Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We Band Of Angels

This is the account of Navy nurses deployed to the Philippines during World War II. It seemed like an assignment in paradise, until December 8, 1941 when the Japanese began dropping bombs. The nurses served in a field hospital they set up in the Jungle of Bataan to care for the wounded soldiers. The nurses were sent to the tunnels of Corregidor when it became inevitable that the Army would be overrun. When Corregidor fell, the nurses were sent to an internment camp for Prisoners of War, where they would be kept until 1944.

The nurses served in deplorable conditions. They had to deal with bombs, starvation, imprisonment, diseases, lack of resources, and so much more. What was impressive to me was that even while they were starving and ill, they would report for duty to care for the sick and wounded soldiers and prisoners. To the point where they had to rest between changing bandages because they were so weak.

It is extraordinary that all seventy-seven of the captured nurses survived imprisonment. They would have lasting health problems from the starvation and diseases they suffered while imprisoned. After returning home, the women were at first celebrated, when needed for propaganda, then they and their achievements, were mostly forgotten. For example, I had no idea before reading this that one of the nurses became the most decorated woman in American military history.

I won this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program* I had heard good reviews about this book, and was eager to read about women deployed in the Philippines during World War II, as I didn't know anything about their service. The author uses a combination of first hand accounts, letters, and diaries to explain what happened to these women. The stunning courage of these women leaves you speechless.

I highly recommend reading this book. It is a moving account of service under the worst possible conditions. The nurses went beyond their duty when caring for their charges at great personal cost. Read this book to be reminded how humanity can succeed even at the worst moments. Even those that do not typically read history will be engrossed by this book.

*The Goodreads First Reads program does not require winners to give a review. Winners are encouraged to review the book, as the authors and publishers offering the books for free are trying to get the public interested in their book. If a review is given, it is not stipulated that it should be positive or negative, only an honest review.

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