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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Diary of Bernice B. McCormack, 1942-1944

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Object ID: WV0161.3.001

Description:

Bernice McCormack served as a nurse in the Army Nurse Corps during the Second World War. She was stationed in West and North Africa during the conclusion of the Allied North African Campaign. The diary spans the period from December 5, 1942 to May 5, 1944.

The diary primarily documents McCormack’s day to day activities during the war. It contains a detailed account of an eventful naval voyage from Charleston, South Carolina to Dakar, Senegal; it details the difficulties encountered by army nurses operating in Africa; provides descriptions of McCormack’s battles with malaria and other tropical diseases; and gives an account of McCormack’s transfer to Cairo, Egypt. Additionally, McCormack’s dairy gives detailed descriptions of various African cities, Germany’s surrender in Africa, and a trip to Jerusalem.

Creator: Bernice Bauks Williams McCormack

Biographical Info: Bernice Bauks McCormack (1914-2007) of Marlboro, Massachusetts, was stationed in Africa while serving with the Army Nurse Corps during World War II.

Collection: Bernice B. McCormack Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Dec[ember] 5, 1942       

Left happy memories, friends and comforts of Fort Getty [Rhode Island] and Fort Adams [Rhode Island].

Dec[ember] 6, 1942       

Arrived in Charleston, So[uth] Carolina, Staging Area No 2. Real army life, in preparation for overseas. Exercises, drills, hikes, lectures and getting equipment in order for the months to follow. Supposedly Africa. Certainly am lonesome for home—a poor soldier.

Dec[ember] 12, 1942     

Received first mail.

Dec[ember] 15, 1942 — 3 P.M.    3 P.M.  

Officially alerted. Will be going soon. My heart and thoughts are very far away from this army. Nothing can be done. Saw a very good picture "on "Why we are at war." Gave me more courage to go on.

Dec[ember] 17, 1942     

Met two officers who have been 18 mo[nth]s at the Caribbean. Most interesting. Here for 30 days leave. Our foot lockers are leaving us in the morning. Time is short.

Dec[ember] 20, 1942     

Left Charleston, Port of Embarkation at noon. Arrived to dock by army buses. Left Charleston 3 PM. Boat seems to be a nice one. Four girls in each stateroom—private latrine. Beautiful sunset. Do not feel too lonesome as am much to[o] busy and everything is so new and exciting. Saw Charleston from the water also Ft. Sumter. We shall leave the harbor at 9:30 PM. May God watch over us for a safe landing.

Dec[ember] 23, 1942     

In Cuba. First day I felt like doing anything. Shall never take another boat ride after the war. Lazy life and getting warmer every day. Slept on deck.

Dec[ember] 24, 1942     

What a wonderful Christmas surprise. All the officers went off the boat to the naval officers club at Guantanamo Canal. What a beautiful club what naval officers—some Canadians too dressed in white shorts. Abe went to the U.S.O. 5pm [unclear] for the sailors. What a beautiful sight—open theater—thousands of sailors dressed in white and the moon shining (full) plus the warm weather and palm trees. The singer sang "Night and Day." At the Stage Door Canteen "My favorite [marked out]. However in spite of sentiments it was heavenly to get off the boat for a few hours and enjoy the dry land! Will never forget it after three days of water and feeling seasick too. Got there at noon and left

Dec[ember]  24, 1942 7:45 A.M.                

Here’s hoping the remainder of the trip will be as successful with God’s help.

Dec[ember] 25, 1942     

Christmas day! Sure doesn’t seem like it, so hot and on a boat. Had a nice prayer service in the Recreation Rm. The room is decorated lovely and a real Christmas tree. [marked out] Have many more weeks to go.

Dec[ember] 27, 1942     

Went on shore once again in Trinidad—Part of Spain. What a quaint village—colored people. Visited Officers Club and beautiful Country Club. Had a lovely time. Everything certainly is strange—Sunday too—had prayers in boat, which helps a great deal.

