Many of the 32nd Station Hospital’s nurses were living in New England when they joined the U.S. Army. A November 23, 1942 document from the papers of Ina Bean Carey (Special Orders No. 323, Headquarters First Service Command, Boston, Massachusetts) shows that 25 nurses from Lovell General Hospital at Fort Devens, Massachusetts were reassigned to form about half of the 32nd Station Hospital’s nursing unit. However, it appears they did not join the rest of the unit for over a month after that. A December 26, 1942 document (Special Order No. 309, Headquarters Lovell General Hospital) terminated the quarters for these nurses effective December 28.
Principal Chief Nurse Helen W. Brammer’s “Report of Nursing Activities – 1943” states: “The original fifty-five (55) Nurses, two (2) PTAs, and one (1) Dietitian, of the 32d Station Hospital assembled at Camp Kilmer Staging Area and joined the unit for overseas duty on the 29 December 1942.” Thus, the nurses and other female personnel only met the unit’s male medical officers and enlisted personnel (who had been training at Camp Rucker and Fort Benning since summer) just over two weeks before the 32nd Station Hospital went overseas on January 14, 1943. While the main body of the unit (including a little over half of the nurses) sailed aboard the U.S.S. Ancon, 24 of the nurses were split into groups of four and assigned with a medical officer to other ships. By December 31, 1943, the unit was down to 50 nurses (the new authorized number), even as though the hospital’s capacity doubled to 1,000 beds that year.
I have written biographies for 64 different nurses thus far. Unlike the other officers in the unit, the nursing roster wasn’t broken down into sections, and nursing assignments sometimes changed two or three times during the unit’s history. (Principal Chief Nurse Brammer mentioned in her 1943 report that “By means of a rotation service, each Nurse worked in and learned the functionings of other departments and should the need arise would be able to adapt herself to any phase of Army nursing with little difficulty.”) For this reason, the nurses’ biographies have been split into several articles in alphabetical order. Nurses whose names changed after the first roster on December 31, 1943 are listed under their maiden names, with subsequent or variant names in parentheses.
This list of nurses does not include anyone who was assigned to the unit just on temporary duty. Nurses who transferred into the unit at the very end of the war (from March 1945 onward, when many longstanding members of the unit were rotated home and replaced with new personnel in anticipation of a transfer to the Pacific Theatre) are also omitted.
Annie Patricia Barone (Annie P. Hagerty), N-721902 (May 4, 1919 – November 14, 2006)
Barone was born in Palmer, Massachusetts, the daughter of Charles and Frances Barone (who had immigrated from Italy). According to Barone’s daughter, her mother attended Mercy School of Nursing in Springfield, Massachusetts and later joined the military, both over her father’s objections.
2nd Lieutenant Barone was one of 25 nurses reassigned from Lovell General Hospital at Fort Devens, Massachusetts to the 32nd Station Hospital in November 1942. She appeared on the December 31, 1943 roster as Ward Nurse, Medical Section. 2nd Lieutenant Barone was listed as a general duty nurse on the May 1 and December 31, 1944 rosters. She was promoted to 1st lieutenant as of February 7, 1945.
On June 14, 1945, 1st Lieutenant Barone married Chief Warrant Officer Thomas J. Hagerty (1919–1984) at the 32nd Station Hospital’s chapel. The officiant was Catholic Chaplain William V. O’Connor (the former 32nd Station Hospital chaplain, who returned from Adriatic Base Command for the occasion). Barone’s uncle Francisco also traveled from Sicily to Caserta and attended the wedding.
After the war, the couple made their home in Dover, Massachusetts. They raised two daughters and a son. She continued her career as a nurse on private duty as well as serving at Glover Hospital in Needham on both general duty and in the Intensive Care Unit. She died in 2006, aged 87.
Ina Lucretia Bean (Ina L. Beane, Ina B. Carey), N-721941 (August 10, 1920 – December 30, 2001)
Ina Bean was born in Newry, Maine, the eighth child of Robert and Bertha Bean. According to her son, she was a graduate of the Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine, followed by the Central Maine General School of Nursing.
