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The Americans at Frenchay Hospital...

2nd Lt Virginia Binder


"I reported  to Fort Custer, near Battle Creek, Mich, on 16 May 1942, and was sworn into the United States Army Nurse Corps as a Second Lieutenant.

"Columbus day found us on a troop train on the way to an unknown destination. This turned out to be Camp Kilmer, NJ. There, after five days and nights of bare Army cots, haircuts, permanent waves, many phone calls, much rain and red mud, another train ride took us to the Port of New York. We boarded the SS Mariposa that evening. The next morning, on deck, we could only see a faint shadow of the New York skyline.

"Seven days of shipboard life brought us to Liverpool and an English train took us to a suburb of Birmingham. We were housed in empty rows houses built for workers for the British Ford Motor Co. From mid-November 1942 to 12 May 1944 we operated a hospital near Bristol, England, [Frenchay Hospital] and admitted over 9000 patients. Many of those patients were GIs who had been wounded in action in North Africa. We also cared for many British servicemen from the war in North Africa.

Virginia Binder, US Army Nurse at Frenchay

"D-Day plus 40, 16 July 1944, found us crossing the English Channel to Utah Beach and then on to Cherbourg, France. There we set up and operated at the French Naval Hospital. We were the first general hospital in operation on the continent after D-Day. Here we admitted 7718 patients.

"Another move was in store for us. So, on 29 Oct 1944, we moved by train to Liege, Belgium. When our tent hospital was completed we started accepting patients in mid-November. Here, closer to combat than most of us ever expected to be, we admitted 22,983 patients.

"During the Battle of the Bulge, only a few miles east, we often received patients right from combat. We worked night and day in surgery, doing mostly emergency repair work on our injured soldiers.

"'Buzz' bombs, or V-2 rockets, were a nearly every day and night hazard and we often 'hit the dirt' when one seemed to be 'spinning out' nearby. One morning in early January, one did come down about 50 yards from the nurses' tents. No one was hurt but a large crater was made in the barley field nearby."

Army Nurse Virginia Binder married one of patients. Raymond Binder was recovering from combat wounds when they met at Percy Jones General Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Mich.

After their 1948 marriage they had five children in five years. They are Peggy of Lovington; Patti, a medical doctor in Lawrenceville; Susan of Corvallis, Ore; Charles of Arthur, and Barbara of Sulphur, La.

Virginia has been a full-time homemaker for most of her married life. Raymond farms, but is now retired. They winter in Florida and have 8 grandchildren.

The photograph and text were included in a type-written booklet entitled "Frenchay Revisited 1942-1992"; and produced in 1992 by Lois White Monroe, American Red Cross, 298th General Hospital.