Dec[ember] 30, 1942     

Nothing unusual. First rainy day! Seems good to see rain. Have showers every clear day. Still feel sick when rough. Col. Jones is sure nice to me and how he spoils me. Can't seem to get used to hot weather. Have the phonograph on deck which is nice. Saw a transport boat with a huge hole thru the bottom due to a torpedo—will sleep on deck here after. No convoy since leaving Trinidad though we are going 20 knots.

Jan[uary]  1, 1943            

Had New Years U.S.O. party [unclear] talent among officers—very funny. Went to bed early. Had prayers at 9 a.m. and nice duck dinner—otherwise no change.

Jan[uary]  2, 1943            

Sighted enemy sub—what a scare. Thank God nothing happened.

Jan[uary]  3, 1943            

Am learning how to play contract Bridge. Col. Jones has been more than kind to me. Many ill from dysentery—my case is mild.

Jan[uary]  7, 1943            

Arrived at the Ascension Island—or Goat Island early in the morning. Peculiar looking place—no trees or shrubs. Governor[?] and his wife and daughter plus 600 people. Otherwise soldiers. English island. Expect to stay here for several days to unload cargo. Sent a letter to Paul. Col[onel] Jones had wrong ideas—so shall see. 3 hrs. diff[erence] in time—ahead.

Jan[uary]  8, 1943            

Went ashore this P.M. with Col. Jones to tour island just mentioned (Ascension). Never saw such an interesting island and so barren and desolate. Had a hard time getting into launch due to undertow also on landing, was pulled up by net and pulley that is used for cargo—very thrilling. Poor soldiers had not seen an American girl for 10 mo[nth]s. All live in tents—trade winds—water distilled and rationed.—no vegetation, one palm tree—higher on one mountain banana trees, trees, beautiful flowers, [unclear] and a normal existence for an English farmer. Poor soldiers have it tough. Only two of us nurses went ashore which sure was a treat. Rode in the C[ommanding] O[fficer] Col. Balwins’s jeep—dusty. Second American woman to set foot on island. Some of the officers came aboard today to join in the dancing which we had on deck—victrola. Sent 2 letters—home and Paul. Col[onel] Jones censored one—unknown. Had a lovely real dinner (per Col. Jones invite) 6 of us (3 nurses) saw real huge tuna fish caught by our mates also dolphins. What huge fish—tastes good. Fishing is a great sport here. Could go on and on, but hope to remember.

Jan[uary]  9, 1943            

Left Ascensions 2:15 P.M. Had fun watching and talking to boys around the ship in their boats. Received commission. Seemed so good. Priest from island.

Jan[uary]  10, 1943          

Feel the lonesomest [sic] today. Sunday had services and now will write to Paul. Trying hard to get way from Col. J. aye. Expect to get to Africa Wed.

Jan[uary]  11, 1943          

Nice cool day! Lost my Rosary beads, feel so lost without them. Have [posters?] to the effect—getting packed to get off tomorrow. Learning how to play contract. May God be with us for a safe return home. Am saying the "[illegible]" every day and Paul’s and my prayer to return to the states within one year.

Jan[uary]  12, 1943          

Arrived in Africa 1 P.M. Home was never like this—but will have to do for some time. Saw natives (very black) begging for money and cigarettes. How babyish they are. Staying on ship until 9 AM. Played contract—doing better each time. Disgusted with the army and people in general. How I would love to be home and this was a dream—but do thank God I arrived safely. Now what! Cannot see much from the ship—just boats around. All are very depressed, including yours truly.

Jan[uary]  13, 1943          

Remained another night on good ship "Mexico" due to transportation—did not want us to ride in trucks. Had quiet day. Watched natives.