Bean was one of 25 nurses at Lovell General Hospital, Fort Devens, Massachusetts who was assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital in November 1942. Her military records list her last name as Beane, which her son reports was a preferred alternative spelling. She was listed on the December 31, 1943 roster as Ward Nurse, Surgical Section. She was listed as a general duty nurse on the May 1, 1944 roster.
On March 29, 1944, 2nd Lieutenant Bean married Captain William A. Carey, Jr. (a doctor from the unit) at St. Mary of Angela (Santa Maria degli Angeli), a Catholic church located in the village of San Nicola la Strada. The wedding party consisted of Thomas J. Hagerty (best man), Ruby E. Milligan (maid of honor), and Annie P. Barone (bridesmaid). The officiant was Catholic Chaplain William V. O’Connor.
In August 1944, 2nd Lieutenant Bean was transferred to the Detachment of Patients, 23rd General Hospital. After the war, the Careys returned to Massachusetts. They moved to Framingham in 1950, where they lived for the next five decades. The Careys raised three sons and a daughter. Ina Carey died in 2001, aged 81.
Ivy Ann Bosworth (Ivy Ann Lafratta), N-721931 (September 1, 1916 – October 26, 1994)
Ivy Bosworth was born in Methuen, Massachusetts to Herbert and Elizabeth Bosworth and raised in Madison, Maine. By 1937 she was listed as a student nurse in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and appeared on the 1940 census as a nurse working there.
She was one of 25 nurses from Lovell General Hospital at Fort Devens assigned to join the 32nd Station Hospital in November 1942 and joined the rest of the unit the following month. Decades later, Willard Havemeier recalled, “She was a very good nurse and one of the friendliest of our staff.” On the December 31, 1943 roster, she was listed as Ward Nurse, Medical Section. She was listed as a general duty nurse on the May 1 and December 31, 1944 rosters. She was reassigned to the Detachment of Patients, 300th General Hospital in January 1945.
Bosworth returned to Lawrence after the war. She married Nunzie F. Lafratta (1908–1995), who was also from Madison. They returned to live in their hometown, where Ivy died in 1994. The Lafrattas are buried at the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery. I am unable to find any record of the couple having children.
Mary L. Brady, N-723148 (dates of birth and death unknown)
2nd Lieutenant Brady was listed on the December 31, 1943 roster as Head Nurse, Surgical Ward with a rank of 2nd lieutenant. She had left the unit by the time of the next extant roster on May 1, 1944. An intriguing possibility is that she joined 2nd Lieutenant Betty McGaulley at Anzio, as indicated by the caption of a photograph printed on March 4, 1944 in the Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio) as well as several other papers on different dates. The caption of the photograph states:
German bombing or shelling by long range artillery is not enough to halt the “primping up” of American nurses on the beachhead below Rome. Lieut. Mary Brady, of Brooklyn, N. Y., holds the mirror here while her medical colleague, Lieut. Elizabeth T. McGaulley of Plattsburg, N. Y., repairs her tousled hair-do.
With the Brooklyn lead, I found an article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from February 27, 1945 which stated: “First Lt. Mary L. Brady of 302 Garfield Place has arrived at Miami Army Air Field, Fla., after 25 months of service in a field hospital in Italy.”
A list of 32nd Station Hospital members compiled for the unit’s 1982 reunion listed Mary L. Brady as being someone the reunion committee was unable to contact due to an outdated address; the last one on file for her was 704 Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. I have been unable to learn anything else about this nurse.
Helen Wilhelmine Brammer (Helen B. Hulcy), N-732063 (November 30, 1906 – November 5, 2001)
Helen Brammer was born in St. Ansgar, Iowa to Paul (a minister) and Clara Brammer. She joined the Army Nurse Corps on January 2, 1941. A November 20, 1941 article in the Waterloo Daily Courier (Waterloo, Iowa) stated she was visiting her parents in St. Ansgar on leave. The article mentions that she was assigned to Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas and had recently been promoted to 1st lieutenant.
