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

Upon arrival at Bordeaux France on July 28 1918, Base Hospital No. 6 occupied French Hôpital Complémentaire No. 25 (Petit Lycée de Bordeaux). Office of Medical History, U.S. Army Medical Department.

According to the Massachusetts General Hospital Museum web site: “In May 1917, U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 6, a medical-surgical unit of Massachusetts General physicians and nurses, was activated under the command of Col. Frederic A. Washburn, MD, director of the hospital.”   Base Hospital, No. 6 was constructed in a school and other buildings in Bordeaux France–an area that was close to the battlefields of WWI. The Massachusetts General Hospital archives state that the nurses in this hospital were later known as the “Bordeaux Belles.”

Among these nurses were six from New Hampshire, one (Lucy N. Fletcher) dying while in service. I have managed to locate photographs of all of them, and their biographies can be found later on in this story. The New Hampshire nurses were:
Leonora [Leonor A.] Field, Orford, NH
– *Lucy Nettie Fletcher, Concord, NH
Glee Marshall, Colebrook, NH
Edna L. Ricker, North Conway, NH
Hope F. Romani, 8 South Myrtle street, Milford, NH
Laura E. Sanborn, Contoocook, NH

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

The Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation Inc. shares some historical background: When the United States was drawn into World War I, “403 women were on active duty in the Army Nurse Corps, founded in 1901. By Armistice Day on November 11, 1918, 21,480 nurses had enlisted and over 10,000 had served overseas….several were wounded; more than 200 died in-service.”  Some died from disease or accidents, and some from enemy action. Many more survived, did their part for the war effort, and returned home to little or no fanfare or recognition. There were about 135 A.E.F. Base Hospitals (not including “Evacuation” and other distinctly different American hospitals) in Europe.

Because the New Hampshire nurses of Base Hospital No. 6 worked as a team with the physicians, nurses, orderlies and other hospital staff, I am first sharing with you a lengthy news article that details them, and lists them all by name. The interviews offer both an optimistic and a grim view of their experiences. At first the hospital staff was mostly a group of Massachusetts General Hospital recruited doctors and nurses, but later was combined with medical staff from Charlotte, North Carolina.  I have highlighted portions of the following news story in bold when it related to nurses.

