Monday, March 11, 2019

Margaret White Speaks of Time Spent at Front Line Hospital During War, March 11, 1919

From the Monroe Journal, Union County, N.C., March 11, 1919

Brenizer Unit Returns. . . Miss White, Sister of Mrs. J.W. Glenn, Tells of Dangers Braved by These North Carolina and Massachusetts Nurses During Their 18 Months Service in France

Sixty-four nurses and 25 doctors of the staff of base hospital number 6, made up of Massachusetts general hospital unit and the Brenizer unit of Charlotte arrived Sunday evening at Hoboken. They were all under the command of Lt. Col. Addison Brenizer.

Miss Margaret White of Charlotte, a sister of Mrs. J.W. Glenn, who was with this organization during their 18 months service overseas, will arrive tonight to spend some time in Monroe. Miss White with other nurses will probably receive decorations from the French government for bravery under shell fire. Sunday’s Charlotte News contained an account of an interview between Miss White and a News representative in New York which we quote as follows:

‘Some of her brave and devoted band of women are to receive recognition from the French government, this fact becoming known 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, indicated 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.

“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 4,319 patients in their hospital.
“’It was originally planned as a 1,000-bed hospital,’ she said, ‘but as the demands for hospital accommodations increased they kept expanding until we had 5,000 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, will you not relate some of your own experience, Miss White?’ queried the News correspondent.

“’Really,’ she said smilingly, after considerably 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 very busy trying to ease the pain and save the lives of our brave 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. “’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 doughboys would put courage into any heart. Torn and bleeding, they never whimpered—never a complaint from them. Tell the folks of New England that they have every 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 care and get back to the front 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 with never a change of clothing—uniforms always wet and wetter blankets and tents in which to sleep when chance there came 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 every other nurse. It was worth while—worth while to do our bit. If I had missed it! Why it hurts me to think that I might not have been there to stand up to 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.


The following list of personnel in the hospital unit is from a blog on New Hampshire History. He’s a link to the story, which includes photographs. The nurses were nicknamed the Bordeaux Belles. 

A list of personnel of the hospital unit includes:

Lieut. Col. Addison G. Brenizer, Charlotte, N.C.
Maj. Roger Kinnicutt, Worcester, Mass.

Maj. Robert F. Leinbach, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Maj. James H. Means, Boston, Mass.

Maj. Adelbert S. Merrill, Hudson, Mass.
Lieut. Col. William L. Moss, Athens, Ga.

Maj. Everard L. Oliver, Boston, Mass.
Maj. Richard F. O’Neill, Boston, Mass.

Maj. Berth Vincent, Fort Dodge, Ia.
Capt. William Allan, Charlotte, N.C.

Capt. Ralph A. Hatch, Brookline, Mass.
Capt. William Hunter, Charlotte, N.C.

Capt. Frederick C. Irving, Boston, Mass.
Capt. Henry C. Marble, 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

Capt. James M. Davis, Hiddenite, N.C.
Lieut. William N. Gullifock, Belmont, Mass.

Lieut. R.P. Heard, Pasadena, Calif.
2nd Lieut. Gustave W. Everberg, Boston Mass.


Chief Nurse, Sara E. Parsons, Oxford Mass.

Johnsie Aldridge, Hillsboro, N.C.
Angeline B. Bagley, Southboro, Mass.

Carrie T. Banta, Binghamton, N.Y.
Mildred H. Banta, Syracuse, N.Y.

Maude G. Barton, Newton Center, Mass.
Sarah Brook, Princeton, N.J.

Catherine F. Carlton, East Sandwich, Mass.
Julia Colson, Union, S.C.

Catherine A. Conrick, Westbrook, Mass.
Bernadette Cormier, Caraquit, N.B.

May Coulson, Buffalo, N.Y.
Gertrude Delaney, Youngstown, Ohio

Lena A. De Rusha, South Weymouth, Mass.
Isabelle A. Dewar, Boston, Mass.

Mary A. Diamond, North Easton, Mass.
Mary A. Driscoll, Fitchburg, Mass.

Gertrude V. Eastman, Huntington, Mass.
Caroline B. Emery, Winthrop, Mass.

Leonora Field, Oxford, New Hampshire
Anna H. Gardiner, Martinsburg, West Va.

Sarah Harris, Concord, N.C.
Ella E. Havens, Cambridge, Mass.

Edna M. Hill, High Point, N.C.
Elizabeth Fell, Statesville, N.C.

Cora M. Hypes, Columbus, Ohio
Clara M. Hyson, Indiana Point, N.S.

Ada C. Ikard, Newton, N.C.
Nellie M. Irving, Framingham, Mass.

Martha E. Jones, Fayetteville, N.C.
Helen K. Judd, Southampton, Mass.

Pergrousie Kavaljian, South Boston, Mass.
Mayi R. Kelly, Dorchester, Mass.

Frances C. Ladd, Beachmont, Mass.
Lulu Lambeth, Thomasville, N.C.

Lodovine Le Moyne, Clarke, South Dakota
Blanche J. Leonard, Lincolnton, N.C.

Ann L. Lovejoy, Glen Ridge, N.J.
Margaret C. Marr, Boston, Mass.

Eva Marryatt, New London, Conn.
Glee Marshall, Colebrook, N.H.

Margaret Matheson, Provincetown, Mass.
Harriet L. McCoy, Charlotte, N.C.

Hannah C. McEwan, River Edge, N.J.
Mary J. McKay, Trenton, N.J.

Barbara E. McLeod, Everett, Mass.
Sue J. Moore, Rock Hill, S.C.

Frances A. Morton, Mars Hill, Maine
Josephine A. Mulville, Wellesley, Mass.

Helen T. Nivision, Gardiner, Maine
Olga Olson, Concord, Mass.

Alice G. O’Gorman, Boston, Mass.
Gladys I. Perkins, Lawrence, Mass.

Margaret G. Reilly, Brockton, Mass.
Edna L. Ricker, North Conway, N.H.

Annie M. Robertson, Montreal, Canada
Mae G. Rodger, Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Hope F. Romani, Milford, N.H.
Laura Sanborn, Contoocook, N.H.

Macie M. Stanford, Charlotte, N.C.
Dorothy M. Tarbox, West Point, Maine

Mary Towle, Blinger, Okla.
Lillian B. Towner, Dedham, Mass.

Alice M. Townsend, Worcester, Mass.
Rosella Travers, North Easton, Mass.

Eva S. Waldron, New Bedford Mass.
Mary A. Walsh, Pittsfield, Mass.

Margaret E. White, Monroe, N.C.

Ruth E. Williams, Ogdensburg, N.Y.

List of names from:

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