It appears that 1st Lieutenant Brammer joined the 32nd Station Hospital with the rest of the unit’s female personnel on December 29, 1942 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Her “Report of Nursing Activities – 1943” narrates all events from that point forward (always as “we”) with personal touches that suggest she was a member of the unit from the very beginning. If this is correct, she was mentioned in 2nd Lieutenant Dorothy Mowbray’s unpublished manuscript, which, when describing the chaos at Camp Kilmer, states:
The uncertainty, noise and tension were great. It is a wonder that the chief nurse did not lose her mind, but she had one of the best qualifications for her position, and that is an admirable disposition.
Brammer was frequently mentioned in Alice Griffin’s letters to her family.
In a September 12, 1943 letter, Griffin mentions how group of nurses and herself were scheduled to return to the 32nd Station Hospital in Tlemcen from a rest camp, but their transport arrived late:
Well 6 came & seven & finally at ten the truck with other girls arrived. By this time it was dark but we started gaily on our way & arrived home at 2am with Miss Brammer still waiting up for us.
A September 25, 1943 letter discussed how low unit morale was after heavy turnover due to illness and conflicts between the unit’s officers and Colonel Harold L. Goss. Griffin implied that 1st Lieutenant Brammer’s leadership in the face of this helped keep the nurses together:
I’m go glad we have such a good gang. Miss Brammer looks like the wrath of Gods but never complains, never says a word –- — we thinks she’s one grand person. How she puts up with the gang of us I don’t know, but she seems to like us.
In a September 29, 1943 letter, Griffin mentioned that Brammer was recovering from an illness:
Miss Brammer looks awful but today for the first time she looks a little better. She takes an awful lot for us I think.
Brammer was listed on all three extant 32nd Station Hospital rosters (December 31, 1943, May 1, 1944, and December 31, 1944) as Principal Chief Nurse. Her 1943 and 1944 nursing reports for the unit survive in the National Archives. She was promoted to captain in June 1944. Captain Brammer was decorated with the Bronze Star on July 20, 1945 and must have left the unit shortly thereafter, since Captain Margaret M. McCormick was assigned to the position of Chief Nurse on July 22. By September 14, 1945, Captain Brammer was back in Iowa on terminal leave. Her Department of Veterans Affairs file recorded her as leaving active duty in the U.S. Army on December 31, 1945.
According to a May 5, 1946 article in the Waterloo Sunday Courier (Waterloo, Iowa), Brammer married Robert Archie Hulcy (1901–1980) in Wausau, Wisconsin on April 24, 1946. Hulcy (a statistician in civilian life) also served in the U.S. Army in Italy and according to his grandson, the couple met in Caserta during the war. The article also mentioned: “The couple will live on the Double H ranch in the Tennessee colony, near Palestine, Tex.” She died in Texas in 2001, aged 94.
Elizabeth Theresa Brooks (Elizabeth T. Dayton, Elizabeth Upright), N-723546 (August 1, 1910 – March 14, 1979)
2nd Lieutenant Brooks appeared on the December 31, 1943 roster as Head Nurse, Officers’ Ward. She was listed as a general duty nurse on the May 1, 1944 roster. She was transferred to the 24th General Hospital in October 1944.
When this article was initially published, I wrote that I had been unable to learn anything else about this nurse beyond the brief summary of her service in the 32nd Station Hospital listed above. Subsequently, I received a photograph from Ruby Milligan’s son of a nurses’ reunion at the Dogwood Room in New York City. A list of attendees was signed by a Betty Upright of Bayville, New York.
With this information, I learned that she was born Elizabeth T. Dayton in New York. She married Dr. Ernest A. Brooks (1909–1939) in Center Moriches, New York on July 28, 1935. She was widowed when Dr. Brooks died of a sudden illness on June 9, 1939. After serving in World War II, Elizabeth Brooks married Carleton Upright (1914– 2005) in Brookhaven, New York on April 6, 1947. The couple raised two daughters. She died in Sarasota, Florida, aged 68.
