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Monday, August 3, 2015

Life After Base Hospital 46 Service in the First World War: Stasia Walsh Part III

Stasia Walsh, R.N. who served on the nursing staff of Oregon's Base Hospital 46 in France during the First World War, returned to Umatilla to work with the Red Cross and identified as a veteran with the American Legion and Women's Overseas Service League. In February 1920 she received an assignment to go to Eastern Europe for service with the Red Cross in the aftermath of war, revolution, and refugee crises.

"Miss Walsh in Serbia," Pendleton East Oregonian, May 1, 1920, 3.
During the war, as we've seen, newspapers reprinted letters home from local women and men in service. And newspaper editors continued the practice as local residents continued overseas service. On May 1, 1920, the Pendleton East Oregonian reprinted a letter from Stasia Walsh that her "Pendleton friends" shared with the paper. Walsh reported that she was in Belgrade "placed in charge of a clinic for Serbian children and examines from 55 yo 80 children each day." The clinic brought a foreign aid worker like Walsh together with a young Serbian woman with little English and a Serbian who spoke only Serbian and a "Bulgarian prisoner of war" to administer the clinic for the children. Belgrade was a "queer mixture of East and West."

"Pendleton Nurse in Poland Finds Much Poverty and Care," Pendleton East Oregonian, December 8, 1920, 1.
The Pendleton paper printed parts of another letter from Walsh, this one to Mrs. M. J Cronin, in December 1920. Walsh wrote that after she left Serbia she went to her native Ireland for two weeks. The country was in the midst of a war for independence with fierce fighting. Without giving specifics she felt that "it is a very sad country now. I hope that things will be brighter for them later on."

Walsh was now in Red Cross service in Poland, again an independent country after World War I but where there was still conflict on its borders. Walsh gave information about where to send mail and information about her travels. And she gave a brief but informative description of her living quarters in the city of Kracow. "There is an immense castle just across the street from us. We are living in an old monastery. It is a find bring building but cold as a barn and no coal to heat it. We have one room with a storve and we sit there and write, and so forth, during the day."

Walsh's letter also reported on local and US women whom she had see and met in her travels to Paris, Belgrade, and Kracow. Several women were from California "and the western states" and "a number of them have been to the Pendleton Round-Up." Pendleton was becoming famous for its early fall Round-Up, ten years old in 1920. It became one common touchstone for Americans abroad who had visited Pendleton's attraction and a point of pride for Pendletonians abroad and at home.

Walsh also told her friend that she had seen Eglantine Moussu "in Paris several times." Moussu was a Pendleton woman who had served in the Signal Corps during the war. Walsh's letter suggests the importance of networking among those Oregonians and Pendletonians serving abroad.
"Miss Eglantine Moussu," Pendleton East Oregonian, August 30, 1918, 1.