January 14, 1943              

Left ship (it was a lucky and good one) at 8 A.M. in beach wagons. (rather shop worn ones) 165 miles to Ac[c]ra [Ghana] from Tacaradi [sic—Takoradi] (where boat was) took 8 hrs. Roads rough but tar and fairly good. Saw all native villages every 2-5 miles—stopped—the drivers (soldiers) bought us coconuts (drank milk for first time—good) bananas too. Saw banana and coconut trees. Natives live in circle thatched homes or made of dirt—reddish—the odor terrific—very unsanitary. Mothers carrying babies on backs, nursing them—nude boys—speak good English—go to school. All beg. Some wear tattered shorts—others material draped in gaudy colors. Very friendly. Nice teeth—all bare footed—flat feet. Arrived here all tired. Beautiful nurses quarters—modern. Betty Reed my roommate. This is only temporary—too good to be true. Building cement in wings, all screened from mosquitoes. Malaria prevalent. Taking Quinine, wear (to thighs) boots after 5 PM. Thrilled beyond words to receive mail awaiting us. 30 letters—from everyone and Xmas cards. Beautiful card from Paul also a snap in suntan uniform. Am very tired in spite of [unclear] and plentitude of officer air[?]—and others am going to bed. Sissy! Too much in one day, not on duty tomorrow. Head nurse lovely. We will be here until our quarters are completed at Dakar (against rules to write location).

January 15, 1943              

Taking life easy. Unpacking. Here a native boy to each room—does our personal laundry, shine shoes, makes our bed and gets it ready for night. Will I be spoiled [illegible] (tip) 3 shillings per week. (4.60) Do little very well. Went to beach with 3 officers Dot & Alice. Were the men rough! The surf terrific—very bitter. Many natives around and many boys nude. One said "Miss you are beautiful." All begging for cigarettes. Women selling fruit. To movies with same group—open air in the eve. We wear hip leather boots—sure look funny. Then went to beach under the palm trees. Enjoyed the conversation [only?]. In (have to be) at 11:30.  

January 16, 1943              

Social life terrific! So many wolves! Sure hate to be [?]ed at. Went to English Country Club in eve. Met many interesting English officers! Tough dancing in boots! All men trying to grab you for a dance! Was exhausted.

January 17, 1943              

On duty. C.Q. of quarters in P.M. Answered phone and callers. Mother here with beautiful child on way to Calif[ornia]. She and her husband are missionaries—he a doctor (now in the service, she a nurse) helped her. Wrote many letters! Tired of so many men—will be choosy. Only one in tonight—am too tired. The English officer stopped by to ask me out for a drink. Don’t drink and was on duty. Nice chap. Gee I sure feel lonesome for Paul tonight.

Jan[uary]  18, 1943          

Still C.Q. Same job to keep quarters in order—get tired easily. Went to quail (wild) dinner with group at English Club. What dry unappetizing food. Leave it to the English to be so restricted as they are in their gatherings.

Jan[uary]  19, 1943          

Killed (Col did it) bat in room—also funny bugs. Nurse stopping here en route to States with 5 patients from India. Most interesting. Having party for us tonight. Reception room very beautiful. No mail from Paul. Letters from home.

Jan[uary]  20, 1943          

To Accra in P.M. Saw plenty of natives—strange stores and open markets. Saw gold smiths making jewelry. Did not buy anything. First went to Finance for Per Diem—got it in English money. Took pictures of our house boys and a little girl of 6 yrs old nude but for beaded covering and a little nude boy. Did they run as I tried a candid shot—had to ask permission. Full room tonight. How I wished I were at [unclear].n as I tried a candid shot. Had to ask permission. Full room tonight. How I wished I were at [unclear].

Jan[uary]  21, 1943          

Went on duty for first time. Special[?] boy with rash, cause unknown. Boy from Tenn. Went to R.A.F. affair at Mess Hall. Lovely building. Met some very interesting people. So[uth] African test pilot. English, Canadians—some have been to the states. They were most kind and perfect hosts. Danced—Talked and had fun.

Jan[uary]  22, 1943          

Get tired easily—hope to get adjusted. Nothing unusual. To movies—met Texan chap.

Jan[uary]  23, 1943          

To Accra Club with group. Native band played popular songs. "Little Sis Echo," etc. [unclear]. Native men watching us dance.

Jan[uary]  24, 1943          

Thundering and lightning today. Seems strange to have showers out here—nice rain. Rode around Accra and saw a few sights. Natives washing themselves on the streets so as not to miss anything.

Jan[uary]  26, 1943          

To Accra shopping. What fun Jewing the natives down. Bought novelties at open store. Gold Coast book from Methodist Depot. Sun helmet and brass trinkets. Took pictures. Rode home in jeep. Went shopping with two officers.

