WW1 Medical Corps

Dana Vail, Ambulance Service
, Jefferson County, Indiana

"You can’t imagine how awful it is.  We thought we knew about war when we were in the other sector as we took in different parts of the front.  Our first few months seemed more a picnic than anything else.  It is no fun traveling around with attacking division.

“We are back in a place for we can get ahold of baths again.  My, that is good news!  And we've gotten very good quarters too. It's a little better than sleeping in an old, rickety barn, on moldy straw, with lice, mice and rats running over you, bombs, shells, bullets bursting within 10 to 50 ft. from you, and waking up in the middle of the night to put on your gas mask.  We have been through all that (and) the memories aren't very pleasant.”

Andrew Milburn Meek, 2nd Lt., 152nd Ambulance Company, Medical Corps, Grant County, Indiana

“Learned to love rattlesnakes and eat sand while training in the pine forests of Mississippi.”

WW 1 Ambulance train

Ambulance Train

US Signal Corps photo, Indiana War Memorial

Valley Virginia Boyer, Laboratory Technician, Medical Corps, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

Entered service July 2, 1918.  Stationed at Camp Cody. N. M., as bacteriologist and chemist in Base Hospital laboratory, also Division Agent on Bureau of Civilian Relief, Mountain Division of American Red Cross, in Post War Work, at Denver Colo.  Received discharge from Medical Department of the army, January 27,1919, and left immediately for Denver to take up work with the American Red Cross.  Born at LaFayette, Ind., Jan, 4, 1884, daughter of S. H. P. and Amanda C. Boyer. Graduate of LaFayette high school, Chautauqua School of Physical Education, Chautauqua N. Y., and Purdue University.  Home is LaFayette. Ind.


Willys Peck Wagner, Medical Corps, Vigo County, Indiana

“Still strongly against compulsory military service excepting case of actual invasion.  Would like to see all armies completely abolished.”

WW 1 Camp hospital, France

Camp Hospital 7, Humes, France

National Archives photo, Indiana War Memorial

Ross Bradley Bretz, Medical Corps, Physician, Vanderburg County, Indiana

  1. Medical Officers Training Camp, Fort Riley, Kansas
  2. Infantry School of Fire, School of Gas Warfare, Fort Sill, Oklahoma
  3. Director, Gas Defense, Fort Snelling, Minnesota.
  4. Adjutant to attending surgeon, Headquarters, Central Department, Chicago, Illinois
  5. Member of Officers Disability Board, Special Intelligence Officer
  6. Field Hospital Co. 351, 313th Sanitary Train, 88th Div., Camp Dodge, Iowa
  7. School for treatment of Shock and Hemorrhage, Dijon, Cote d’Or, France
  8. Field Hospital Co. #352, Romangny, France, treatment of gassed cases.
  9. Battalion Gas Officer, 313th Sanitary Train
  10. Base Hospital #15, Chaumont, France
  11. First Depot Division, St. Aignon, France
  12. Camp Hospital #49, Laignes, Cote d’ Or, France
  13. Officer Chief Surgeon, Advanced Section, Neuf Château
  14. Post Hospital, Romagne, France (Argonne Cemetery)
  15. Infirmary, Motor Transport Corps, Reception Park, Bourg, Haute Marne
  16. Commanding Officer, Medical Detachment, 426th Motor Supply Train
  17. Troop Surgeon, USS Montpelier

Iva Lehman, Nurse, Whitley County, Indiana

"Anyone who is actively interested in the war, especially those of us who saw its results from the physical standpoint, can only repeat Sherman when he said, 'War is Hell.'   One trip to a government hospital today, 18 years after its close, will prove this to its fullest.

"In spite of the fact that we were provided with rubber boots, and in addition took with us one or two extra pairs of rubbers, we were soon in need of more rubber footwear. Fifty days of continuous rain make the mud almost bottomless, and it was impossible to step out of our quarters without being protected. A few walks were made with broken stones and cinders, but the broken stones were hard on shoes. Many of us wore rubbers issued from the Quartermaster's, but they were so large and heavy that we can scarcely carry them. I went into Nevers one day for the purpose of buying some new rubbers.  I saw in a show window, a pair that looked as if I might be able to wear them.  After the use of my few broken French words, and many gestures, the French girl clerk took the rubbers from the window for me to try.  They were fairly good fit; so I took them and paid for them.  When I was ready to leave, she picked up my mud covered rubbers that had very little sole left, smilingly, set them on the counter, and said 'My American souvenir'.

