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All This Hell

U.S. Nurses Imprisoned by the Japanese

Evelyn Monahan

Publication Year: 2000

""Even though women were not supposed to be on the front lines, on the front lines we were. Women were not supposed to be interned either, but it happened to us. People should know what we endured. People should know what we can endure.""—Lt. Col. Madeline Ullom More than one hundred U.S. Army and Navy nurses were stationed in Guam and the Philippines at the beginning of World War II. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, five navy nurses on Guam became the first American military women of World War II to be taken prisoner by the Japanese. More than seventy army nurses survived five months of combat conditions in the jungles of Bataan and Corregidor before being captured, only to endure more than three years in prison camps. When freedom came, the U.S. military ordered the nurses to sign agreements with the government not to discuss their horrific experiences. Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee have conducted numerous interviews with survivors and scoured archives for letters, diaries, and journals to uncover the heroism and sacrifices of these brave women.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Memory is the mother of all wisdom. Aeschlyus, Prometheus Bound

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

This book had its origins early in 1988, when, at the beginning of an interview, a former prisoner of war (POW) nurse asked, "Do you really want to hear this?" The answer was a firm, "Absolutely!" This exchange began more than a decade of research into the history and experiences of eighty-four military nurses who were prisoners of the ...

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1. Pacific Paradise

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pp. 1-15

Through the 1930s and until the last month of 1941, American army nurses waited on a long list of volunteers for assignments to the Philippine Islands. For navy nurses it was the "luck of the draw" that brought them to the Pacific paradise, where short duty hours allowed them to spend bright tropical days swimming and playing ...

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2. Paradise Lost

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pp. 16-28

Military nurses in the Philippines awakened to news that would change the world forever. Radios announced the attack to those preparing to go on duty, and word-of-mouth traveled like a tidal wave, breaking the news that would stun and engulf everyone it touched. It was Monday, 8 December, in the Philippines, but across the ...

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3. Descent into Hell

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pp. 29-37

On 23 December at approximately 1800, General MacArthur left Manila and moved his headquarters to the rock fortress of Corregidor, at the mouth of Manila Bay. Less than an hour before, MacArthur had decided that to prevent the destruction of Manila, he would declare it an "open city." A member of MacArthur's staff telephoned ...

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4. The Other Alamo

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pp. 38-60

One late afternoon during the hottest December in the history of Bataan, twelve Pambusco buses discharged their passengers and the nurses and medical personnel got their first look at the Limay beach area. The compound consisted of twenty one-story wooden barracks with palm-thatched roofs and open, glass-free windows ...

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5. From the Frying Pan into the Fire

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pp. 61-66

Hunger, disease, and combat had been taking their toll on American and Filipino troops for months. More than eight thousand sick and wounded patients covered the ground under jungle trees at Hospital No.2 and Little Baguio. Medical personnel and troops were just about out of medicines, bandages, food, ammunition, ...

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6. The Tunnel and the Rock

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pp. 67-97

The second group of nurses arrived on Corregidor in daylight and in the midst of an air raid. The once beautiful green sloping lawns and trees of the tiny island had been transformed by Japanese bombs into charred stumps and denuded gray rock. In the coming weeks, enemy planes and artillery shells would pound away at the ...

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7. The City of Hell

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pp. 98-111

When the Japanese ship carrying the wounded soldiers and the army nurses arrived in Manila, the nurses were assured again that the wounded would be taken to a hospital on the outskirts of the city where they could care for them. The hospital, they were told, was set up in a schoolhouse and was already equipped with beds ...

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8. Life along the River Styx

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pp. 112-124

The new year brought word from the commandant that a small quantity of medical supplies had become available and could be delivered to Santo Tomas for a specified price. The Executive Committee immediately put plans into motion to borrow the money needed to purchase the supplies that, until the Japanese had ...

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9. Hunger in the Heart of Hell

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pp. 125-153

The new year would bring drastic changes in the lives of those interned in Santo Tomas. On 10 January 1944, the commandant informed the Executive Committee that as of 6 January, Santo Tomas was under the direct authority of the War Prisoner Department commanded by General Morimoto. The Japanese military was now ...

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10. Liberation

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pp. 154-169

During the day on 3 February 1945, there were sounds of explosions and intermittent gunfire in and around Manila. The sky was filled with smoke that rose from fires south and east of Santo Tomas. Inside the camp the Japanese were hurriedly packing or burning whatever records they had not previously destroyed. Nurses were ...

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11. Home at Last

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pp. 170-178

The world had changed in many ways during the more than thirty-seven months the nurses had spent in a war zone and as prisoners of war of the Japanese. They learned how close they had come to being killed by their captors. The liberation of Santo Tomas seemed even more miraculous when the nurses learned that the Japanese ...


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pp. 179-196


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pp. 197-209


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pp. 210-216


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pp. 217-228

Illustrations follow pages-20

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Illustrations follow pages-84

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Illustrations follow pages-164

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813127446
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813121482

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2000