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Pennsylvania Gazette:
"Remarkable Record of Base Hospital No. 20"


The following article is quoted verbatim from The Pennsylvania Gazette, vol. 17 (May 9, 1919) pp. 729-733, available at the University Archives and Record Center, the University of Pennsylvania



Nurses of Base Hospital Number 20

Base Hospital No. 20, whose officers, nurses and enlisted men were recruited almost entirely from the University, has returned from France with a record which few similar organizations can equal. During the period of less than seven months that this hospital was operating it cared for a total of nine thousand patients. Of this number only sixty-five were lost. Of those who could not be saved quite a number were aviators who were rushed to the hospital following accidents, and in most cases lived but a few hours. While the officers of the unit modestly refrain from any mention of their achievements in saving lives and restoring sick and wounded men to health, the record made in this respect has been such as to call forth the warmest eulogies from medical and military men everywhere. From the time the unit was mobilized in this city until it was demobilized, efficiency, willingness to undertake any kind of hard work and endure any sort of sacrifices characterized every member.

The unit included twenty-two medical officers, two dentists, one chaplain, sixty-five nurses and one hundred and fifty-three enlisted men. They were mobilized on November 30, 1917, at the Armory, Thirty-second street and Lancaster avenue. More than one hundred of the enlisted men received training in the Philadelphia hospitals, where they served as orderlies in wards, operating rooms, laboratories, X-ray departments, etc. The nurses mobilized and received their military training at Ellis Island.

After many delays the unit sailed on the Leviathan April 24, 1918. They arrived at Brest on May 2 and were two days en route to Chatel Guyon, where the hospital was located. The unit took with it $100,000 in cash and $25,000 in special equipment.

The unit was no sooner on the scene than it was evident how big a task it had tackled. It was equipped to take care of a hospital of 250 patients, but it was found that the army authorities were delivering patients in trainloads of 450 each. To get ready for this number of patients required ingenuity on the part of the entire unit, but in less than a month the hospital was prepared and the first trainload of 400 patients was unloaded. More remarkable still, within an hour and a half every patient had been undressed and put to bed. For the most part, the patients came in by trainloads during the night and this record of speed and carefulness in unloading was maintained throughout.

Of the 9000 patients received, 4000 were surgical cases, 3500 medical and gas and 1500 specials. For the most part the patients were wounded men from the American army. There were a few from the French army, and the hospital also had to care for a goodly number of German wounded prisoners. After the hospital had been fairly well established it was selected to act as an observation hospital for tuberculosis suspects. The method of handling these cases in the army was for the patients to be examined in the regular hospitals. Those which were classes as doubtful were then sent to Base Hospital No. 20 for prolonged and expert examination. It was a tribute to the reputation of this hospital that it was designated for this work.

In addition to the splendid work of the unit in caring for the wounded and sick patients it made a record for being one of the very few base hospitals in the military zone to combat successfully the influenza epidemic. Due to the precautions taken by its officers there was no epidemic there. It is further to the credit of this unit that not a single member was lost during service in France. The only death was that of Private George P. Shepardson, who contracted diphtheria on the way over and died two days after the arrival in England.

The unit was located in various hotels in Chatel Guyon which is one of the health resorts of France. New buildings were continually added to the equipment until at the time of the armistice the hospital had thirty-three buildings, with a capacity for 2500 beds. All of the nursing was done by the original sixty-five nurses, who in addition took care of Camp Hospital No. 44.

Officers of Base Hospital Number 20

Shortly after the hospital began operations the great Allied drive started, in which American troops performed such valiant service. In answer to the call, special teams made up of surgeons, physicians, nurses and enlisted men were sent to various parts of the fighting front. Time after time they were under shell fire. One of the first such teams to see action was that commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Major Laws, Captain Goldsmith, Sergeant "Bert" Bell, Rufus Jones and Misses Marie Bergstresser and Helen Pratt. For their bravery under fire they were specially commended to General Pershing. Other surgical teams which went to the front were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Eliason, Major Laws, Major Musser and Captain Strode, the first three being surgical and the others medical. All of these teams distinguished themselves, most of them being cited for their brave conduct.

It was impossible, of course, for all the officers, nurses and enlisted men to go to the front, though all wished for the chance. Those who remained behind did magnificent service. This was particularly true of Lieutenant Colonel George Morris Piersol, who took charge of the hospital during the absence of Colonel Carnett. It was due largely to the foresight of Colonel Piersol and Major Musser that the hospital was saved the ravages of the influenza epidemic. Another noteworthy record of the unit was the fact that due to the splendid calibre of its members, there was not a single case of venereal disease. The only case recorded was that on an added member who was not in the original unit.

Colonel Carnett modestly declined to say anything about his own work, but he was outspoken in his praise and admiration of the other members of his staff, the nurses and the enlisted men. "I doubt if any base hospital in France was blessed with a better group of officers, nurses and enlisted men that we had," said Colonel Carnett. "They did everything that was expected of them and more Whether at the front or in the hospital they were always faithful and efficient. Whatever record we have made is due to them."