Christmas of 1918 in France was very interesting.  All did what they could to make it a merry one, as there were prospects of our soon going home, but Quartermaster issued us a 100 lb. sack of sugar to be made into candy.  We were busy every minute when off-duty, for several days, on this job, as we only had an upright heating stove in our quarters, and much of the candy was cooked there.  Fuel was very scarce, which added to our difficulties, but we finally accomplish our purpose, and made the candy go was far as possible among the boys.  Mistletoe grew in abundance, and this was used to decorate the wards.  We also had Christmas trees in the wards and at the nurse's home.  The Red Cross filled home knitted socks for all the patients with cigarettes, oranges, nuts and candy.  All patients who were able went to Christmas Eve services held at the Red Cross hut.  To accommodate the crowds, three services were held, the last at midnight.  We attended this one and then went to bed at 4 AM, then many of us put on our white uniforms, which were seldom worn, our caps and capes, and marched through all the wards carrying candles and singing Christmas carols.  Later, there was a very nice dinner for the boys, and each ward had a little party of his own.  The photograph shows the inner dress-up uniform.  Our work uniforms were gray crepe or gingham, with white butcher's aprons. We were often very thankful that they were such, as we had to do our own laundry work.   We never learn(ed) to patronize public wash pools; so usually a pail served as a wash tub.  We were lucky to have hot water.  Our ironing was often done by folding the aprons nice and straight and sleeping on them. The uniforms had to be pulled as straight as possible."


Joseph Hamilton Weinstein, Captain, Surgeon, Medical Corps, Vigo County, Indiana

"Regularity of camp life improved my health and increased my weight, but only increased my dislike military and its methods.

Hard work and irregular hours took off all I had gained until long after the Armistice, my dislike for military life was only increased.  I really insist things must be and the military must exist, unfortunately- that such methods are the only ones which such numbers of men can be handled.  I am more bitterly opposed an effort to war, yet when duty calls in the country is in need of my services, they were and will be freely and cheerfully given."

Hospital Train


Inside a hospital train car

America's War for Humanities




Katherine R. Kreutzer, Nurse, Miami County, Indiana

"interesting experiences: Leave spent at Nice and Mentone.  Visit to battlefields, Verdun, Argonne Forest, Montfaucon, Romagnr Cemetery, Joan of Arc's home.  So unsettling after returning but I could easily have reenlisted.  Everyone I heard from felt the same way.  Soon I was myself once more"


Maude J. Welsh, Army Nurse Corps, Red Cross Nurse, Cass County, Indiana

"Service in the Army was true to its reputation - one got anything but the type of service requested in enlistment.  We nurses vowed that in the next war be be telephone girls - they seem to get all the breaks - but, of course, we never trade services with them."


Ruth Wright, Army Nurse Corps, Fulton County, Indiana

Served at General Hospital 1, New York; Embarkation Hosp1, New Jersey; Debarkation Hospital 1, NY; Base Hosp. 32, Contrexeville, France, Hosp. D; detached service w/ field H, 307 & 147; Evacuation Hospital 14, Toul, France & Evacuation Hospital 14, Coblenz, Germany.   "Moonlight nights always remind me of air raids'"


Clayton Chauncey Buell, Private, Allen County Indiana

62nd Bn., Canadian Expeditionary Forces  “My nearest relatives have always lived here and because of that I've always considered Ft. Wayne my home, the only home I have.

The 62nd Battalion was absorbed in England by the 30th reserve, Canadian and was sent in drafts as reinforcements to different units in France, I went with the 29th Battalion and served with them for 21 months when I was transferred to the #1 General hospital, Canadian Army Medical Corps and while there was wounded in an air raid May 19, 1918.

USS Mercy, Hospital ship, operating room

USS Mercy, first completely equipped hospital ship. The operating room of the "Mercy"

CN 2989 Group 63, Courtesy Indiana War Memorial

Baruch Mordecai Edlavitch, Indiana, Medical Corps, Allen County

“Served as a surgeon on five British ships used in transport service and on one Dutch ship.

On arrival at Liverpool on S. S. Tahiti, the ship was taken from our service, and I was returned to the US as assistant Surgeon on S. S. Minnehaha.

After arrival in Liverpool on S. S. Orca, the ship also was taken from our service.  With assigned to duty as surgeon on S. S. Pannonia.  After a wait of several weeks, during which his ship was held up, he was transferred to duty in the office of attending surgeon, London, England, a section 2 S. O. S., A. F., and afterwards was returned to US as surgeon on the Dutch S. S. Noordam.”

Nurses graves in France

"Army Nurses Lie in Far off France. Army nurses' graves are always decorated by grateful hands."