Jan[uary]  28, 1943          

Saw Kay Francis in the bathroom. She is very natural and rather snooty. To the beach after. Seems strange here in this part of Africa with no real action going on. Beautiful large airport and many notables stop here on the way to the states.

Jan[uary]  29, 1943          

To Beach party in the evening with a group. Beautiful to watch and hear the water. The palm trees and being so warm. The natives built a fire and took care of the food. Had canned frankfurters, rolls, etc. They did not taste very good and longed for real American hot dogs. Joe Harlan, being a courrier returned to the states this A.M. going [unclear] tomorrow with four offices! No mail for 9 days now.

Jan[uary]  31, 1943          

Staying in for a change. Enjoy going to bed early. Went shopping in an Indian run store—got a beautiful black velvet fancy evening bag—also pillow case. Very lovely things.

Feb[ruary] 2, 1943          

Having female war correspondent stop here tonight.

Feb[ruary] 3, 1943          

Had supper with Margaret Bourke-White, the only female war correspondent. She had been on the front taking shots for Life. Wears officers pinks and is noted as 2nd Lt. What a charming and lovely person.

Feb[ruary] 4, 1943          

Had a date with an English Captain—Thom Anderson. He had a junk of a car—and little petrol which was a break as it sure was an uncertain ride. Went to his thatched house—lizards and bugs around. Not too bad. Was halted by the African soldiers—guards and it sure is scary at night for one cannot see them only hear the "Halt! Who dat! Foe or friend" and they mean business. Bought a few brass pieces—paid too much.

Feb[ruary] 6, 1943          

Jane Delunka's boyfriend, Gil, stopped here en route. What a thrill for her and all of us. Most anything can happen! Went to Rex Theatre—very lovely—had dinner at Accra Club. Watched natives dance—formal, wearing gowns and tuxes at King George Club. Real jive dancing. Also the soldiers dance with the natives. To me seemed terrible. Spent evening with a British Captain teaching him American way—he has good technique! Men will be men!

Feb[ruary] 10, 1943        

Same routine. Charge of Quarters. Dates and fun. Thom Anderson came to call on a bic[ycle?]. Did I laugh! No mail from home. Am very concerned as to Paul, have not heard from him since Xmas. Wonder what is wrong. How I long to hear from him and home.

Feb[ruary] 13, 1943        

At last a beautiful long letter from Paul. Made me feel very good. He is trying for O.C.S. Hope he makes it. Same routine.

Feb[ruary] 14, 1943        

To English Dance at King George Club. Had tables on lawn. Danced Palais Glide, Stop it and Paul Jones. Went with Thom. Had so much fun. Bought some beautiful material for nighties. Still C.Q.

Feb[ruary] 18, 1943        

Had a heavy nice rain storm which left everything so fresh and clean. Still seeing Thom. Had dinner at his "Gitta" (house) last night also enjoyed the radio. Had fresh vegetable salad too. Good. Came for me in large truck and sure am teased about his vehicles. The English have so little left. Take it well.

Feb[ruary] 20, 1943        

Met Mrs. Cua Lee of Chinese Embassy. Very lovely person. Nothing unusual.

Feb[ruary] 24[, 1943]                     

Met a Miss Wells who has spent 21 yrs in Africa at Belgium Congo on the Equator. Missionary teacher. Very lovely person. Am to hear J.[sic H.] V. Kaltenborn the radio commentator at the theater tonight—in person. Thrilled. Going out dates—nothing appealing. Thom is nice and interesting. Received a great deal of mail from home this week. Having fun at the beach. Had fried chicken prepared by Alexas, a native in a hut. Good—three [girls?] and several [unclear]. Had onion & tomato salad. Eating bananas and pineapples—which are delicious often.

Feb[ruary] 25[, 1943]                     

To Achimota College. Most interesting. Have scholarship for Oxford & Cambridge. Girl students dressed in green dresses. Handcraft. English, drawing, math, etc. Met lovely English teacher also Vice Pres. Went with Miss Wells.

