Sunday, December 20, 2015

Part IX: Mudder's World War I diary

December 26 
Happier today than I have been for some time, got a letter from Peany and such a sweet one too, also one from E with a handkerchief in it. Goldie is sick in bed Ward #2, hope she will be well by the 2nd.

December 27 

Met a man from Evac #3, invited me to a dance at #79. Got two more letters from P, he is dear all right, to bed early.

December 28 

Mail today, just a Xmas card. Went to a dance, had a fairly good time.

December 29 

Some of our officers are going back to the States, leave tomorrow, they sure are lucky. Rained all day for a change.

December 30

Another disappointment today. Leah can’t go on leave.

December 31 

Went to the New Year’s Eve dance, had a real good time. Orders came that 42 would be replaced; suppose that means we will all go home. I wonder if I am going to get to go on my leave.

January 1, 1919 

Got my orders to go on leave, thank goodness I am safe then. Off for Toul on the train. Only 2 hours late, got in Toul, stayed all night at the Red Cross, made some fudge to take along.

January 2 

Trains supposed to leave for Paris at 800am but left 1030. Met some officers that came over on the ship with us. Took Miss Saxelby and I to dinner. We arrived at Paris at 600pm. Had the dickens of a time to get a taxi, finally did, went to the Continental and thought rooms had been engaged but they had not, but while standing there, in walked Peany, bless his heart, he made us take his room, he met a colonel he knew so he went in with him. We had a wonderful dinner.

January 3 

Had breakfast in bed, then we started out, we went to different shops, had lunch at the Marlborough tearoom. Met P at 2pm, but in the meantime, met Miss Hines, chatted a while with her. Got on the train for Nice at 6pm, started about 8. I had a seat but poor P only had a small seat until 5am, such a dirty tiresome trip.

January 4 

Landed in Nice at 6pm, cleaned and had dinner, who should I meet, the first thing but LHM Went to bed early that night and such a storm.

January 5 

Took a walk, went to the station to make reservations to leave next Saturday, we finally did. The Mediterranean was quite rough this day; the storm had done a lot of damage.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 

Went to dances, took long walks, did some shopping. Found the best place to eat breakfast, could get the best waffles. Walked up a very steep hill, could see the Alps which were with snow. The last of the week the Mediterranean was very calm and just as warm as could be. Sure hated to come back to Bazoilles. Saturday Left for Paris, arrived Sunday 10am, went to the Continental. Sure was sick, had dinner, went to bed and got up for supper and then went to bed, got up at 630am.


Train left for Chaumont, arrived 315, got in Neuf. At 715, waited there 2 hours for a train to B, dead tired, such a trip. P stayed in Neuf.


Had the whole day off, went to Neuf, met P, we had lunch, then he came out to the base with me, had tea, he left 5pm. All alone again and such news when I came back. We are attached to Evac 21, all the men of 42 are going home, can you beat it. I am homesick, I want to go home. Got 72 letters today.


On duty in #17, mumps ward, such a life, sure want to go home.


Made P some fudge today and sent it to him, hope he gets it.


Went to the dance, had a real nice time but came home early.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday 

Nothing exciting happen, same old mud hole.

Tuesday January 21 

Had the whole day off, went to Neuf today, bought wool to make a sweater, and took a walk with Steve, no news about going home, expect to be here this time next year.

Wednesday January 22 

On duty most of day

Thursday January 23 

Little excitement today. The nurses who wish to remain in France had to sign up, looks like we are going home. Who should walk into our hospital today, no one but Peany. Was making fudge for Steve and Leah but Peany got most of it, he is being transferred near Dijon. We went to Neuf for dinner, I sure did miss a good dance.

Friday, January 24 

Am real glad I did not go to the dance, an accident, 2 nurses with fractured ribs, suppose I would have been the unfortunate one if I had went to our dance at night.

Saturday January 25 

Not much news but I really do think we are going home, our trunks were marked today.

Sunday January 26 

Al last the news has arrived. We leave Tuesday morning, am so excited. Leah was to have her leave Tuesday, she is disappointed. Lots of mail today.

Monday January 27 

Went to Neuf today, bought a few things to take home and some lunch. Goldie bought a beautiful ring. Made a lot of fudge to take on our trip. The nurses remaining are about 38, gave BH 42 nurses a farewell dinner, the music was great. I had Dr. Wood over from 46. He invited me over to a chicken supper and dance Tuesday night. I am out of luck, but so much nicer to go home.

Tuesday January 28 

Gotten up mighty early, trunks carryalls, and suitcases have gone. 6am train did not come in till late. Went to tea in the afternoon, had some music, got on the train 11pm and did not pull out till 4am, such a mess,. 3rd class compartments, no heat, old hard wood benches, and they tell me we have a three day trip before us.