US Official Photo

Rosa Mary Rapp, Army Nurse Corps, Gold Star, Clinton County, Indiana

Her portrait hangs in the Historical Building, Frankfort, Kentucky.  Louisville City Hospital Alumnae has a Rosa Rapp fund to loan to nurses in training.


Mary Loraine Wendling, Army Nurse Corps, Knox County, Indiana

" I liked my work....  We should pray for peace every day."  Amusing: "Nurses drilling and attending Revelry at 6 AM."


Ted Raymond Wesler, Medical Corps, France, Ripley County, Indiana

“In August 1918, Private Wesler volunteered to give some of his blood for transfusion.  Was off duty for a day for this operation.

“War service: was a nurse in the wards of the 4th Evacuation hospital.  This hospital was bombed from an airplane on July 18, 1918 but no damage sustained, the bomb falling in an adjacent wheat field.

“When wounded on November 2, 1918 the guns were evidently aimed at the hospital but five shells fell harmlessly between the adjacent village and the hospital.  Three struck the billet where fifteen soldiers were sleeping.   Two sergeants were killed, nine privates and one major were wounded, all receiving severe wounds.”


Mary Lynn Swain, Army Nurse Corps, Henry County, Indiana

"Unit C was the first outfit in Château Thierry after the Germans left. Have a citation for bravery under shell fire."


Pauline E. Pfafman, Army Nurse Corps, Noble County, Indiana

“My most lasting impression of the war years was when 600 nurses and soldiers marched in uniform to the cemetery on Memorial Day to decorate our departed boys’ graves.”


Nettie Jane Penwell, Army Nurse Corps, Marion County, Indiana

“Not bad in the United States, terrible abroad, so my brother said.  Everything about being in Army and Red Cross Nurse was interesting; being in the service was the happiest time of my life.”


Russell Henry Mercer, Sergeant, Medical Corps, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

Entered service June 7, 1917.  Was first sent to France, then transferred to England.  Was in Scotland with secret service and later at Cardiff, Wales.  Was born in Illinois, son of Sanford N. and Letty Mercer. Graduated from Weidner Institute.  Home is at Mulberry, Ind.

Women Doctors in France

Women doctors at an American Base Hospital in France giving skillful and tender treatment to American wounded.  More than 2,000 women physicians and surgeons serve these hospitals under the Red Cross.

America's War for Humanities


ADAH McMAHAN , Medecin in French Army, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

Entered service Aug. 25.1918, under the auspices of the Women’s Oversea Hospital, USA Unit No.3. which was attached to the Field Ambulance 1-86Z, for treatment of the gassed men of the French army.  After armistice was signed did Civilian Relief work at Epinal and Vosges, France.  Born at Huntingburg, Ind., Jan. 12,1869, daughter of William Reed and Louise Elizabeth McMahan.  Graduate of Indiana University and Northwestern University.  Home is Lafayette.

Medical Corps Collar insignia

WW1 Medical Corps Collar Insignia

Indiana War Memorial Collections

Scott Kelsey Henderson, Base Hospital #54, Ripley County , Indiana

“Had as many as 2,750 patients during the heavy fighting, though supposed to accommodate only 1,040.  Officers turned out of mess-hall so as to fill it with cots.  The personnel of the hospital consisted of 185 men and 40 nurses.”

Ella Hand, Red Cross Nurse, Madison County, Indiana

"The first impression of the war was the marked activity everywhere, due to the love and loyalty everyone had for our country and the desire to serve in so great a cause. when our boys began to return, no one noticed there was disillusionment.  Sadness, that the country they loved had to go to such thing as war and cause so much cruelty and suffering.  Let us pray that our country keeps peace always.

A dear buddy, delirious from flu, bit me on the wrist when I was giving him a hypodermic injection.  He was out to fight the Huns.  He recovered and was told about it and sent me an apology.  Bless his heart."

Medaille d'Honneur des Epidemics



Florence J. Martin, Army Nurse Corps, Clark County, Indiana

Awarded the Medaille d'Honneur des Epidemics by the Minister of War, France.

The Medal of Honor, Epidemics is rewarded those who had particularly distinguished themselves by their dedication during periods of epidemic diseases:

  1. Exposed to dangers of contamination, providing care to patients with contagious diseases;
  2. Preserving, in a personal and noteworthy, territory or place of the invasion of a disease epidemic;
  3. Helping to spread or participating in disinfection operations, during an epidemic.

Mary Kennedy, Nurse, Dearborn County, Indiana

"An interesting period for new adventures, taking hardships, and seeing folks pass on to the great beyond, not knowing what it was all about.  At one time on my floor of our hospital, we were caring for American soldiers, French soldiers and German prisoners of war."