The Charlotte News (Charlotte, North Carolina) Headline: BRENIZER HOSPITAL WORKERS WENT FOR DAYS WITH NO REST | Nurses and Doctors Often Were Under Fire, Slept in Uniforms Many Nights and Trudged Through the Mud in Order Get Wounded Back for Treatment–Charlotte Members Coming Home Soon. | (By CHAS. A. APPLEBEE JR.). New York, March 8. — (Via Portland, Maine)
Sixty-four nurses and twenty-five doctors of the staff of Base Hospital No. 6, made up the Massachusetts General Hospital Unit of Boston and Hospital Unit No. 208 from Charlotte N.C. arrived last Sunday evening at Pier 9, Hoboken, aboard the army transport Abaugarez from Bordeaux, France. They all came as casuals in command of Lieut. Col. Brenizer of Charlotte, N.C., since the consolidation of the two units one of the staff of Base Hospital No. 6.
– The hospital was located at Talance, a few miles from Bordeaux. Most of the staff returning wearing three gold service stripes indicating at least 18 months’ continuous service in France.
– Col. Lincoln Davis, of Boston, the commanding officer of Base Hospital No. 6, is either at Bordeaux or on his way home with five other doctors of the unit and 200 enlisted men who acted as orderlies at the hospital. Just before today’s detachment left Bordeaux Base Hospital No. 6, was consolidated with 208.
– The Abaugarez, an old fruiter, left Bordeaux February 14, St. Valentine’s Day. She encountered heavy weather all the way over, but her passengers, used to hard knocks and privations, did not complain and were right glad to see little old New York just before noon when she appeared off Sandy Hook and took on a pilot.
– When the Abaugarez was warped into her dock at 5 p.m. a crowd awaited her. The Red Cross and Camp Merritt bands were on the wharf ot play the familiar homecoming tunes, “Smiles,” “When You Come Back,” and “Home, Sweet Home.”
– The doctors and nurses enjoyed the trip up the harbor and were glad to get back, they said–back to God’s own blessed country, where everybody speaks their own language and enjoy happiness and plenty.
– Miss Sarah E. Parsons of Oxford, Mass., who was superintendent of nurses at the Massachusetts General Hospital before she went over in July, 1917, a gray-haired, sweet-voiced Samaritan, came back in charge of the nurses.
– Some of her brave and devoted band of women are to receive recognition from the French government, this fact becoming known when French officers, just before they left, secured their names and addresses from Miss Parsons. These nurses wore on their left arms the insignia of service at the advanced front line, indicating that they had braved the shot and shell and gas of the Boche.
-Prominent among these was Miss Margaret White, a tall slip of a girl, who comes from Charlotte, N.C. All united in saying that she deserves a decoration, not alone from France, but from her own United States, but the girl only smiled and blushed about it, when questioned by a representative of the Charlotte News.
– “I think I know,” said Miss White, “at least, I think I have an idea, but it would not be proper for me to say just now. I believe that when Col. Davis arrives home he will be in position to make that public and it is only right that he should make the announcement. He is the commanding officer and this unit is under military discipline.”
– Speaking of the work of the unit, in response to the request of The News correspondent, Miss White said that the day the armistice was signed, November 11, they had 4319 patients in their hospital.
“It was originally planned as a 1000-bed hospital,” she said, “but as the demands for hospital accommodations increased they kept expanding until we had 5000 cots and beds. “I have never seen men or women in my hospital experience work harder or more faithfully than these men and women you see gathered on this deck,” continued Miss White. “They were always cheerful and willing. They’d go anywhere and do anything without a murmur.”
“Now, you will not relate some of your own experiences, Miss White?” queried The News correspondent. “Really,” she said smilingly, after considerable urging, “there is really very little to tell. In common with the others at the front I did my part and tried to do it the best I know how. Nobody had time to be afraid. “Of course we were in the danger zone. Boche shells were flying and bullets were whizzing by, but we could not stop to think about them. The doctors were busy trying to ease the pain and save of the lives of our Yankee boys. I suppose if we hadn’t had anything to do we would have been scared, for it was a pretty serious situation.”
– Miss White was as enthusiastic over the Boston outfit as if she was a native of the Hub. “We had to live as the fighting men lived,” she continued with no show of braggadocio. “And why shouldn’t we? We knew that we were not going to a picnic or a military dress parade when we volunteered as army nurses. Somebody had to do it and it fell to our lot and I was glad to.
“The splendid heroism of our dough-boys would put courage into any heart. Torn and bleeding they never whimpered–never a complaint from them. Tell the folks in New England that they have ever reason to feel proud of their Yankee division. They were a great lot of boys. Not one of them did I see who was not anxious to get out of the doctor’s hands and back to his outfit to finish the job he went over to do. They were great fighters, those Yankees, and we were all proud of the privilege of serving with them and doing our part in the great struggle.
“I was in the battles of St. Mihiel, Verdun, and the Argonne. We went right up to the front and shared the hardships of the fighting, with our heroic soldiers and doctors. No braver men ever went into battle. Their courage and determination in facing the foe is worthy of the highest praise, and proves that Americans still possess the fighting qualities of their ancestors.
“I saw many of the 26th,” she replied to a question, speaking with a delightful southern drawl, “I saw many of them and many boys of other divisions. “I will never forget those months. I will never forget Argonne, St. Mihiel, Verdun. They’re not just words, to me. I saw our men fight there–saw the 26th fight there. I know what our men did. I know the toll they paid–know how many paid the supreme sacrifice.
