Introduction to Nurses of the 32nd Station Hospital

Principal Chief Nurse Helen W. Brammer’s “Report of Nursing Activities – 1943” stated: “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.”  (Morning reports state that the physical therapists and dietician were assigned a little later, on January 13, 1943.)  Thus, the nurses 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.

Since women were not subject to the draft in the United States, the unit’s nurses were all volunteers.  At the time that the unit went overseas, 2nd Lieutenant Kathleen M. Donahue was the youngest at 21, and 2nd Lieutenant Cecilia M. Gallant was the oldest at 43.  The average age was 28 and median age was 26.

54 nurses of the unit’s original 55 nurses entered the service in the Northeast (though at least three were born in Canada and one in Ireland).  Just under half were living in New England when they joined the Army Nurse Corps, with most of the rest from New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.  The largest single group to join the unit were 25 nurses living in New England who had been stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts.  Others joined the unit from Camp Upton, Pine Camp, and Fort Ontario in New York as well as Raritan Arsenal and Fort Dix in New Jersey, and Fort DuPont, Delaware.  It appears that Principal Chief Nurse Helen W. Brammer was the only nurse of the 55 who had been a member of the Army Nurse Corps before Pearl Harbor.  Brammer was also one of only two nurses born in the Midwest, as well as the only nurse who entered the A.N.C. outside the Northeast.

There was some attrition due to illnesses and transfers.  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, the unit still had to make do with the staffing of a 500 bed station hospital.

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.  In some cases, married nurses served under their maiden names.  Each entry lists the name by which the nurse was known in U.S. Army records when she first joined the unit, with variant names (such as married names) in parentheses.

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 Theater) are also omitted.

For general information on research and curatorial decisions, please see Introduction to Personnel.


Nurses of the 32nd Station Hospital

Nurses of the 32nd Station Hospital: Part I (Last Names A–G)
Nurses of the 32nd Station Hospital: Part II (Last Names H–M)
Nurses of the 32nd Station Hospital: Part III (Last Names N–S)
Nurses of the 32nd Station Hospital: Part IV (Last Names T–Z)

The Mystery of Rachel Sheridan, the 32nd Station Hospital’s Lost Nurse

Introduction to the Alice Griffin Collection
Letters from the Alice Griffin Collection: Part I (March & April 1943)
Letters from the Alice Griffin Collection: Part II (May & June 1943)
Letters from the Alice Griffin Collection: Part III (July & August 1943)
Letters from the Alice Griffin Collection: Part IV (September & October 1943)
Letters from the Alice Griffin Collection: Part V (November & December 1943)


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Last updated October 16, 2020