Monday, May 26, 2014

Recalling two Army nurses' deaths, 1917.

From left: Helen Burnett Wood, Edith Ayres, and Emma Matzen,
WWI Army nurses. Chicago Examiner 22 May 1917: 3.
As the centenary of the outbreak of World War I approaches, let us remember on this Memorial Day the nearly 200 American women who died in the line of duty during the war. Many of their deaths are attributed to the flu epidemic, but there were deaths such as those of Army nurses Helen Burnett Wood (Evanston, IL) and Edith Ayres (Attica, OH). En route to France, they were hit by a ricocheting shell on May 20, 1917, as the SS Mongolia conducted target practice; their fellow nurse, Emma Matzen (Columbus, NE), was injured. The official Senate inquiry provides graphic details about the incident. Wood and Ayres were buried with military honors; Matzen recovered and went on to duty in France.

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