– “We nurses worked day and night. We would go hours and hours–50, 60 without sleep. We wallowed in the mud in rubber boots and never took those boots off for days. We lived for days and weeks through continuous rain and never a change of clothing–uniforms always wet and wetter blankets and tents in which to sleep when chance there was to sleep. Would I go through it again? Would I?” Miss White was astonished that one should ask such a question. “Indeed I would,” she said; “so would ever other nurse. It was worth while–worth while to ‘do our bit.’ If I had missed it! Why is hurts even to think that I might not have been there to stand up with our men and help ‘carry on’ and ‘do my bit.'” Miss White’s assertion, so proudly, yet so modestly made, was the assertion of each nurse. Not one there if hostilities were resumed tomorrow but would take the next steamer outward bound for France.
– Lieut. Col. Brenizer, the Charlotte officer in command, a typical southern gentleman, was loud in praise of the unit. I am very proud indeed of my connections with the unit,” said he, aboard the Abaugarez, as he was assembling the doctors and nurses for a roll call and landing instructions. “We had one of the finest, if not the very best, units that left this country for France. “To get an idea of the work that this unit did since it has been in France, let me give you some figures–they speak louder than words.
– Twenty thousand cases were handled. Of these 17,466 were surgical cases, many of them severe, requiring major operations. The rest were medical cases. Our total deaths were 3542; we only lost seventy in the surgical wards. we think that is a record to be proud of.
– “Our first surgical chief was Dr. Richard R. Cabot, a well known Bostonian. He was succeeded last March by Dr. Lincoln Davis, another well known Boston physician, who remained behind to bring back the enlisted personnel of the unit.
“In addition to their work at the base hospital almost everyone of our surgical staff did work at the front at evacuation hospitals. The reputation of the Boston outfit preceded it to France, where the skill and ability of its staff of doctors and nurses were recognized and we were frequently drawn upon for special and important work.
– “Tell you of the nurses?” queried Lieut. Col. Brenizer to the suggestion of The News correspondent. “Why, I’ll be glad to. And it will be a story of heroines, for braver woman than these nurses who served under me never lived. They were wonderful–sisters of mercy who knew no fear and whose one thought was of the boys they had gone to save. They were ready to give their lives. One did–a wonderful little woman, Lucy Fletcher of Boston, a Radcliffe graduate and a graduate nurse of our training school. She died of spinal meningitis.” He paused a moment. We were standing on the upper deck and a stiff wind sweeping across the harbor, blew hard in our faces. I could only turn away and swallow rather hard.
“I could not begin to tell all,” he continued quietly–“Now people back home I am afraid believe we handle only cases that come to us, step by step, from other hospitals nearer the front. That is not so. Often, especially during the great drives just before the armistice, cases came to us directly from the front. Why, in July at one time we had 4319 cases in the hospital. And each day saw the number increase until every bed was taken–every bed in the school and all those in the buildings that had been added and in tents that were also needed for the overflow.
“And people back home, I am afraid, believe that our nurses and doctors remained at the base hospital all the time. Neither is this true. Our doctors were detailed to the front. Our nurses were detailed there. Many of them were at the front for weeks and months at a time–there with mobile hospital units. They did such work as much make all America proud of its womanhood. “There at the front, they slept in tents–shared all the hardships of the men they helped to save from death. They were under fire, in areas raked by enemy artillery fire and by bombs of enemy airplanes. They wallowed in the mud in rubber boots. They had to sleep in their uniforms for days at a time. And they had to sleep in tents with rain pouring down upon them–wet for days at a time. Not a nurse murmured. They were they to ‘carry on.” They did.
-“Then there were nurses from our base hospital detailed to train duty, bringing back wounded from the front. We were always short of nurses and orderlies. That meant that those left had to work longer hours and harder. A lot of our nooses were detached from time to time on hazardous duty, but they never flinched or held back. Many of them were under fire. I shall always have a warm spot in my heart for everyone one of these noble women who braved dangers equal to that of the men and cared for our brave soldier lads in a foreign land. At one time we had 900 French wounded at our hospital. “For our main hospital building we had a boy’s school. It was finely situated and ideally arranged for a hospital. While the work was hard and dangerous and the hours long, I know that none regrets going. It was a great service in a great cause, and everyone is glad they went.
“Often I have deplored the fact that there were not more doctors and nurses in France. Often the shortage not alone meant tremendous hardship to those who were there, but meant that the boys could not be served as they should have been. The endurance of the doctors and nurses at the front was but human, and there were times when they dropped–exhausted by sheer fatigue. Generally speaking, though, none had much criticism to offer, not did any offer criticism as to supplies.
“Doctors,” said the Lieutenant-Colonel, “have done much more in this war than most of those at home perhaps realize. I have seen operations which a few years ago could not be performed in our most finely equipped hospital performed in a tent, in a deserted building back of the front line trenches. I have seen them performed by candle light in such places and all the while the enemy’s fire raking the areas of these improvised hospitals. Perhaps enemy air planes were dropping bombs.
