along with the remainder of the garrison and spent nearly three years as a prisoner of war at Santo Tomas, along with the other women who had been captured in the islands including Maj. Ruby Bradley, would remain in service after the war and find herself in combat again in Korea as chief nurse.

You can read the full AMEDD article here.

You can learn more about women’s service at the U.S. Army Women’s Museum website.

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One Response

  1. We dedicated the 8 march to them, this year, also as this year sign their equparation to men on combat and this is thanks to they have made on the past claudio alpaca

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