Feb[ruary] 26[, 1943]                     

To Christ[ia]nborg Castle where governor lives. Slaves were kept in dungeon to be sold. Beautiful huge cement building (1790) overlooking the ocean. Lovely birds and garden. Guide took us thru gaily dressed. Joe Harlen is back to Accra after a month. So good to see him. Had to break two dates—what [unclear]. Major Boyd our C.O. arrived from Dakar and we expect to go there soon. Feel bad about breaking date with Thom.

Feb[ruary] 28[, 1943]                     

Paul’s picture came today. A beautiful one and a lovely card. Very sweet of him. Am so busy between Tom & Joe. Very complicated. Tom is so suspicious. Brought over some green vegetables. We were unable to eat the lettuce due to dysentery susceptibility. Also received "Tommy" a sweet black & white panda from Paul.

March 1[, 1943]

First plane trip in 4 months. Very thrilling.

March 5[, 1943]

Our orders came to go to Dakar. It will be sad for some. Will miss Tom Anderson otherwise it does not matter of the transfer. Met Martha Raye. She is so genuine—a Capt. Cute too. Good sport and very sociable. She is staying at Nurses Qts. Has a cute puppy dog. Died a few days later.

March 7[, 1943]

Took off in a plane B-52. The only plush seated one left in Africa. Very nice smooth trip. Left at 7 a.m. arrived at Roberts Field, Liberia at 11:30. Left [unclear] 2 got here at 6:30 P.M. Were royally received at Roberts Field. First American girls to land there. Had chicken dinner. Met some officers we knew on boat. Had dinner here—C rations then to bed due to sinus. Very cold in evening.

March 8[, 1943]

My birthday. Eileen’s too. Betty gave me a perfume bottle. Very kind of her. The hospital is a beautiful old pink structure looks like a convent—French style. Our quarters is a barrack just beyond. We have so little here. No mirrors. No drinking water. My job is to "put it right" It will be fun.

March 9[, 1943]

Busy getting the barracks home like. The girls are busy with their sleeves rolled up to get the filthy place clean. Flies are terrible. So is the sand. Real cold here. Need 2 blankets at night.

March 10[, 1943]             

Now we have a car for us, with a French chauffeur. Really need to speak French here.

March 11[, 1943]             

Met some very nice boys 41st Engrs on a boat. Had beautiful 6 course dinner. French style. Got acquainted with an officer from Wisconsin. Nice chap.

March 12[, 1943]             

Danced on the boat by an American colored, soldiers band. Real good one. Beautiful by the moonlight. So many officers, they kept cutting in. Had a wonderful time.

March 13[, 1943]             

Received my first mail here [letter from Paul and home]. Went to the boat again for dinner. Received a beautiful bottle of perfume.

March 14[, 1943]             

The village so interesting. Native section so poor and odoriferous. Saw a camel [unclear]—poor raggedy people. Sleep anywhere in the open. The French section is beautiful. [Fancy modernist?] buildings by the shore. Most natives ride around in a two wheel cart. Rubber tires, with skinny horses pulling them. The horses are always galloping. The French ride around in bikes or cars run by charcoal.

March 15[, 1943]             

The quarters is beginning to look more home like. Have a kerosene ice box. No mirrors. No glasses.

March 22[, 1943]             

On night duty for 2 weeks. Seems good to be with the boys, it is much more fun than staying at the quarters. Very lonesome here. [Do hope Joe Harlan will get here soon.]

March 24[, 1943]             

Took, a walk in the native village. Many Arabs. Some kneeling in prayer. The market full of "junk" and very odoriferous. Have a pilot whose plane crashed up in the desert and was there for 15 days. A camel caravan took him to the village. Hear that Tunisia will be over. Victory in a few days. Wonder when we shall go home!

