Sunday, July 3, 2011

We Band of Angels: Book Review

Band of Angels
By Elizabeth M. Norman

We Band of Angels, is the true story of our forgotten women during World War 2.  88 nurse's were trained, by the Army Nurse Corp, and also the Navy, but not for combat.

They came to the Phillipines, for travel. adventure, warm weather, and action, and fun. But they did not know what they were going to have to use their intuition, their experience, and street smarts.

Here is the background history of the Phillipines:

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The Americans and Phillipino's were in the Phillipines, on a base in Manilla. After a few days, the Japanese bombed Manilla. This forced the American and Phillipino troops to go to Battan. Once the military was in Battan, they were forced to the south of the Phillipines. Once there the Japanese forced the death march of thousands of Phillipino, and American military. 

The famous death march caused terrible relations after the war for years.  Because of this even, now Americans have a hard time letting go of this part of history.  There were 8-10,000 men died in the death march.  The Japanese military tortured American POW's many by starvation, torture, and physical torture. These men came down with terrible diseases of the tropics, Dysentery, and Malaria.   The death march was a 65 mile trac to walk. Many men died. The the American POW's were treated terribl

We Band of Angels was written by Elizabeth M. Norman. Her parents were in the military. But she has never served in the military. The hard part getting her research was finding out if the military nurse's were still alive.  Most of the nurse's were in their 80's. Ms. Norman was surprised that they memories were still intact.

The nurse's were not trained in combat. Most military did not know what to make of them. The nurse's did not even have uniform until the war. The uniforms they wore were not practical for war.

The nurse's set up Hospital #1, then Hospital #2. Both hospitals had several thousand men. The hospitals were not buildings. But were setup like camps in the Civil War.  No walls, no roofs. They had anesthesia in the beginning of the war. But, towards the end it was so bad they had to use Ether. The last time Ether was used was during the Civil War.

In between the hospitals were tunnels( caticombs). Where supplies, and the nurse's slept, and some patients were staying there as well.

The nurse's were not prepared for what was ahead of them. Unfortunately they were not trained, or prepared for combat. They had inadequate supplies, low stock of medication, the nurse's worked 24/7 no matter if they were sick with dehydration or not. There wasn't any sanitation, the nurse's heard the bombing constantly. Soldiers, and nurses's were exposed to Malaria, Dysentery,Beri-Beri( protein defiency cause you not to be able to move your muscles.).

The Japanese rationed the food at first to 1000 cal./day by the end of the war is was less than 500 cal. /day. They had money in the beginning they were using to get food and supplies. But towards the end it was practically nothing.

 Many Americans blame McArthur for abandoning our nurses and soldiers. He left and went to Australia.

The story of these band of Women was so unique, and their bravery speak volumes. Thank to them many soldiers survived and came home. The nurses did not want to leave the men when they came for them. What happened to these nurse's, and the soldiers was a turn of World War two, and changed the way we think of women in the military.

When some of the nurses were able to leave and come back to the states, The military was trying to glamourize the nurse's experience. By glamourizing their experience hoping to increase the recruitment of nurses.   Around the time this happened one of the nurse's wrote a book about it, one of studios wanted to produce a movie called, So Proudly We Hail. Most of the women were not happy about it. They felt it demoralized them. They made up facts as well.

This is a unique story. I always heard of the terrible conditions, and the treatment of our men. But did no know how or when this happened. The story connected the dots. I am sorry it took me so long to read this book. It took 10 years to read it, and I am glad I did.  If you are interested in this part of history, you would most likely read this book. I certainly did, learn about these brave women.

I am happy that Mrs. Norman told us what happened to them after the war. They did recieve a medal, but not the medal they deserved.


Anonymous said...

Currently about half way through the book. It's fascinating. A great read, and a patriotic tome. Worth a look.

Pat Grace said...

Poignant read,as an RN trained in a NYC hospital setting it hits in all the right places. 'WE' is the team and "care"is the mantra.Fascinating history lesson, the Girls did not receive their just due.Proud to be in this profession.