“There is one thing, though, that stands out–the heroism of these nurses. The doctors could not have worked without these women. And those women were always on duty, ready and willing to make every sacrifice.
“Glad as we all are to have gone and done our bit, we are also glad to get back home. We have had a wonderful experience, and we have made friends, the memory of whom will always be a source of inspiration and pleasure as long as we live. Harmony has always prevailed in our unit. It would be difficult to assemble another body of men and women so devoted to their work and so loyal to one another and to the flag and country they represented in the great war.”
Incidentally it was a wonderful reception the returning hospital unit received. Whistles on harbor craft screamed a welcome, church bells tolled. And at the pier was a band and representatives of all New York welcoming committees–the city’s, the Knights of Columbus, the Salvation Army, The Red Cross, the Young Men’s Christian Association.
There was a Boston delegation to welcome the unit.
Following is the complete personnel of the unit: Lieut. Col. Addision G. Brenizer, Charlotte, N.C.; Maj. Roger Kinnicutt, 72 Cedar St., Worcester, Mass.; Maj. Robert F. Leinbach, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Maj. James H. Means, 15 Chestnut street, Boston, Mass.; Maj. Adelbert S. Merrill, Hudson, Mass.; Lieut. Col. William L. Moss, Athens, Ga.; Maj. Everard L. Oliver, 27 Brimmer Street, Boston, Mass.; Maj. Richard F. O’Neill, 379 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass.; Maj. Berth Vincent, Fort Dodge, Ia.; Capt. William Allan, Charlotte, N.C.; Capt. Ralph A. Hatch, 40 Abbotsford Road, Brookline, Mass.; Capt William M. Hunter, Charlotte, N.C.; Capt. Frederick C. Irving, 86 Bay Street Road, Boston, Mass.; Capt. Henry C. Marble, 48 Terrell St., Worcester, Mass.; Capt. James P. Matheson, Charlotte, N.C.; Capt. Raymond M. Spivy, St. Louis; Capt. Harold G. Tobey, Clinton, Mass.; Capt. Henry G. Turner, Raleigh, N.C.; Capt. Charles I. Allen, Wadesboro, N.C.; Lieut. George R. Chick, Kittery, Maine; Captain James M. Davis, Hiddenite, N.C.; Lieut. William N. Gullifock, 125 Pine street, Belmont, Mass.; Lieut. R.P. Heard, Pasadena, Calif.; 2nd Lieut Gustave W. Everberg, 15 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass.
– Chief nurse, Sara E. Parsons, Oxford, Mass.
– And the following nurses: Johnsie Aldridge, Hillsboro, N.C.; Angeline B. Bagley, East Main street, Southboro, Mass.; Carrie T. Banta, Binghamton, N.Y.; Mildred H. Banta, Syracuse, N.Y.; Maude G. Barton, 21 Orient avenue, Newton Center, Mass.; Sarah Brook, Princeton, N.J.; Catherine F. Carlton, East Sandwich, Mass; Julia Colson, Union, S.C.; Catherine A. Conrick, Hartford street, Westbrook, Mass, Bernadette Cormier, Caraquit, N.B.; May Coulson, Buffalo; Gertrude Delaney, Youngstown, O.; Lena A. De Rusha, 77 West street, South Weymouth, Mass.; Isabelle A. Dewar, 64 Westland avenue, Boston, Mass.; Mary A. Diamond, 45 Lincoln street, North Easton, Mass.; Mary A. Driscoll, 65 Highland Ave., Fitchburg, Mass.; Gertrude V. Eastman, Huntington, Mass.; Caroline B. Emery, Winthrop, Mass.; Leonora Field, Oxford, N.H.; Anna H. Gardiner, Martinsburg, W. Va.,; Sarah Harris, Concord, N.C.; Ella E. Havens, 100 Upland Road, Cambridge Mass.; Edna M. Hill, High Point, N.C.; Elizabeth Fell, Statesville, N.C.; Cora M. Hypes, Columbus, O.; Clara M. Hyson, Indiana Point, N.S.; Ada C. Ikard, Newton, N.C.; Nellie M. Irving, 52 Irving street, Framingham, Mass.; Martha E. Jones, Fayetteville, N.C.; Helen K. Judd, Southampton, Mass.; Pergrousie Kavaljian, 543 East 8th Street South Boston; May R. Kelly, 17 Centervale Park, Dorchester, Mass.; Frances C. Ladd, 179 Bradstreet avenue, Beachmont, Mass.; Lulu Lambeth, Thomasville, N.C.; Lodovine Le Moyne, Clarke, S.D.; Blanche J. Leonard, Lincolnton, N.C.; Ann L. Lovejoy, Glen Ridge, N.J.; Sarah S. Low, Salisbury, N.C.; Christina J. MacDonald, Bay Head, N.S.; Margaret C. Marr, 383 Commonwealth avenue, Boston, Mass.; Eva W. Marryatt, New London, Conn.; Glee Marshall, Colebrook, N.H.; Margaret Matheson, 368 Commerical St., Provincetown, Mass.; Harriet L. McCoy, Charlotte, N.C.; Hannah C. McEwan, River Edge ,N.J.; Mary J. McKay, Trenton, N.J.; Barbara E. McLeod, 11 Appleton St., Everett, Mass; Sue J. Moore, Rock Hill, S.C.; Frances A. Morton, Mars Hill, Maine; Josephine A. Mulville, 397 Linden street, Wellesley, Mass; Helen T. Nivision, 53 Chestnut street, Gardiner, Maine; Olga Olson, Westford Road, Concord, Mass.; Aliice [sic] G. O’Gorman, 17 Hartford street, Boston, Mass.; Gladys I Perkins, 246 Broadway, Lawrence, Mass.; Margaret G. Reilly, 53 Malvern Road, Brockton, Mass.; Edna L. Ricker, North Conway, N.H.; Annie M. Robertson, Montreal, Can.; Mae G. Rodger, 55 Burroughs street, Jamaica Plain, Mass.; Hope F. Romani, 8 South Myrtle street, Milford, N.H.; Laura E. Sanborn, Contoocook, N.H.; Macie M. Stanford, Charlotte, N.C.; Dorothy M. Tarbox, Wiscasset, West Point, Maine; Mary Towle, Blinger, Okla; Lillian B. Towner, 870 High Street, Dedham, Mass.; Alice M. Townsend, 3 Mason street, Worcester, Mass.; Rosella Travers, North Easton, Mass.; Eva S. Waldron, 279 County street, New Bedford, Mass.; Mary A. Walsh, 19 Stoddard avenue, Pittsfield, Mass.; Alice M. Westcott, Ellsworth, Me.; Margaret E. White, Monroe, N.C.; Ruth E. Williams, Ogdensburg, N.Y.
– Lieutenant-Colonel Brenizer, citing certain statistics of the unit, said that after Colonel Washburn left the unit, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard R. Chabot was in command remaining until March when Lieutenant Colonel Davis assumed command. Colonel Brenizer left Colonel Davis to bring back the enlisted men.
– Upon debarkation the officers were permitted, after passing physical examination at the dock, to go where they wished under orders to report at Hoboken the following morning. The nurses were taken to the Polytechnic hospital for physical examination and then transferred to the Hotel Albert in this city. They will remain at that hotel until demobilized–about one week.” –end of newspaper article–

