Skip to main content

tv   Reel America The Army Nurse - 1945  CSPAN  December 27, 2020 11:43am-12:01pm EST

11:43 am
island. ahead, the main strength of the jap garrison was entrenched in steel and concrete. the show is just beginning. >> you can watch archival films on public affairs in their entirety on our weekly series "reel america." here on american history tv. >> according to the 1945 war department film "the army nurse," 50,000 women served as nurses during world war ii. produced by the army signal corps for the war department, this film was released at the end of 1945 to help sell victory
11:44 am
bonds to finance the care of wounded servicemen and show the critical role nurses played during the conflict. ♪ [gunfire] [explosion] narrator: summer, 1945. and the war was one million men old. [gunfire] >> hang on, kids. keep your eyes shut tight and drink. they're moving you back now. don't give up. just hang on.
11:45 am
the road back is bumpy, and maybe the pain blurs your eyes. but listen. the sound of battle grows dim. and now, one question cuts clearly through the haze. which man will you be? the one who gets hurt and dies? or the one who gets hurt and lives? when the dizziness stopped, when the fog cleared, an army nurse was at your side. a woman who meant safety and comfort and home to thousands of men before you. a woman who meant all those things to you. a nurse brought another american's blood to your side to pour new strength into your veins. a nurse handed clamps to the surgeon and counted sponges. a nurse prepared and administered the anesthetic, and watched you constantly for any telltale change in your
11:46 am
breathing or blood pressure, all working with the same purpose, to ease the pain of war, to help save lives. ♪ the preparation for the moment that would bring the army nurse to your side began months before, back home in the united states. after three years of professional schooling, the nurses were given four weeks of basic training. in those early days, perhaps the nurse wondered why she had to sit through seemingly endless classes and submit to rigorous discipline. often, while muscles ached and groaned, she may have wondered why it was necessary to take those long hikes or grope her way through a gapped area. yet there were demands that would require of her perfect physical health and stamina, the strength to stand up to the rigors of combat nursing. four weeks of basic training finished, the army nurse was
11:47 am
ready to serve wherever the army needed her most. she might have found herself stationed in a general hospital right here at home. or perhaps assigned to a mobile hospital unit overseas. after she arrived, she may have helped to build the very hospital in which she worked. for the field hospital, or the evacuation hospital, like a circus, had to be able to pack up and move on at a moment's notice. its primary function was to offer immediate surgical treatment to the wounded, and that meant following ever-changing battle lines. everyone pitched in when a mobile hospital went up. enlisted men, doctors, and nurses. just one small instance when -- instant -- instance where basic training paid off. those muscles, toughened and hardened during those four weeks of basic back home, were equal to the job. in the field, the army nurse lived roughly and worked gently. there was no glamour and her life was far from spectacular.
11:48 am
she slept under hastily-pitched canvas, on a g.i. cot, under g.i. blankets. she trained her mind to act like an alarm clock, because time was important. a wasted moment might have meant a wasted life. she lived a life completely stripped of luxuries, and yet she asked for no more luxury than a patient's smile when his pain was eased. she ate regular g.i. rations, the same as the rest of the army, and often at irregular times. the hours were long and the demands never ending. and as a result, the nurse learned to make use of every moment of her off-duty time. ♪ she might not have chosen a g.i. helmet to wear to her kid sister's wedding, but it made up for its lack of style with its versatility. it was a beauty parlor, laundry,
11:49 am
cooking pot, washbasin all rolled up into one. a little community in size seven. she spent some of her time writing letters. not the "having a wonderful time, wish you were here" kind, but letters filled with all the drama of her days, with stories of the courage and the spirit of the men over whom she watched. a few moments could always be found for prayer. others for lounging about, talking of home. she may have longed to wear the evening dress sent from home, but probably only had the chance to talk about it. usually she wore olive drab or battle gray. her uniform at all times was her badge of service. but however she spent her off-duty time, she was always eager to return to the hospital, where the wounded were fighting for their lives. r, first and foremost, and
11:50 am
at all times, she was the nurse, offering professional and skilled care to the sick and wounded. a nurse first, a woman second, and an officer third might well serve as the slogan for every member of the nurses core. complete recovery of the patient in war or peace, depends not only upon the use of drugs, but on the skill in which they are administered and the care that follows. the nurse must be capable of recognizing at once any symptoms in her patients which demand immediate treatment. because if serious consequences are to be avoided, medical treatment must be on hand the moment any symptoms appear. professionally-skilled and capable, in her there is the tenderness of all women, of mother and sister and friend. her voice and touch lend encouragement, instill hope. it's the surgeon who saves a man's life. it's the nurse whose tender care helps him to live. ♪
11:51 am
the crisis passed, patients begin to sleep again. the pain is just a bad memory. the field hospital, a stopover to give them immediate surgical treatment as soon as possible after they were wounded, had done its job. ♪ the evacuation hospital was another stopover on the trip back through the medical chain. here, facilities for treatment were more complete than those in -- of the field hospital. and here too, the nurse played an increasingly important part in the vital period of treatment and convalescence. after three or four days, the patients were usually well enough for the trip back to the general hospital. ♪