April 6, 1943       

Have been on night duty for two weeks. Rather dread the boredom of the quarters and ailing females. Had great deal of fun in the sick & wounded office with Corp. J. Welheim and Sgt J. Felty. Bought an amber necklace $8, 400 francs, also 2 ivory napkin rings. Both very nice. For Mr. & Mrs. I hope some day. Wonder who it will be! Had not heard from Paul for a month and was almost sure some other girl stepped in. Today a lovely letter arrived and Paul still loves me. Also birthday cards from the girls. Sent a comic magazine Superman to Tom. The English do not know the fantastic man. Mr. Benson, an English consul was a patient. Was a nice and interesting person. Speaks 9 languages. He claims the Germans will be licked within a year. Hope so. Inez Robb stayed at the quarters—female correspondent. Slept in my bed. She is beautiful. Guns have been booming lately. 3 days and nights. Rumors of a British ship being attacked by Germans. This is a vulnerable spot!

April 20, 1943    

Things are quiet here. Busy sewing for the hospital and the boys. Making pink checkered bed bags, tablecloths, napkins. Our room is the prettiest—very girlish and gay. Getting along slowly with French classes. Fun to shop. Sent Paul boa constrictor snake skin billfold. Very crude but nice. Hope he likes it. Also bought a few for home. Very smelly. Very nice letters from Paul these days and often. What a good guy! Go to the movies often [unclear] the hospital. C’est le guerre [that’s war].

April 27, 1943    

Things are very quiet here. Am busy making curtains etc with the borrowed electric sewing machine. Went to William Fonty school—about 30 miles from here—beyond Rufisque—native. Were honored guests. 2 air officers with [Willy?] and yours truly. Very unique and interesting. Skits, songs, and dances of their native tribes. Lasted too long. 4 ½ hrs. American flag was on side of the stage, the French on the other—open air. The people all stood up as we entered and cheered "Americains" it was very thrilling. Received a nice letter from Tom Anderson. He has sent an ivory necklace also sporting magazine from England. Am anxious to see it. Dot Keys is chief nurse of the large unit in India. Would love to be with her.

May 1[, 1943]                    

Most embarrassed—in the "Bonjour" our weekly paper "Ann Allen" our Walter Winchell had something about my "ship's romance has been busted with the inquiry of Sherman and Joe" Meaning Col. Jones. What a riding I took.

So much squabbling about the tidiness of rooms. Am very unpopular at present as the girls feel I‘m too friendly with our chief nurse—which is not so—neither do I ever intend to tell on the girls. Their business is their own! Have all I can do to keep things [unclear].

May 11, 1943     

Was a patient in hospital for four days. Took [unclear] capsules for amoebic dysentery which caused severe after effects. Had loads of fun as the boys were in constantly. They petitioned a section of the ward for a 2 bed room for the nurses. Very nice. Had to guard latrine while we used it. Allowed to the movies in the evening. Saw "Yankee Doodle Dandy" once more. Now having Hershey bars, Baby Ruth, [unclear], Planters peanuts. Rationed 2 bars to a person, 2 cookies, 1 peanut jar. Best thing that has happened for a long time...an engineer 1st Lt met here of the 41st Engrs. My what seriousness. Poor lonesome boy.

May 15, 1943     

Attended a military funeral, first time. Ned Malory killed in a P-40 at Rufisque—smashed to pieces. Out with him and another fellow night before with Willy. It was very impressive and sad. Had funeral services at chapel at air base. Several French officers attended and a British navy man—many native French soldiers. Buried in Dakar at French cemetery. Guns were fired three times—and Taps while the casket was lowered. He was only 23. Had many friends. It all was very sad.

War ended in Africa. The Germans surrendered. Happy day. What now! Drove a Chev[rolet] car for the first time since leaving. Its seems grand. The nurses are not allowed to drive, as per order of Major Boyd. since leaving. Its seems grand. The nurses are not allowed to drive, as per order of Major Boyd.

June 2, 1943      

Nothing very unusual. Getting very hot. Wearing mosquito boots once more also helmets during the day. Have had several trying "unpleasant" experiences with officers. Learned my lesson. Should stay in nights from now on. [Paul was sure right when he gave our "pep" talks. Have not heard from Paul for 6 weeks. Cannot imagine waht is wrong. Really worried.]

Alice Lynn is very ill once more. Hospital very busy. Have asked for ward work. Tired and bored stiff of this C.Q. business. No need [of it?] our chief has been ill, mostly "nervous." My opinion—too much indulging. Go to the beach often. Have loads of fun with the boys and John Felty. Very nice chap! A Sgt. Oh Oh.