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⚑❅ Biographies of the New Hampshire Nurses ❅⚑
of Base Hospital No. 6
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Leonor Alberta Field. Photograph from the 1911 Mt. Holyoke College Yearbook. Also written: “”Leonor’s voice is soft and low, We hardly hear, she murmurs so; But yet the meaning clear doth lie– Just see the twinkle in her eye.”

■ Leonor Alberta Field, [erroneously listed as ‘Leonora’] was born 12 Dec 1887 in Hanover, Grafton Co. NH, daughter of Bruce F. & Josephine M. (Wilmot) Field.  She grew up in Hanover, and in the 1900 census can be found living there with her parents.  She had one sibling, a sister Charlotte B. Field who married 19 Dec 1900 in Hanover NH to George L. Clogston, son of John G. & Corralinn S. L. (Howard) Clogston. Charlotte died on 3 Nov 1856, buried Pleasant Ridge Cemetery, N. Thetford VT with her parents.

By 1910 Leonor A. Field was living in Orford, New Hampshire in the household of her grandfather, Simon, and with her now widowed mother.  Records show that Leonor A. Field was in the Senior Class of 1911 at Mt. Holyoke College in Hadley MA where she received an A.B. degree. Later she attended Simmons College in Boston MA–a half year health program in preparation for the Massachusetts General School of Nursing.