ROY M. ZUFALL, Private, Ambulance Corps, Tippecanoe County, Indiana

Croix de Guerre: Entered service in July, 1917, member of Purdue Ambulance Corps.  Sailed for overseas in January and landed in England and was later sent to France.  Was awarded the Croix de Guerre.  Born in Lafayette, May 16, 1891, son of Elizah and Mary N. Zufall. Educated in Lafayette schools and Purdue University.  Wife is Florence Becker Zufall.  Home is Lafayette.

Members of the 108th Sanitary Corps, 33rd Div.

Members of the 108th Sanitary Corps, 33rd Div., carrying wounded to a field hospital. Trucks and ambulances are shelled on this road making this the only way possible to carry wounded to the rear. France.

National Archives Photo courtesy of Indiana War Memorial

Robert William Batdorff, 150th Field Hosp., Hamilton County, Indiana

Sergeant, Indiana Field Hospital #2, 113th Sanitary Train, 38th Division (unit later renamed the 150th Field Hospital)

“Organization used as replacements after signing of armistice.  Was originally made up of Noblesville, Frankfort, Lafayette and Bloomington boys.  Major G F Holland (Bloomington) in command, Captain George D. Haworth, second in command.  Unit mobilized at Frankfort, Indiana August 5, 1917, trained there until September 13, 1917.  Entrained for Camp Shelby, Mississippi, September 13, 1917 and September 15, 1917. Only two deaths during service in this company, both from disease.


First Aid Station



Members of the first aid station of the 137th Ambulance Co., Camp Germany.

US Signal Corps photo, Indiana War Memorial

Robert Thompson Millspaugh, Goldstar, Pfc, Medical Corps, Grant County, Indiana

Robert T. Millspaugh enlisted in June, 1916, when the trouble was growing on the Mexican border.  He saw that we were going to be in the war and did not want it to be said of him that he waited for the draft and so enlisted early.  He was not strong and his family feared to have him go, as they felt he could not endure the exposure, but he insisted that it was his duty to try, and that if he should die, it would be just as easy in the Army as elsewhere.  He gave himself freely to the service of his country and paid sacrifice of his life.”


Jesse Maple Van der Plaat, Army Nurse Corps, White County, Indiana

"The war seem to be something terrible, and when the boys were coming back to camp crippled it made us very sad."

Amusing incident: " one evening a bunch of us nurses to our lunch and with some privates ( nurses were not allowed to go out with privates) went on a train to some little burg and had a picnic.  When we were ready to go back to camp, we had no way to ride.  The boys held in auto which took us in.  When we got nearly to camp, I told the driver to let us out as we didn't want to be caught with him or the boys.  He replied 'Sure.  I don't want to be caught with you either!'  He had no taxi license it was not supposed to carry passengers."

Ruth Ellen Jordan, Army Nurse Corps, Knox County, Indiana

"One morning before landing in Liverpool, we were attacked by a submarine, a torpedo fired at us, then to the small steamer, and do to the quick action of our Capt. in changing course of the ship, it past us without harm.  Spent Easter Sunday, 1919 in Brittany, marveling at the quaint customs.


Josephine Suwalska Jokaitis, Chief Nurse, Red Cross Commission in Poland

"On a bitter winter day, after heavy snowfall, I saw detachment of courageous young Polish soldiers marching.  Many of them were shoeless, their feet bound with tree bark and rags, but they went along singing cheerfully.  Another thing brought to mind when I hear people complaining of deprivations, is the many ragged and hungry refugees in eastern Poland; their homes in ruins, and they would come to the American Red Cross on foot from miles away, grateful for a bowl of soup and a slice of bread in medical aid.


Flora Jane Middleton, Army Nurse Corps, Carroll County, Indiana

"One of the deepest impressions left on my mind with the way the soldiers faced their wrecked lives. Shattered in mind and body, they were cheerful and brave. They would sing 'My left lung lies over the Ocean' to the tune of 'My Bonnie'."


Mary E. Seeman, Army Nurse Corps, Wayne County, Indiana

Served in Oklahoma and Puerto Rico: “There were 15 nurses in our unit.   I did not care for the natives of Puerto Rico, they were sneaky and treacherous and did not like the Americans.  There were several earthquakes, with some more severe than others.  During one quake, before we nurses knew what it was all about, our sickest patients, fresh operative cases, were up out of bed, running to get out in the open.”


Lillian Dell Seneff. Army Nurse Corps, Orange County, Indiana

“Dreadful to see men dying with flu. How happy the boys were to be back, some with fingers gone; some legs and arms; some, minds gone.

Indiana War Memorials