June 25, 1943    

Out of hospital today. In as patient 15 days with iritis[?]. Had typhoid injections. Fever therapy. Today heart seems to be taking a beating. Had fun as the enlisted boys came to visit every day until a certain officer caught them on my bed, etc so no enlisted visitors. Made it very lonesome. [censored] Very hot these days. Wearing mosquito boots. Taking atabrine and signing for it. Plenty of ants, flies, mosquitos, and queer bugs. Received many small packages from home via plane.

July 9, 1943        

Back in the wards. Seems good to be with the boys, rather than the complaints of us girls. Specialfed[?] a wonderful boy—from Texas 23 yrs old. Such a good looking and find big boy. How terrible I feel as he died tonight. Had lung abscess following a J & A [?]. It was neglect, as something would have been done weeks ago instead of waiting so late. John Felty was nice—as all the boys were so upset and sad. Wrote a letter to his father tonight. It was the saddest thing I’ve seen since in the army.

Sept[ember] 5, 1943      

Several nurses and doctors went to Atar, small outpost air base in the desert. The plane trip 3 1/2 hrs to get there 2 1/2 hrs back. Slept all the way, nothing to see but desert. 485 miles from Dakar. The houses made of dirt and straw—good to see our flag on the building. Very good food, fresh fruit from Marrakesh. Arab village interesting—very smelly, poor ragged creatures, all bones. Saw camel caravan post—camels grazing in the desert—date trees. So barren, nothing green. How people can exist as the Arabs is most amazing. Was glad to get back to Dakar with the French and others.

Sept[ember] 8, 1943      

Flash! Rumors of Italy surrendering. Will this war ever end. So want to get back home, to be clean, have good fresh food and white people. Thank goodness for our beach here. Good night, dear diary. Got a permanent a few days ago. Now after washing and setting my hair [marked through] Please may I keep from getting hurt again, God.

Sept[ember] 8, 1943      

Long time since writing in my book last. Rainy season. Such big drops, every 2-3 days, mostly heavy showers—rains in our rooms have to place rain coats on beds. Very busy with malaria. It seems all have it. Several boys of our detachments. I do hope am spared. All working very hard but chief—she is the laziest person I’ve ever known, it is hard for me to be polite towards her.

Paul still writes lovely letters but it seems romance cannot be kept up in such a manner. I’m afraid I have a romance with John Felty. Gee it is tough as he is only a Sgt. Trying so hard not to fall, but it seems to be creeping on me in spite of my attempts. He’ll be going to O.C.S. so I had better watch my step.

Received many packages from home by boat. Had a wonderful corn beef and cabbage dinner on board. What a wonderful delicious meal as our food has been "par bon" or lousy. Have had dysentery several times after eating out. French food makes me ill for 2 days, so have given up going out. Had several officers on the string but do not enjoy their company—so stay in often except for movies at the hospital with John.

Dec[ember] 14, 1943     

It has been many months since my last entry. The malaria season brought plenty of work for all. Most of the nurses and enlisted men got malaria twice. I for one was and am very fortunate. Very little play or fun these days. Gave John’s friendship up and miss his [goofy?] and loud laughter. It is best. Have not gone out much lately—attending choir for Christmas carols—decorating the ward. Rumors today of all but three nurses returning to the states also 31 boys. Would it be possible! How I’d love to get home to see the family and Paul. Paul still writes beautiful letters and has been to several training camps and schools. Dear God I do hope I shall see him before [unclear] he goes overseas. It would be my luck to miss him.

A recreation pre-fab building is up for the officers club. It is fun to play ping pong. Have gone to many enlisted boys dances (fun) at various branches. Hear patients from are being ferried home (states) via Dakar. Rumor of a hospital being built at Rufique and perhaps we shall move home by then. Betty Reed has gone and as Lauren Grenal, and Dot Pemberton, one by one. Things are not pleasant here—stay by myself and try to mind my own business. Looking forward to a gay Christmas day. Until then diary, so long..