With one or two exceptions all of the officers received promotions while in service abroad. Those who were not advanced undoubtedly would have been had not the signing of the armistice ended the war suddenly. Three men who went abroad as majors and were made lieutenant colonels were Drs. Carnett, Piersol and Eliason, Drs. Baer, Keene, Willard, Laws, Bates, Musser, Zulick, Woods, Randall and Craiger were advanced from captain to major. Among the enlisted men who went over as privates, Samuel G. Stem was made a captain and James Dwyer, Randolph Pendleton and Randolph Adams were promoted to be lieutenants. The personnel of the unit follows:



Lieutenant Colonel John B. Carnett, '99 M., director.
Lieutenant Colonel George M. Piersol, '02 C., '05.
Lieutenant Colonel Eldredge L. Eliason, '05 M.

Major Benjamin F. Baer, '03 M.
Major Floyd E. Keene, '06 M.
Major DeForrest P. Willard, '08 M.
Major George M. Laws, '05 M.
Major William Bates, '15 M.
Major John H. Musser, Jr., '05 M.
Major Donald J. Zulick.
Major Alexander Randall.
Major Sherman M. Craiger.
Captain Thompson Edwards, '12 M.
Captain Richard J. Payne.
Captain Joseph C. Birdsall, '11 M.
Captain B. M. McIntyre, '11 M.
Captain B. D. Hopkinson, '12 M.
Captain F. K. Leavitt, '11 M.
Captain N. R. Goldsmith, '15 M.
Captain E. L. Clemens, '15 M.
Major Philip F. Williams, '09 M.
Captain George K. Strode, '12 M.
Lieutenant Frank P. K. Barker, '07 D.
Lieutenant John S. Owens, '07 D.
Chaplain Rogers Israel, Captain A. R. C.



Captain Samuel G. Stem.
Lieutenant James Dwyer.
Lieutenant Ralph Pendleton.
Lieutenant Randolph Adams.




Pettie, Nathaniel A. Shearer, Osco


Hagert, Henry S.
Kearney, George F.
Connor, Franklin G.
Dorizas, Michael M.
Owens, Matthew J. I.
Reisert, Charles H.
Heuer, Frederick H.
Thomlinson, Ralph
Bell, de Benneville
Dougherty, Joseph F.
Fox, Caleb F., Jr.
Casey, Herbert S.
Pendleton, Ralph A.
Waters, Joseph B.
Eliason, Hiram B.
May, Samuel B.


Adams, David H.A.
Swartz, Edward
Dwyer, James A.
Brenner, Fredk. C.
McConnell, Saml. P.
McMurtrie, Robt. F.
Richards, Theophelus
Elsasser, Albert R.


Davies, Evan E.
Gardiner, Frank D.
Johnson, Thomas J.
Love, John G.
McKeown, Frank J.
Whitford, Harry B.



Irwin, Edith B., Chief Nurse

Amack, Emma
Bidaux, Rose
Bidaux, Louise
Bidaux, Helen
Brothers, Viola
Bergstresses, Marie
Bartek, Anna
Buckwalter, Martha
Bretzler, Evelyn
Collins, Minnie
Coombs, Elizabeth
Croch, Anna
Clingman, Elizabeth
Conant, Lucille
Davies, Edith
Daley, Anna
Fairlamb, Mildred
Ferry, Nellie
Findlay, Elizabeth
Foster, Lillian
Gallagher, Letitia
Goff, Marie
Grenville, May
Hawkins, Anna
Heatley, Grace
Higgins, Susie
Hoover, Anna
Hume, Mary
Howard, Nell
Johnson, Lake
Jackson, Dell
Kegrice, Mary
Kehr, Sabina
Kregar, Migonne
Kullander, Lucy
Landis, Sabina
Laubenstein, Esther
Laidlow, Jessie
Louther, Margaret
Lyster, Mary
Morrison, Emma
MacMillan, Grace
McConnaughey, Grace
MacFetridge, Mary E.
Miller, M. Louise
Newman, Anna
Nell, Laura
O'Donnell, Katherine
Pratt, Helen
Parkinson, Nettie
Quigley, Catherine
Rockey, Edna
Schmoyer, Elizabeth
Shaw, Emily
Stewart, Mary
Stephen, Clara
Street, Clara
Walbert, Mary
Walsh, Mary
Weaver, Elizabeth
White, Hazel
Whittemore, Nellie
Williams, Florence
Wold, Bertha



Risser, Grace Renwick, DorothyRounsevell, Clare



This article and the two photographs are from the The Pennsylvania Gazette, vol. 17 (May 9, 1919) pp. 729-733, available at the University Archives and Record Center of the University of Pennsylvania