Angela A. Carone (Angela Palmieri), N-723602 (Feb 20, 1916 – July 29, 2005)
Angela Carone was born in New York City, the daughter of Frank and Catherine Carone. She appeared on the 1940 census as a nurse living in Hoboken, New Jersey. It is unclear when she joined the unit. 2nd Lieutenant Carone was listed on the December 31, 1943 roster as Head Nurse, Surgical Ward. She was listed as a general duty nurse on the May 1 and December 31, 1944 rosters. Carone was promoted to 1st lieutenant on August 7, 1944 and left the unit in July 1945.
Elizabeth A. Curran, N-731878 (August 28, 1904 – January 31, 1983)
Elizabeth Curran was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of John and Margaret Curran. Curran’s Department of Veterans Affairs record indicates that she joined the U.S. Army on December 1, 1942. 2nd Lieutenant Curran transferred into the 32nd Station Hospital from the 33rd Field Hospital in August 1944. On the December 31, 1944 roster she was listed as a general duty nurse. She was promoted to 1st lieutenant prior to leaving the unit in July 1945. The January 1, 1966 U.S. Army Register indicates that she retired from the military on June 30, 1946. Her retirement code indicates she retired due disability in the line of duty. She is buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
Wanda Elizabeth Dabrowski (Wanda Elizabeth Loveridge, Wanda Geragosian), N-721742 (March 14, 1916 – Jan 20, 1975)
Wanda Dabrowski was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts to Joseph and Adela Dabrowski, who had immigrated from Poland. 2nd Lieutenant Dabrowski was one of 25 nurses reassigned from Lovell General Hospital at Fort Devens to the 32nd Station Hospital in November 1942 and joined the rest of the unit in late December. On the 32nd Station Hospital roster dated December 31, 1943, she was listed as assigned to Night Duty, Surgical Section. On the May 1, 1944 roster she was listed as Nurse, general duty. She was promoted to 1st lieutenant in June 1944. Her assignment was listed as Nurse, Administrative on the December 31, 1944 roster. She had blond hair and blue eyes. She left the unit in March 1945.
Thanks to a May 1, 1945 column by Joseph F. Dinneen in The Boston Daily Globe (“A Romance of the War Fronts”), there is one aspect of her story that is well documented. While stationed in North Africa with a “base hospital” (presumably with the 32nd Station Hospital), she met and became engaged to Lieutenant William Loveridge, described as “a Hollywood radio commentator”. They were reunited in Italy and eventually married at a no frills ceremony officiated by a Catholic chaplain. The article didn’t list when the marriage occurred, but the caption on a photograph from the wedding in Ruby Milligan’s album gives the date as July 1944. Her bridesmaid was listed as Kathleen “Katie” Donahue. She officially changed her name to Loveridge in November 1944, according to a 32nd Station Hospital monthly report. The couple honeymooned in Capri. Just two weeks after they returned from the honeymoon, they were separated by the war for approximately eight months before reuniting in Marseille. When this article was initially published, I wrote that the couple lived in California after the war, but I had been unable to learn any more details about them.
In September 2019, I learned that I had overlooked Wanda’s death notice in the Boston Herald American on January 21, 1975. Her name was listed as Wanda Geragosian of Lexington, Massachusetts. At some point she had divorced, remarried (to John Geragosian), and had a son.
The Boston, Massachusetts City Directory from at least the years 1964, 1970, and 1971 listed Wanda Geragosian as a nurse living in Lexington who worked at Boston Children’s Hospital. The 1974 directory listed her as a nurse supervisor. (There were also entries from 1959 and 1960 of a Wanda Gerogshian from Lexington working as a nurse at City Hospital in Boston, presumably the same person.) Oddly enough, it seems her name remained as Loveridge with the Social Security Administration.
Emelda M. Dickson (Martha Ann Emelda Dickson, Martha Ann Emelda Guiner, Emelda Guiner Gardner), N-755095 (July 29, 1914 – June 12 1996)
Martha Ann Emelda Dickson was born in Toronto, Ontario, the daughter of Walter (a photographer) and Katherine Dickson. She graduated from nursing school at St. Michael’s Hospital there in 1936. A family tree entry on Ancestry.com features a U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration and Naturalization Service document from January 1937 indicating she was entering the United States via bus at the Peace Bridge to begin work at Beth Moses Hospital in Brooklyn.