Passport Photograph of Leonor Field in 1917 just before leaving for Europe.

The US Dept of Veterans Affairs, BIRLS Death File shows that she enlisted in the Army on  29 Jun 1917, and was honorably released on 19 Apr 1919.  Her passport records of 1917 describe her as being 29 years old, with a height of 5 ft 6-3/4 inches, a high forehead, blue gray eyes, a pointed chin, brown hair, a fair complexion, and an oval face.

When the war ended, Leonor returned home to the United States and continued to work as a registered nurse.  She never married.  At some point she lived at the McGirr’s Nursing Home.  On 2 May 1983 Leonor A. Field died at the Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Bellows Falls, Vermont.  She was cremated at Mt. Pleasant Crematory, St. Johnsbury VT.  Her burial location is unknown. I found two photographs of her during my research.

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

✪ *Lucy Nettie Fletcher was born 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.

I have previously written in detail of Lucy Nettie Fletcher a nurse at Base Hospital No. 6 who died during WWI of spinal meningitis. If you wish to visit her grave, today you will find it at Suresnes American Cemetery in France, Plot C, Row 5, Grave 1.  She is recognized on the 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.  Her name can also be found on the 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 at 28 Fayette Street, Concord NH is another location where her name, along with that of Teresa M. Murphy is inscribed on a plaque in the park named in their honor. Finally 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.” [The History of MA General Hospital Nursing Program mentions the names of other MA General nurses who died]

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Glee Marshall, nurse, from 1917 passport at the time of her transport to Europe to serve during WWI.

Glee Marshall  was born on 29 Nov 1890 in Columbia, Coos Co., New Hampshire, daughter of Wilburn A. & Anna J. (Cilley) Marshall.  In 1910 she was living in Colebrook NH with her parents and siblings: Otis, Julia and Marion.  After serving as a nurse during WWI at Base Hospital No. 6 in Bordeaux France, she returned home to the United States.

