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From the Frying Pan into the Fire Never forget the American girls who fought on Bataan and later on Corregidor. ... The memory oftheir coming ashore on Corregidor that early morning ofApril 9, dirty, disheveled , some ofthem wounded from the hospital bombingsand every last one ofthem with her chin up in the air-is a memory that can never be erased. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright 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, and able-bodied men-in fact they were just about out of everything except wounded and sick soldiers. When General King decided to surrender Bataan as of 9 April, he ordered the evacuation of nurses and many troops to Corregidor, where they would make their last stand. The two field hospitals on Bataan were approximately five miles apart, and they received word of the surrender only hours ahead of the advancing Japanese who were fighting their way down the peninsula . The nurses left for Mariveles in different groups and by alternate routes. Those at Hospital No.2 had a longer distance to travel, and the way was clogged with vehicles, soldiers, and civilians. 62 All This Hell The nurses were filled with a myriad of emotions, including feelings of guilt and sorrow at leaving their patients and the doctors and corpsmen with whom they had worked so closely since 8 December, when the Japanese attacked the Philippines. It had been difficult enough to see men who had been their friends, their military families, torn apart by strafing, bombing, bullets, and shells. It was almost unbearable now to leave these men vulnerable and defenseless , their patients, their friends and co-workers, and to move to the relative, temporary safety ofCorregidor. A few ofthe nurses, like Denny Williams, were leaving their sick, hospitalized soldierhusbands . Lt. Maude "Denny"Williams received the order that the nurses must leave in thirty minutes. She had already been told that the Japanese were within three miles of Hospital No.2 and pushing steadily forward. She grabbed her musette bag, placed all the quinine she had left inside it, picked up a canteen ofwater, and headed for the officers' ward. Although they had been ordered not to tell the patients that they were leaving, Denny could not keep the truth from her husband. "We're leaving," she said. "Bill, I don't want to go." Her husband was quick to point out that ordering the nurses to leave meant Bataan was going to be surrendered, and Denny surely had to get out. She gave him the quinine and canteen. "Take care of yourself for my sake;' she said. They kissed good-bye and Denny left.I They went reluctantly, under a direct order that had to be repeated to army nurses who had been taught, and believed to their core, that nurses did not leave their patients and that military nurses did not leave wounded soldiers, sailors, and marines for the sake of their own safety. The direct order was repeated again, not for reasons of the nurses' safety but based on the cold, hard fact that the wounded and sick on Corregidor, where the military's last stand would be made, would need the specialized care that these nurses could provide. Lt. Hattie Brantley was among the nurses at Little Baguio who received orders at sundown on 8 April to pack a musette bag and From the Frying Pan into the Fire 63 board an old army bus to begin their evacuation to Corregidor. The doctors and other medical personnel stood around and joked with the nurses as they reluctantly climbed onto the bus that was to carry them to Mariveles, a small town on the southern tip of Bataan. "They said things like 'The Golden Gate in '48!' and 'Help is on the way!'" Brantley said.2 The bus moved out at a snail's pace, carrying the nurses through a scene of chaotic activity. The army was blowing up ammunition dumps on all sides, and fires from the explosions bathed the night sky with an eerie light. Shells from Corregidor's guns were roaring overhead as vehicles jammed the roads and soldiers slogged along in thick clouds ofdust. Civilians pounded on both sides of the bus and begged to be taken...


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MARC Record
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