Updated July 2019
Redmond, Juanita. I Served on Bataan. Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1943.
After serving over 3 years as an army nurse in Arkansas, Juanita was transferred in June 1940 to the Philippines. Dec. 8, 1941, the Japanese bombed Manila, and the military soon evacuated medical personnel to Bataan. For four months the army nurses worked in Limay, where the hospital functioned as well as it could while being attacked often by the enemy. A few abandoned barracks and small buildings were used at first to assemble what was dubbed Hospital #1, when another group of medical staff, and many patients, arrived at what became Hospital #2. Forced to move to another jungle location, they barely left before the Limay hospital was bombed. Hundreds of patients continued to be brought in, including Japanese prisoners.
The author’s descriptions of working in these conditions, and with these wounded patients, makes up the bulk of this uniquely interesting book.
In April 1942, as the Japanese closed in on Bataan, the nurses were ordered to evacuate to Corregidor, leaving the many wounded patients behind. Juanita relates the feelings of the nurses who had to say goodbye to their medical staffs and the wounded left on Bataan.
Again the nurses joined with others in treating the hundreds of patients in the Malinta Tunnel hospital. Soon Juanita and several other nurses were selected to be evacuated by plane to Australia, and she returned to the States.
Left behind were her sister army and navy nurses who lived the next 2 years in Japanese prison camps. The publication date of Juanita’s book is 1943, which indicates that this may have partly been a book written to help raise money for war bonds as she made appearances for that purpose. But, the story she writes is very moving, telling of the horrors of trying to work in the jungle hospital of Bataan under war circumstances.
Other nurses have recorded their own experiences that are similar to Juanita Redmond’s, including Warrior In White, by Lucy Wilson Jopling. Lucy was also evacuated from the Malinta Tunnel, but by submarine. The Spearfish took 12 nurses to Australia, and from there Lucy continued on to the States. Lucy then became a flight nurse, spending the rest of the war serving in the Pacific, and earned an Air Medal for her service. When the war ended she was reunited with her fiancé, who had survived the Bataan Death March and years of horrible experience as a prisoner of the Japanese. The difference between these two books is the time they were written, one during the war when the experience is very fresh, and the other in 1990 after life has moved on and the tale is told from memories. Hortense McKay was another nurse evacuated by submarine, who returned later to the wounded at Leyte. Jungle Angel: Bataan Remembered is her story written by Maxine Russell.
Other highly recommended books written by and about army and navy nurses who were in the Philippines in 1941 are:
To The Angels by Denny Williams – Army POW
What A Way To Spend A War by Dorothy Still Danner – Navy POW
Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan (Army POW) by Melissa Bowersock (Gates’ niece)
Angel of Bataan – Alice Zwicker (Army POW) by Walter M. Macdougall
An Angel’s Illustrated Journal by Floramund Fellmeth Difford (Army nurse)
Pure Grit by Mary Cronk Farrell
All This Hell by Evelyn Monahan & Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
We Band Of Angels by Elizabeth Norman
These books, and several others that include nurses who were in the Philippines in 1941, are listed on this blog’s WWII Nurse Books page. They are mostly out-of-print but available through the Interlibrary Loan Dept. of most university and public libraries, as well as online used-book dealers.