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We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of…

We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan… (edition 2000)

by Elizabeth M. Norman

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Title:We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese
Authors:Elizabeth M. Norman
Info:Atria (2000), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:WWII, Nurses, War

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We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese by Elizabeth M. Norman



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This book examines the war experiences of army and navy (and some national and civilian) nurses who were caught up in the Japanese capture of Bataan and Corregidor. Most of these women joined the service to seek adventure during a time when a woman's life in the states was quite regimented. And most had the glamour, excitement and pampering they sought. After the invasion, however, they were forced into horrific conditions. At one point they had to help build a hospital and much of the equipment from what could be found in the jungle. Without even enough beds, the prisoners were laid out on the ground as far as the eye could see. One nurse said it was like the scene from Gone With the Wind. Ultimately the nurses end up as prisoners of war for three years in steadily decreasing conditions. The author also shows us their lives after their return from war and the adjustments they needed to make, the long-term effects of their deprivations. These were ordinary women who rose to the challenge to care for their patients in the most horrific of situations, often during their own illnesses. It was an eye-opening look at a part of World War II I didn't know much about and an inspiring look at what women can achieve when they must. ( )
  LeslieHurd | Jan 11, 2017 |
Here, in letters, diaries, and riveting firsthand accounts, is the story of what really happened to the Army and Navy nurses during those dark days in Bataan.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Nov 1, 2016 |
This is an amazing book about a group of amazing women It is the story of the military nurses stationed in the Philippines at the beginning of WWII. As the war progressed, these women went from nursing under horrible conditions to being prisoners of war. In the words of the author, “A group of woman [sic] had gone off to paradise, had been swept up in war, had struggled to survive. As a group they had been my models, my exemplars – self-possessed women in a world dominated by men, professional women who kept to their protocols and practice in a place of starvation and disease and inane savagery, women who were both ordinary and sui-generis, as tough as they were tender, as stalwart as they were sincere.” We Band of Angels is, indeed, a fitting tribute to these women. Elizabeth Norman did an outstanding job of telling their story. I have no idea how she was able to pull so many sources (interviews, letters, articles, legal documents, and many more) together into such a readable book. Over her years of research, she also became close friends of several of the nurses, and was able to incorporate her own personal knowledge of them into the book. It obviously is a work of love. Everyone who has an interest in WWII – or nursing – or just in America - should read this book. ( )
  peggy.s | Jan 29, 2014 |
I received this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program.

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. 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. ( )
  BittyCornwell | Nov 17, 2013 |
This is the story of American nurses who became prisoners of war during WWII. The author has tracked down the remaining members of this group of women, and along with written accounts has pieced together their story so that it will not be lost. This is the story of a group of nurses who stuck together and continued to get the job done through bombings, evacuations, starvation, imprisonment and death. It is also the story of women at the front of battle for the first time as well as a military that didn't know how to handle them or value their experiences. There is very little documentation about the role of women in the military during World War II and this was a really interest addition. ( )
  caittilynn | Sep 21, 2013 |
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In the fall of 1941, while the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy secretly stockpiled tons of material and readied regiments of troops to attack American and European bases in the Pacific, the officers of General Douglas MacArthur's Far East Command in the Philippines pampered themselves with the sweet pleasures of colonial life.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671787187, Paperback)

"Found worms in my oatmeal this morning. I shouldn't have objected because they had been sterilized in the cooking and I was getting fresh meat with my breakfast.... I'm still losing weight and so are most of us..."

Ruth Marie Straub, an Army nurse, wrote those words in her diary on March 15, 1942, just over three months after the Japanese first bombed the U.S. military base in Manila. She and her colleagues had evacuated the city and established, in the Philippine jungle, hospitals for the skyrocketing numbers of casualties. In the face of the advancing Japanese Army, the nurses and other military personnel continued to retreat, first to the Bataan Peninsula, and then to Corregidor, a rocky island in Manila Bay. Straub was one of the lucky ones; she was evacuated with a handful of other nurses in April 1942. Her remaining colleagues, meanwhile, surrendered with the rest of the U.S. forces in May and were taken to STIC--Santo Tomas Internment Camp, where they were to spend nearly three years in captivity.

We Band of Angels tells the stories of these courageous women, tagged by the American media as "The Angels of Bataan and Corregidor." Utilizing a wide range of sources, including diaries, letters, and personal interviews with surviving "Angels," Elizabeth M. Norman has compiled a harrowing narrative about the experiences of these women--from the country-club atmosphere of prewar Manila; to the jungle hospitals where patients slept on bamboo cots in the open air; to the Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor, where they choked on dust and worked while the bombs rained down above them; to the STIC, where per-person rations were cut to 900 calories a day and the women resorted to frying weeds in cold cream for food. The story Nelson tells is compelling but slightly flawed: like many biographers, Nelson has a deep affection and respect for her subjects, which causes her to soften rough edges. At the same time, however, Nelson argues that these women were not heroes--nor were they angels (in the acknowledgments, Nelson notes that she didn't want the word angels in the title, but the publishers had their way). Perhaps because Nelson is a nurse herself, she is trying to stress that her profession is noble and that these women were, in a sense, just fulfilling their duties.

Nursing is noble, of course, but it is clear that these women were something special. Amazingly, all of the Angels of Bataan, some 99 in number, survived their ordeal--and clearly helped hundreds of the other sufferers survive. We Band of Angels deserves a space on the bookshelves of anyone interested in World War II. --C.B. Delaney

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:32 -0400)

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Celebrates the heroism of the Army and Navy nurses imprisoned for three years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

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