As World War II began, nearly 100 Navy and Army nurses were stationed in the Philippines, once a lush, desirable duty station and then abruptly one of the more dangerous places these young noncombatants could be.
Farrell shines a light on their devastating experiences. Japanese bombing of the Philippines followed almost immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack. With their position becoming untenable, U.S. forces withdrew to Bataan and the island fortress of Corregidor. Nurses, deeply engaged in caring for desperately wounded soldiers, were sent to Bataan. After living on near-starvation rations, the nurses on Bataan were evacuated to Corregidor just hours before the surrender that led to the Bataan Death March. A few were rescued from Corregidor before it too fell to enemy forces, on May 6. The remaining nurses were then imprisoned in harsh, soon horrific, conditions and not released until late winter of 1945. Primary source materials, especially the movingly matter-of-fact recollections of several of the nurses and personal snapshots, bring the story to life. Of particular interest is the almost cavalier disregard for their suffering that the nurses, their health ruined, faced upon release, since they were still not regarded as combatants.
A fine purchase for young-adult—and adult—World War II collections that illuminates a previously unexplored aspect of the war. (list of nurses, timeline and extensive endnotes) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)