Feb[ruary] 10, 1944 — Dakar        

So much has happened. 7 of the girls are home now and I was supposed to have been one of them, as 10 were to leave. Anyway, the A’s and B;’s were left. Here after hoping to get home, orders came today for the three of us left to be transferred to Cairo. What next. Wished it wasn’t so, perhaps will get the opportunity to see more. But how I’d like to see Paul.

Feb[ruary] 20, 1944        

Casablanca, arrived here Feb[ruary] 14/44—by plane. Saw the Atlas Mts.  & Marrakech—good to see snow on them. Casa is such a cosmopolitan city, all types of people. Many stores that are real [unclear]. Fun bargaining with the natives for leather goods. Bought a long hassock, would like more. Sold my parka for three times as much what fun it was. Have gone to the Vox Theater table over by the A.R.C. wonderful to go to a real theatre. Went to Rick’s Café—named after Humphrey Bogart from his picture "Casablanca." It is the officer’s club or Auto Club—all hassocks and low inlaid tables. Native [unclear] very cozy and impressive. Soldiers play in the orchestra until 10:30 PM. League of nations, British French, Scottish, etc officers. Saw the Sultans Palace—beautiful grounds. Stepped inside of the Harem’s grounds. Saw the "Anfa" Hotel where Pres. Roosevelt & Churchill had their conference. Had rides in carriages of different types. Saw "Medina" where the Arabs live like animals and the Mosque. Saw and talked with John Garfield, he was in pyjamas in the hotel "Excelsior." Had to use some French to get along. Real cold weather, need overcoat most of the time. Had bath in tub for the first time in 14 mos. These are funny tubs.

Feb[ruary] 24[, 1944]                     

In Algiers. Went into Casbah—very dirty and scary place. Mountains and green hills are beautiful. Little children watching their sheep. Very large city and dirty—outskirts beautiful around shore drive. Saw homes that were shelled. Stayed in villa for transient nurses. Not too comfortable.

Left Algiers the 25th — Arrived in Cairo 12 MN.—left Algiers at 1:5 P.M.—very long plane trip—no stops—OC4—beautiful plane. Stayed at cockpit while it took off also night landing.

Feb[ruary] 28[, 1944]                     

Camp Huckstep in desert—hot and dry. Many buildings like a city. Went on tour with the Red Cross to see the sphinx and pyramids. Very large and most interesting—also the Citadel and mosques made of alabaster. Had to put slippers over shoes to walk around. Little did I think, when a child in school studying geography, I’d some day see the pyramids and Cairo.

April 15, 1944    

Back from leave to the Holy Land. Had seven days—plane trip less than 2 hrs. Beautiful country, like June at home. Everything green and flowers in bloom. Huge oranges and luscious orange blossoms lovely. Went on tour with an English Sgt—John Hodgson—who studied for priesthood before war and stationed in Jerusalem for 16 months. Knew everybody—priests, brothers, nuns, etc.—also knew all the places very well and the history. It was most consoling to be there and make the pilgrimage during Easter week. Got there Good Friday @ 1:30 PM and at 2 started the stations of the cross—-on about the same spots Jesus suffered. Correspondents (Am. war) took pictures. Then Friday night saw the "Burial"—the ceremony as it was𔃏 different languages represented and the different priests held the ceremonies on the various spots in the Church of the Holy Sepulture. It was very sad and gruesome. We were squashed in at all times arranged by John. At one time I was up in some beams like a monkey. Saturday went to midnight mass and received. Was on the go at all times, day and night. Saw so much and all so beautiful and interesting. Stayed in an Arabic private school—the first co-educational one run and owned by an Arab who taught French at one time in US. The Red Cross women were very nice and made our tour with many G.I.’s. Ate at the British Y. Brother Francis from Kansas was a wonderful person and like a little child. Met many priests, nuns and brothers from U.S. Had a wonderful time as well as religious and historical. Now will be all ready to go home. Took many pictures and bought many..

May 5, 1944       

Had a siege in the hospital as a patient with Bacillary dysentery—chills, temp over 104, etc. 13 days. Rumors of leaving soon by boat, in a few days. Still waiting for orders and then oh boy! Am all packed and ready.