Wednesday January 29 

Sitting on the sidetrack most of the day, the rate we are going I think we will be about 10 days. I am so tired; all we ate is sardines, bread.

Thursday January 30 

I think an American engine has been put on, we have been speeding, just a little. I sure feel punk.

Tuesday January 31 

We have gone about 2/3 of the way, we probably reach St. Nazaire Sunday, such a life, no water, no heat, no nothing.

Wednesday February 1, 1919 

Arrived at St. Nazaire 2pm, went over to the Red Cross for sandwiches and cocoa and then were carried about 8 miles in trucks to La Baule. A beautiful hotel, but no heat, I had a great bath and a good dinner and to bed.

Sunday February 2 

Took a long walk along the Atlantic beach, had tea in a clean little place and got warm at the Red Cross.


Today we got orders to pack, we leave in the morning for Brest, wonder if we will ever sail. Did some shopping today. Gee, I’ll be glad when I get home.


An all day trip in the train but great deal better than our last trip. Arrived at Base 65 at 11pm, we were put in a large barracks, no sheets, pillowcases or anything.


Not allowed off the grounds. Had tea at 3pm in the hut


Play cards or knit. That’s all we have to do.


No orders yet, have finished my sweater.


Learning to play bridge, rather interesting. Went AWOL to the nearby village, bought the cutest wooden shoes.


Went to church, nothing exciting. Is happening. Rumors but no real news.


Moved to another barracks today, much more comfortable.


Took a walk in the village today.


Went across the river in a rowboat, real nice time. Had a dandy minstrel show here at night.

Thursday, Friday 

Played bridge mostly all day.


Meanwhile, back in the States. This information is from research by Dr. Marian Moser Jones of the University of Maryland:
On March 10, 1919, Green arrived back in New York with many other nurses from her unit.
She returned to Baltimore, greeted by hundreds, on March 16, 1919.  
She was discharged from Army Nurse Corps on April 9, 1919 (from Service Record).
On April 10, 1919, she gave a talk to a Women's club in Irvington, Maryland, about her experiences "Over There."
1920, June 4 -- the Army Reorganization Act authorized relative rank for nurses. Prior to this point, nurses did not have rank and were not recognized as officers. Following the passage of this law, they were given officers' ranks, from 2nd Lieutenant through Major. They were not, however, given commissions or base pay equal to that of other officers of the same grade. Such equal treatment would have to wait until 1947. (Mary Sarnecky, The History of the US Army Nurse Corps).
Green was re-inducted into Army Nurse Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant only 8 days after the passage of this law, on June 12, 1920. She served at General Hospital No. 21, in Denver, Colorado, (renamed Fitzsimons General Hospital July 1, 1920) until January 24, 1922 (Shipley,The Officers and Nurses of Evacuation Hospital No. 8) As a postwar nurse officer, she belonged to a small elite: By June 30, 1921 there were only 851 nurses, including 1 major, 4 captains, 74 first lieutenants, and 772 second lieutenants (Office of Military History, US Army)

Green Shay's gravestone indicates that she was a first lieutenant. She might have been promoted some time between 1920 and 1922. Even though Shipley's book lists her as a 2nd Lieutenant, he readily admitted in the preface that it included numerous errors (her maiden name was also misspelled).
If she was promoted to First Lieutenant, as her gravestone indicates, she was among the top 100 women serving in the US Army during the postwar period. Additional material may be available at the Army Nurse Corps historical collection in Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, which I plan to visit for my research. 
As for her personal life.... 

She met Raymond Shay, also a veteran, a cavalry officer who served in the A.E.F. with the Iowa National Guard, who was recovering from tuberculosis at Fitzsimons. 

They married on June 28, 1922.  They had two children, Thomas (our father) and Patricia. Florence died August 17, 1980, at the age of 88. She and Raymond are buried together at Fort Logan National Military Cemetery in Denver. 

To her nine grandchildren, Florence Green Shay was known as "Mudder." And that's how we remember her.
Raymond Shay, Cavalry officer with the Iowa National Guard in the A.E.F. His grandchildren called him "Big Danny."
Florence Green's Foreign Service Certificate.
From the History Colorado Center web site: One of the 48 original 1918 buildings at the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colo., the Red Cross Building offered patient entertainment, which was especially meaningful for long-term patients usually suffering from tuberculosis. During WWI and WWII, the building put on vaudeville shows, movies, and concerts. Today, it is significant for its role in nursing soldiers, as well as for its architectural design as a standard cross-plan military building with stucco walls and shaped parapets. FMI:
Fort Logan National Military Cemetery in Denver after a snowfall. FMI:

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