On 6 September 1924 at Lunenburg Massachusetts she married Frank Hoyt Barter, son of Frank Herbert & Nettie J. (Marshall) Barter.  The 1930 United States Census shows her living in Greenfield, Franklin Co. MA with her husband, and two young sons, Frank H. Barter and George M. Barter.  Glee (Marshall) Barter died on 22 August 1949 in Hartford, Windsor Co., Vermont of carcinoma of the breast.  Her husband, Frank H. Barter died 13 July 1972 in Bennington VT, was cremated [his death record is confusing as it mentions both Springfield Cemetery, Springfield MA, and Springfield VT.] Possibly she lies beside him.

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Edna Louise Ricker photograph from her passport application of 1915.

Edna Louise Ricker was born 17 January 1878 in Conway NH, daughter of Levi Julian & Anna Eliza (Thompson) Ricker. Edna’s siblings included Mary E. (who m. George W. Kinney), Anna Charlotte, and Russell Richard. Her parents ran several hotels in the town of North Conway NH including Kearsarge Hall, The Cliff House, and the North Conway House. Edna L. Ricker never married. Up until her death she provided a place on her land for the Conway Chamber of Commerce booth.  She died in 1961 and is buried North Conway Cemetery. She was a nurse who served in Europe during WWI in both the Harvard Unit (1914 before the U.S. entered the war) and again in 1918 with Base Hospital No 6 (from Massachusetts General Hospital).

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Photograph of nurse Hope Romani. From “Milford in the Great War” Memorial Book, published 1922.

■ Hope Flora Romani was born 23 May 1893 in Quincy MA, the daughter of John and Marianna (Doughi) Romani. She was a 1913 graduate of Simmons College. According to the book, Milford in the World War (1922), Hope F. Romani “joined the American Red Cross in April 1917 and when word was sent from the War Department in Washington to the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, to mobilize Base Hospital No. 6, she was summoned directly and sworn in as an Army Reserve Nurse serving under the War Department of the United States. The Unit was stationed at Ellis Island, N.Y. until July 11, when they set sail for France.  After reaching France they were stationed at Bordeaux. She returned home March 11, 1919 and was relieved from active duty April 17, 1919.”  The newspaper clipping shown above indicates her home address was: 8 South Myrtle street, Milford, NH.

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs BIRLS Death File shows that Hope Romani enlisted on 29 Jun 1917, and was honorably released on 17 Apr 1919.  After her return from the war she moved to Obispo County California where she worked as the Sheppard-Towner nurse in charge of child welfare in that county.  Newspaper records show she presented educational health seminars to women regarding their children’s health, diet and welfare.  By 1936 she was working for the Washington Inter[national] School at Honolulu, Hawaii.  Hope Flora Romani died 10 February 1983 and is buried in the Romani family plot at Riverside Cemetery, Milford, New Hampshire.

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Laura E. Sanborn photograph from a passport application of 1917.

Laura Emily Sanborn was born 5 Feb 1881 in Webster, Merrimack Co. NH, daughter of Charles F. & Jane E. (Colby) Sanborn, and granddaughter of John & Rebecca (Coffin) Sanborn.  She was a descendant of Capt. Peter Coffin, soldier of the American Revolution. She was born and raised in Webster NH where the 1900 U.S. Census shows her living with her parents, and siblings: John C., Scott L., and Annie R.

She served in the U.S. Army during WWI, being stationed at Base Hospital No. 6 in Bordeaux France.  When the war ended, she returned to the United States.  The newspaper clipping reporting her return to the United States gives her address as Contoocook, NH.   The 1920 U.S. Census shows her living in Hopkinton NH with her parents, and brother John C.    Laura E. Sanborn never married, and she died 10 January 1969. She is buried in Contoocook Village Cemetery.

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[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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3 Responses to New Hampshire WWI Military: The Nurses of Base Hospital No. 6 aka “The Bordeaux Belles”

  1. Pingback: New Hampshire World War I Military: Heroes of The Great War | Cow Hampshire

  2. Amy says:

    Great post, Janice. I am so glad you have honored the memory of these brave women—all of those who served under such dire conditions.

  3. Pingback: New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Conway | Cow Hampshire

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