11:52 am
trains waited for them. hospital wards on wheels. each train carried, in addition to medical officers and enlisted technicians, four surgical nurses and two medical nurses, all of whom were on duty from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and as far into the night as they were needed. when speed meant life, evacuation took place by plane. because of these flying hospitals, men are alive today who otherwise would have died in the jungles of burma or the beaches of normandy. each patient was thoroughly checked before takeoff, then --ched over, thoroughly
11:53 am
watched over constantly, then checked again when the plane landed. ♪ while in the air, the flight nurse was in complete charge, ready to handle every emergency and doing everything a doctor would have to do, except operate. air evacuation was difficult and required specialized skill and training. the flight nurse had to be prepared for the unexpected. for the next moment, it might have, and often did, happen. at the general hospital in the theater of operation, other skilled teams of surgeons and nurses stood ready to take over where the frontline hospitals left off. whether a hospital is under canvas out in the field or in a solid structure in a city, its routine, like the nurse's routine, doesn't very, and it's routine remains fixed.
11:54 am
to offer the best medical care to the sick and wounded. nurses sterilize the operating equipment. the surgical gowns and gloves. prepared drugs. laid out the instruments which the doctor needed for his next operation. and kept accurate records of each patient's history and progress. while in the civilian hospital the ratio is usually one nurse to every three beds. in an army hospital, it is always many times that number. to help lift the burden from the nurse's shoulders, enlisted technicians trained in special schools are assigned to work under her direct supervision. one of her biggest jobs is to teach these technicians, both in the classroom and in the hospital wards. this means added responsibility for the nurse. for although she has less personal contact with her patients, she has to direct the activities of the personnel assigned to her so that the treatment and well-being of her patients is assured. relaxation and entertainment are an important part of medical treatment. to this general hospital
11:55 am
overseas came an all-star show, and the army nurse shared the fun with her patients. to whom the sound of laughter from home often meant more than medicine. [applause] narrator: later on, she may have spent a few minutes with the star. and there were times when she herself was the star of the show, like this nurse, the first woman to land on bougainville. the umpire calls batter up, and the game is on, army versus army, as the nurses play the wax. ♪ this infield will never play in the polo grounds. but one of their patients might. [applause] off-duty for a while, some nurses strode through the streets and buildings of ancient cities. others preferred a round of golf.
11:56 am
or a swim somewhere, if the weather was right. then it was always back to duty, back to the sick and wounded, back to the hospital, around which the life of an army nurse revolves. those patients scheduled for a trip back home for the final period of convalescence travel on a hospital ship as fully equipped as a stationary hospital. now as before, the army nurse stands by, ready to minister to every need. ♪ next stop, a debarkation hospital. then, a general hospital in the united states and complete
11:57 am
recovery. and this is the end of the long chain of evacuation, the general hospital back home. here, the army nurse works patiently with her hands, her head, and her heart. here she gently guides men back to the way of life they fought to protect. although she might have volunteered to serve overseas, although she might chafe at what she considered the inactivity of working in a hospital in united states or alaska or panama, the army nurse soon learned that a battle line was wherever a soldier was stationed. what words of praise can measure up to these women, whose very lives are given to nursing sick and wounded men? a million sick and wounded men, back to life and health. and yet, praise is offered. long hours of tireless service were remembered and recognized. the army nurse, decorated for
11:58 am
bravery and valor, above and beyond the call of duty. and these nurses, imprisoned for three long years by the japanese, asked only that they be returned to duty, for they could never forget the faces of american men tortured and killed by the enemy. wherever transports took our soldiers, they also took the army nurse. to work by day, by night, on distant battlefields, to help make shattered bodies whole, to bring smiles to faces twisted with pain, to serve at the side of the american soldier during peace and war. this is the army nurse, usa, ready to serve anywhere under any circumstances in time of need. ♪ >> during the past four years,
11:59 am
57,000 graduates and registered nurses have served with the medical department of the army. for us, the war is not yet over. many nurses are still being sent to overseas theaters to care for american soldiers. these are replacements for nurses who served overseas during the war. and the war is not yet over for many of our patients. more than 300,000 patients are in army hospitals throughout this country. many of whom will be forced to remain there for a long time to come. these men are not asking for much. they have never asked for much. they are the most wonderful patients in the world. but the war has cost them much more than any of us have been asked to give. army nurses seldom ask for much either. but today, they are asking you to buy a bond.
12:00 pm
♪ ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span three. college flagler professor michael butler teaches a class about music in the post-civil rights era, highlighting james brown, george clinton, and others. he describes the 1970's african-american artists such as funk and soul, emphasized a black cultural identity in their music. flagler college provided this video. dr. butler: ok, guys, welcome to the latest lecture in history


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on