New Hampshire WWI Military: U.S. Army Nurse Lucy Nettie Fletcher of Concord NH (1886-1918)

Graduation photograph of Lucy Nettie Fletcher from her 1910 Radcliffe College yearbook.

Graduation photograph of Lucy Nettie Fletcher from her 1910 Radcliffe College yearbook.

I have a soul that, like an ample shield, Can take in all, and verge enough for more…” [1] These words are inscribed as the graduation quote of Lucy Nettie Fletcher, in the 1910 Class yearbook of Radcliffe College.

Lucy Nettie Fletcher was born on 18 February 1886 at Grouville, on the Island of Jersey, Channel Islands to Charles George Ellis & Antoinette “Nettie” Murdock (Binet) Fletcher. She was the granddaughter of Rev. William and Lucy Antoinette (Murdock) Binet. She had siblings, Susy, Charles W., Hanny J., Hilda, Vivian, and Alice F.

As to her ancestry, the book, “One Thousand New Hampshire Notables…” etc by Henry H. Metcalf and Frances M. Abbott states: “Miss Fletcher’s father and grandfather were English, but on her mother’s side she is descended from old Massachusetts families, Mason, Dedham, and Robert Murdock, Roxbury, Mass., 1692.” Her maternal American ancestral lines include Murdock, Mason, Clark, Woodward, Child, Hyde, Stedman, and others. [2]

SS iverniaIn 1901 Lucy Nettie Fletcher was living with her family at St. Luke’s Lodge, Elizabeth Street, St. Savior, Jersey, Channel Islands. On July 8, 1902, a 16-year-old Lucy traveled to the United States from Liverpool, England to Boston MA on the S.S. Ivernia of the Cunard Line, along with her mother and sister, Hilda. Lucy’s grandmother and namesake, Lucy Antoinette Binet was living in Concord, New Hampshire at that time. Lucy made several more trips home and back to the United States, namely in 1911 and 1913. She lived with her unmarried aunts, Eliza M., Alice L., and Maude B. Binet at 246 N. Main Street in Concord, NH.

From the 1910 Radcliffe College yearbook, Lucy N. Fletcher's listing.

From the 1910 Radcliffe College yearbook, Lucy N. Fletcher’s listing.

Lucy N. Fletcher attended St. Mary’s School in Cambridge MA for one year, graduated from Concord (NH) High School in 1906, followed by Radcliffe College in the Class of 1910 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. The Radcliffe News, Vol. 5, No. 29 of 1918 states that after graduation from college, Lucy worked as the District Secretary of the Boston Associated Charities for two years. Then for 3 years she studied nursing at Massachusetts General Hospital, graduating in 1916 and continued to work there as a night supervisor.

Photo, U.S. Army Base Hospital Number 6, Bordeau, France, Medical Ward No. 18; The National Library of Medicine

Photo, U.S. Army Base Hospital Number 6, Bordeau, France, Medical Ward No. 18; The National Library of Medicine

In June of 1917 when she went to France as a Red Cross nurse (entering from the State of Massachusetts) and was assigned to U.S Army Base No. 6.  She was appointed a head nurse in one of the medical wards. Her unit occupied French Hôpital Complémentaire No. 25 (Petit Lycée de Bordeaux), Bordeau, France.

In December of 1917, while working as a WWI nurse, “she was stricken with cerebro-spinal meningitis, and after a lingering illness she died on May 6th, 1918.” She was buried with full military honors “in the first grave in the officers’ cemetery near the base hospital. Reportedly she was “the first Red Cross nurse in General Pershing’s army to meet death in the performance of duty.”

If you wish to visit her grave, today you will find it at Suresnes American Cemetery in France, Plot C, Row 5, Grave 1. This cemetery originally held the remains on only WWI dead, but now contains U.S. dead of both WWI (1,541) and WWII (24 unknown).  [Also see Find-a-grave link, where I have added her photograph and biographical info, since only her death date is shown].

Photograph of Lucy N. Fletcher from One Thousand New Hampshire Notables, 1919

Photograph of Lucy N. Fletcher from One Thousand New Hampshire Notables, 1919

The Spiker of June 1918, a monthly magazine for the American Army says: “Miss Fletcher was highly esteemed by all soldiers, especially the Eighteenth Engineers. It was her tireless work and devotion to duty that resulted in her death.” Miss Parsons the chief nurse of the Base Hospital writes: “She was wonderfully brave and patient and uncomplaining. If all of us could be like her, heaven would come on earth. It was a privilege to have known her.”

On the Harvard University, The Memorial Church web page, under “World War I–Women of Radcliffe College,” it states “at her funeral, Dr. Richard Clark Cabot led the music, and Captain Henry Knox Sherrill, eventually to be Rector of Trinity Church and Bishop of Massachusetts, conducted the service. “Miss Fletcher was esteemed highly by all soldiers, especially the Eighteenth Engineers,” he said. “It was her tireless work and devotion to duty that resulted in her death.”

The Chanute Daily Tribune, Chanute, Kansas, 25 May 1918l Saturday, page 4 (see below) states (in part): “Nurse Lucy N. Fletcher died for suffering humanity. Somewhere in the Good Book it says “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.”  We respectfully submit that Lucy N. Fletcher displayed an even greater love in that she gave her life for strangers Her duty was to administer to the men who had been wounded in battle in defense of the rights of civilization; her duty was the relief of suffering and she was stricken and gave up her own life while at her self-imposed task.
  Monday’s overseas casualty list carries the strongest Red Cross appeal of the day–the appeal of Nurse Lucy N. Fletcher who gave her life for it.

The Chanute Daily Tribune, Chanute, Kansas, 25 May 1918l Saturday, page 4

The Chanute Daily Tribune, Chanute, Kansas, 25 May 1918l Saturday, page 4

—RECOGNITION—

World War I Honor Roll in the Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House: the name of Lucy N. Fletcher appears on the middle panel, left side.

Concord NH Memorial Field Memorial: the name of Lucy N. Fletcher is engraved under the honor roll of those were died in the World War.

Fletcher-Murphy Park, 28 Fayette Street, Concord NH; her name, along with that of Teresa M. Murphy is inscribed on a plaque in the park named in their honor.

In 2001 a plaque was unveiled at Harvard Memorial Church, “to the enduring memory of those women of Radcliffe College who gave their lives in World War I, including Lucy Nettie Fletcher, Class of 1910.”

—ADDITIONAL INFO —

[1]  The quote at the beginning of this post is: “Let Fortune empty her whole quiver on me, I have a soul that, like an ample shield, Can take in all, and verge enough for more; Fate was not mine… [continued] by poet John Dryden.

[2] At the time of her death, Lucy’s mother and one sister were living in England.  Her brother Vivian Herbert Fletcher applied for US citizenship in 1910 and served in the U.S. Army during WWI.  He returned to Concord NH following the war and  graduated in 1918  from Dartmouth College in Hanover NH. He died 4 Apr 1958.  In 1942 he was living in Maynard, MA with his wife Vivian.

[3] Also see the story “New Hampshire WWI Military: The Nurses of Base Hospital No. 6 aka “The Bordeaux Belles

[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I.  Look here for the entire listing].

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4 Responses to New Hampshire WWI Military: U.S. Army Nurse Lucy Nettie Fletcher of Concord NH (1886-1918)

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  3. Pingback: New Hampshire WWI Military: The Nurses of Base Hospital No. 6 aka “The Bordeaux Belles” | Cow Hampshire

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