Fortunately for us, the files contain a number of reminiscences and poems by nurses from Base Hospital 46. Some of these are included in Otis Wight et al, On Active Service with Base Hospital 46 but there are a good number that were not part of that volume, enabling us to expand our understanding of the experiences of the women of Base Hospital 46 and to preserve their voices.
|Anne E. Schneider, R.N. |
Grace Phelps Papers, Box 3, Binder 5, Base Hospital 46 Staff Files, Historical Collections & Archives, Oregon Health & Science University. Courtesy Historical Collections & Archives, OHSU.
Portland newspapers let us know that Schneider worked with volunteer medical teams that provided needed surgeries in the community.
|"29 Operations Performed," Oregonian, May 15, 1917, 4.|
|"Orphans Are Treated," Oregonian, September 5, 1917, 13.|
The first part of her reminiscence tells us about the shock of receiving the new assignment even before her baggage had arrived, the task of cobbling supplies together, and then riding "up on the back of a five passenger car, one of twelve machines" in a convoy traveling to a field hospital close to the front.
It was also her first direct experience with the chaos of war. She contrasted the "tranquil scenes" in the villages she passed "where the fields were yellow and golden with the ripening grain" with the confusion of an air raid near the city of Joinville. "Out of their homes came the frightened people running hither and thither, children crying and screaming as they clung to their elders, seeking a place of shelter from these vultures of the sky, bent on their errands of misery and destruction."
Schneider provided a vivid image of the crowded and hectic route toward the battlefields: "The roads were filled with the tremendous business of war, an endless chain of motor trucks, automobiles, motorcycles with side cars and without, all with a single purpose, bent on fulfilling their bit." They regrouped after a pile-up left only six of their cars "fit for service," and drove around in the dark, lost in unfamiliar territory. "It seemed as if we were always going straight ahead and yet sometimes found ourselves running about the town in circles," she wrote, and they eventually found their way back to the road.