As of the 1940 census, she was working as a nurse in New York City at the Lenox Hill Hospital & Training School. Various documents describe her as being 5 feet, 6½-7½ inches (169-171 cm) tall with brown hair and eyes.
Dickson joined the U.S. Army on October 5, 1942. She was initially assigned to Fort Ontario, New York. She married U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Frank S. Guiner (1910–1970) at St. Paul’s Church in Oswego, New York on November 26, 1942. Interestingly, she served under a version of her maiden name, Emelda M. Dickson. (One of her daughters recalled she received her nickname of Dixie during the war.) The couple was separated by the war. Guiner switched to the U.S. Army Air Forces during the war and served in the 8th Air Force in England; he subsequently remained as an officer in the newly independent U.S. Air Force, eventually retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1958.
It is likely, but not confirmed, that 2nd Lieutenant Dickson was one of the 32nd Station Hospital’s original 55 nurses. (This is conjecture based on a document which stated she was being transferred from Fort Ontario to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on December 27, 1942; the 32nd’s nurses joined the unit there on December 29.) Dickson definitely served with the unit in Algeria. In a document dated November 10, 1943, Lieutenant Colonel Harold L. Goss endorsed her application for naturalization, stating, “Her character is Excellent.” He added, “This young woman will make an excellent citizen.” Her approved Certificate of Naturalization was sent back to the 32nd Station Hospital on December 28, 1943.
As of December 31, 1943, 1st Lieutenant Dickson was listed on the 32nd Station Hospital’s nurses roster with the duty of Operating Room Supervisor. She was promoted to 1st lieutenant on October 22, 1943 along with four other nurses in supervisor positions. (Prior to that time, Principal Chief Nurse Brammer was the only nurse in the unit with the rank of 1st lieutenant). The May 1, 1944 roster listed her as position as Nurse Operating Room. The December 31, 1944 roster listed her as Supervisor, Operating Room.
After the war, Emelda was reunited with her husband. The couple raised a son and three daughters. The second of her two obituaries, printed in the Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida) on June 15, 1996, states that she left active duty as a captain in 1946. She transferred from the Army Nurse Corps Reserve to the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 1950 and served there until 1955. After Lieutenant Colonel Guiner’s death, she married John F. Gardner (1923–1982) in 1972. She died in Tallahassee, Florida aged 81. She is buried along with Lieutenant Colonel Guiner in Arlington National Cemetery.
Kathleen Mary Donahue (Kathleen Mary Cleary), N-721664 (February 3, 1921 – August 23, 2000)
Kathleen Donahue was born to Patrick and Mary Donahue in Waterbury, Connecticut. She apparently graduated from Crosby High School in 1938. At the time of the 1940 census, she was a Student Nurse in Waterbury Hospital. She was assigned from Lovell General Hospital, Fort Devens, Massachusetts to the 32nd Station Hospital in November 1942. As of December 31, 1943 she was listed as a Ward Nurse, Medical Section. Her assignment was Nurse, communicable disease as of May 1, 1944 and Nurse, general duty as of December 31, 1944.
Donahue married a Captain Cleary, apparently at the 32nd Station Hospital’s chapel, on July 22, 1944. The 32nd Station Hospital’s November 1944 report also noted her change in last name from Donahue to Cleary. I found a record from California that indicated that her husband might have been John E. Cleary (1917–1994), but that is unconfirmed. She was transferred to the 11th Evacuation Hospital in April 1945.
Cleary left the U.S. Army with a rank of 1st lieutenant. She is buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California, where her headstone describes her as “BELOVED MOTHER & VETERAN”. I have been unable to learn anything else about her, not even with absolute certainty the first name of her husband.
Virginia June Donehue (Virginia D. Kranyak), N-721659 (June 21, 1917 – August 22, 2013)
Virginia Donehue was born in Massachusetts, the second of three daughters born to Harry and Ida Donehue. She graduated nursing school at Lowell General Hospital in 1938. She appeared on the 1940 census as a 22-year old nurse living in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Donehue was one of 25 nurses serving at Lovell General Hospital, Fort Devens, Massachusetts who were assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital in November 1942 and joined the unit the following month. She appeared on the December 31, 1943 roster as Ward Nurse, Orthopedic Ward. Oddly enough, she does not appear on the May 1, 1944 roster but is listed as a general duty nurse on the December 31, 1944 roster. She was promoted to 1st lieutenant as of Jan 7, 1945.
