Washington University School of Medicine Oral History Project

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Base Hospital 21 officers and nurses, London, England, May 1917
After members of Base Hospital 21 landed in Liverpool, the enlisted men were sent to Blackpool for training. The officers and nurses were sent to London for a two-week conditioning course on the medical tragedies of war. The officers and nurses were also invited to a number of receptions, teas, and theater performances. Chief Nurse Julia C. Stimson, in a letter to her family, described the experience: “If only I had the ability to write what we have seen and what we have felt. The contrasts have been so great some of us have almost lost our mental equilibrium. We are feted and cheered and taken from one entertainment to another and made much of by people of every class; and then between such social affairs we visit hospitals, military hospitals, because it is necessary for us to see how such hospitals are run. First we see 1,700 men, young men with faces or arms or legs blown off, and then we go to a tea at a fancy club; next we see 500 blinded men fighting their way back into normal life by learning various occupations, then we are taken in a body to the silliest musical comedy that was ever staged.”