She was rotated home to the United States on temporary duty in March 1945; I am unable to locate any record of her rejoining the unit prior to it departing the theatre. An undated newspaper clipping (likely from The Lowell Sun) in her family’s collection suggests Donehue ended up back at Fort Devens before leaving the military:
LOWELL NURSE WITH “IKE”—First Lieut. Virginia J. Donehue, ANC, 385 Beacon street, posed with General Dwight D. Eisenhower when the latter toured Lovell General hospital at Fort Devens yesterday. Lieutenant Donehue is in charge of a ward visited by the general.
(The Fort Devens Museum told me that General Eisenhower’s visit was January 31, 1946.)
Donehue married Louis William Kranyak in Lowell, Massachusetts on September 21, 1946. The Kranyaks raised two daughters and a son. According to their daughter, the couple met in Italy during the war. Louis was a member of a cavalry unit at the time. For that reason, as Louis told the story later, he smelled so bad that when he visited an officer’s club, Virginia was the only person willing to sit next to him! Louis was stationed a distance away from the 32nd Station Hospital (and right next to quarters for a different group of nurses), but later told his children that he was so smitten with Virginia that he never spoke to any of those nurses for the next two years.
Virginia Kranyak was a nurse at N.I.H. for about ten years, during which the family lived in Rockville, Maryland; the family later moved to Annapolis. She eventually retired to the same housing development in Melbourne, Florida as Eleanor O’Leary (Klimbal), who served with her at Fort Devens and later in the 32nd Station Hospital’s Orthopedic Ward. Apparently she was something of a bridge champion in her later years. A short tribute after her death appeared in The Colony Voice, which includes a poem she wrote. She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Ruth Patricia Donovan, N-721687 (October 9, 1920 – January 19, 1995)
Ruth Donovan was born in Quincy, Massachusetts to William and Anna Donovan. Her obituary in The Boston Globe on January 22, 1995 stated: “She graduated from Thayer Academy in Braintree, Cambridge City Hospital School of Nursing and University Hospital School of Anesthesia in Cleveland, Ohio.”
She went on active duty with the U.S. Army on September 3, 1942. 2nd Lieutenant Donovan was one of 25 nurses serving at Lovell General Hospital at Fort Devens, Massachusetts who was reassigned to the 32nd Station Hospital in November 1942. The 32nd Station Hospital’s December 31, 1943 roster lists her title as Anesthetist. On the May 1 and December 31, 1944 rosters she is listed as an operating room nurse. She was promoted to 1st lieutenant on August 7, 1944 and rotated home to the United States in February 1945, apparently following the death of her father. She served at Fort Devens for at least a year afterward.
Donovan served in the U.S. Army during the Korea and Vietnam Wars. She reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1967. Two years later, she retired and moved to South Yarmouth, Massachusetts.
Donovan’s nephew recalled that among his siblings and cousins, “Aunt Ruth is almost universally considered a favorite. We all looked up to her because she was a strong independent woman.” He told me that despite his aunt’s career, she served as a caregiver to her mother, “Even moving her to Germany with her in the 1960s.” He described Donovan as being an “healthy and an avid golfer” right up until her sudden death in Hyannis, aged 74. Lieutenant Colonel Donovan is buried in the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.
Velma Ann Drolet (Velma Ann Byrne), N-721906 (July 26, 1917 – October 3, 2005)
Velma Drolet was born in South Grafton, Massachusetts and graduated from the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing in 1939. While working as a nurse, she continued her education with night classes as a graduate student at Boston University.
According to her obituary, Drolet volunteered for the U.S. Army after she “heard news reports that Allied soldiers were dying in the field because of lack of trained medical personnel.” 2nd Lieutenant Drolet was one of 25 nurses working at Lovell General Hospital, Fort Devens, Massachusetts who was assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital in November 1942 and who joined the rest of the unit the following month. She was listed on the December 31, 1943 roster as Head Nurse, Medical Section. Her assignment was Nurse, communicable disease as of May 1, 1944. She was promoted to 1st lieutenant on August 7, 1944. 1st Lieutenant Drolet was transferred to the Detachment of Patients, 300th General Hospital in October 1944.
In June 1943, a soldier in the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Algeria was traveling in vehicle involved in a collision. Clarency “Clancy” William Byrne (1914–2018) was ejected from his vehicle and seriously injured. Byrne and two other men in the vehicle were rushed to the nearby 32nd Station Hospital in Tlemcen for treatment. One of the medical providers who nursed him back to health was 2nd Lieutenant Drolet. After he was discharged from the hospital, Byrne returned to visit Drolet and the two began seeing one another. Fortunately for the future of their relationship, both their units ended up in Italy.
The couple was married on September 6, 1944 at the 32nd Station Hospital’s chapel at a ceremony officiated by Chaplain William V. O’Connor. 2nd Lieutenant Drolet’s wedding dress was fashioned by local Italian civilians out of parachute silk donated to her by a P-51 pilot who’d been a patient at the hospital. The Byrnes honeymooned in Sorrento.
After the war, they lived in Clancy’s hometown of Rexburg, Idaho, where he resumed working at Utah Power & Light. The family moved to Arco in 1951 and eventually Rigby, Idaho in 1957. Although Velma gave up her career as a nurse to raise her five children (four sons and one daughter), she continued to provide medical care in her community on a volunteer basis. After Clancy’s retirement in 1977, the couple split their time between homes in Rigby and Phoenix, Arizona (as well as traveling the country). She died in Phoenix, aged 88.
Mary Theresa Gallagher (Mary Theresa Hickey), N-723806 (February 7, 1918 – October 22, 1986)
Mary Gallagher was born in Larksville, Pennsylvania, the eldest of six children of Charles (a coal miner) and Margaret Gallagher. 2nd Lieutenant Gallagher was listed as being assigned to night duty, Surgical Section as of December 31, 1943. She is listed as a general duty nurse on the May 1 and December 31, 1944 rosters. She was promoted to 1st lieutenant as of March 17, 1945. She left the unit in July 1945.
Gallagher’s son recalls his mother telling him that she shipped out for North Africa in January 1943 with three other nurses aboard a troop ship; since about half the 32nd Station Hospital nurses were split into groups of four, it’s very likely she was already with the unit at this time. Aboard ship, she met Edward James Hickey, the youngest of six children born to Jeremiah G. Hickey (one of the founders of the Hickey-Freeman Company in Rochester, New York).
2nd Lieutenant Gallagher married Captain Hickey at the hospital chapel on November 22, 1944. The wedding was officiated by the unit’s Catholic chaplain, Captain William V. O’Connor. The couple honeymooned in Sorrento. After returning from the war, the Hickeys raised four daughters and two sons, one of whom they adopted. She died in Rochester, New York, aged 68.
Cecilia M. Gallant (likely Margaret C. Gallant), N-721932 (almost certainly December 30, 1899 – May 27, 1986)
2nd Lieutenant Gallant appears as one of the 25 nurses assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital from Lovell General Hospital in November 1942. Her quarters were terminated at Fort Devens (effective December 28) along with the other 24 nurses assigned to the unit. A letter by Alice Griffin to her family (possibly but not definitely written July 25, 1943) mentioned “Gallant & Miss Brammer are chatting on the porch next door.” She was also mentioned in Griffin’s November 8, 1943 V-mail home:
By the way, if you get a call from Cecelia Gallant within the next couple of months, be sure and invite her out[.] She has arthritis of the spine so had to go home – she’s a girl of about 43 and she is going to go out & visit you for sure. Have a cocktail in the house to serve her.
Indeed, her name did not appear on the December 31, 1943 roster. Gallant’s name did appear on a list compiled at the unit’s 1982 reunion as one of many members of the unit that had lost contact with the others (likely years before), with a last known address in Waltham, Massachusetts.
A likely match was mentioned in a January 6, 1937 article in The Boston Globe (“State Hospital Employees Give Inmates Jolly Show”), as one of the staff members at Metropolitan State Hospital in Waltham, Massachusetts who performed “a two-hour amateur musical comedy” for their patients. Using that as a starting point, I found her listed on various Waltham directories between 1936 and 1957 listing her as head nurse at Metropolitan State Hospital. On the 1958 directory she is listed as being hospital superintendent there, and on a 1960 directory as hospital supervisor. She still held that title as of the 1964 directory.
The only Cecilia Gallant I could find (with the likely date of birth listed above and consistent with Griffin’s V-mail) in the Department of Veterans Affairs Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Death File (which frequently doesn’t include known World War II nurses from the unit at all) lists her as entering active duty on November 5, 1942 and being discharged on November 27, 1945. Oddly, the Massachusetts birth records have a Margaret Cecilia Gallant listed as being born to Paul (a mechanist) and Almina Gallant, in Waltham on December 30, 1899. Her parents had immigrated from Canada, and were French-Canadian according to the 1910 and 1920 censuses. Principal Chief Nurse Brammer’s 1943 report mentions that while in staging at Bouisseville, Algeria (after arriving in Oran January 26, 1943 and before beginning setup in Tlemcen on February 18), one of the nurses taught French lessons to the others. Based on her background, 2nd Lieutenant Gallant is a likely but not a confirmed candidate.
She was listed as Margaret on the 1900 census but Cecilia on the 1910 and 1920 censuses. On the 1920 census she was listed as living in Lynn, Massachusetts and working as a cashier at a grocery store, but by 1930 she was a listed (as Margaret C. Gallant) as being a registered nurse at Worcester State Hospital. The 1940 census also listed her as Margaret C. Gallant, listing her as a graduate nurse at Metropolitan State Hospital. She died in Marlborough, Massachusetts, aged 86.
Alice E. Griffin (Alice E. Feeney), N-721671 (October 25, 1914 – July 28, 1963)
Alice Griffin was born in Boston on October 25, 1914 to John and Margaret Griffin. An Alice E. Griffin is listed as a nurse on a 1937 Boston directory; she was a 25-year old nurse living in Boston at the time of the 1940 census.
2nd Lieutenant Griffin was one of 25 nurses serving at Lovell General Hospital, Fort Devens, Massachusetts who was assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital in November 1942 and joined the unit the following month. Griffin’s letters to her family during 1943 provide a wealth of information about both the unit and the daily life of a nurse overseas during the war. (Unfortunately, correspondence from the following two years appears to be lost.) Based on a letter dated September 1, 1943, Griffin joined the U.S. Army on September 1, 1942 (likely with 13 other nurses later assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital):
One year in the army today– does it seem possible? We are having a celebration tonight– there are 14 of us. Lt Linn heard yesterday that his wife delivered a baby girl – we’re celebrating that – Lt Willis is going back to the states – – a farewell party and it’s Ivy Bosworth’s birthday – so you see we have quite a lot to celebrate.
Griffin appeared on the December 31, 1943 roster with an assignment of Night Duty, Relief Nurse with a rank of 2nd lieutenant. She was listed on the May 1, 1944 roster as a general duty nurse. She apparently left the unit prior to December 31, 1944. Photos in her collection suggest she may have moved to a field assignment. Griffin was listed on a retirement list in the January 1, 1966 U.S. Army Register as retiring on April 30, 1946 with a rank of 1st lieutenant. Her retirement code is listed as disability.
Griffin’s daughter told me her nickname was Griffie or Griffy and that it was even used by Griffin’s husband! After returning from Italy, Griffin married Edward T. Feeney (with whom she raised three daughters) at Fort Devens. She died in Boston in 1963. Her obituary in the July 31, 1963 issue of The Boston Globe described her as a “former first lieutenant of the 32nd Station Hospital of the Army Nurse Corps, she served at Anzio and in North Africa and World War II, and received citation for her service.”
Last updated September 8, 2019