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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Shirley Lyle, 1999

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Object ID: WV0116.5.001

Description: Documents Shirley McCorquodale Lyle’s career in the Army Nurse Corps from 1939 to 1960, including her service in the Pacific with the Army Nurse Corps during World War II.

Summary:

Lyle briefly details her high school education; her parents’ reaction when she started nursing school; limited options for women in the 1930s; her opinion of Eleanor Roosevelt; and her thoughts on women in the workforce and in combat.

Lyle primarily discusses experiences in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) during World War II. She recalls her reasons for joining the ANC, learning about the attack on Pearl Harbor while already in the ANC; two of her four sisters joining the Women’s Army Corps (WAC); and confusion about how to join the army and how to get her uniforms.

Much of Lyle’s discussion centers on her service in the South Pacific from March 1942 to July 1945. She remembers cramped quarters, low rations, and seasickness on the SSPatrick Henry; setting up a hospital in Australia with stilt houses; animals, train rides, scenery, and flying doctors in the Australian outback; Australian food; working in small units behind the front lines; lack of supplies; a long vacation in Sydney, Australia; Pacific Theater uniforms; the climate of Noemfoor, an equatorial coral island; living in tents; celebrating Christmas; food in New Guinea; celebrity visits, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Agnes Moorehead, Gary Cooper, and Irving Berlin; attempts at basic training after two years overseas; the nurses’ attempts to look nice and decorate their tents; the Bataan Death March and American nurses who were captured by the Japanese; and her opinion of General Douglas MacArthur.

Lyle also talks about a bond tour in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; going on an anthropometric survey with the WAC; arranging a last-minute trip to Europe to marry Jim Lyle; changes in the nursing profession; dealing with patients’ family members; getting attached to patients; and adjusting to civilian life after leaving the army.

Creator: Shirley McCorquodale Lyle

Biographical Info: Shirley McCorquodale Lyle (1915-2005) of Franklinville, North Carolina, served in the Army Nurse Corps from December 1939 to January 1960. She spent more than three years in the South Pacific during World War II and was stationed in Germany in the early 1950s.

Collection: Shirley McCorquodale Lyle 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.

Full Text:

HT:

My name is Hermann Trojanowski, and I'm at the home of Mrs. Shirley Lyle in Raleigh, North Carolina, to conduct an interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Mrs. Lyle, if you could give me your full name, please, and we'll see how your voice sounds on this tape recorder.

SL:

Shirley McCorquodale Lyle.

HT:

Thank you. Mrs. Lyle, would you tell me something about your life before you went into the Army Nurse Corps?

SL:

Well, I graduated from Franklinville High School.

HT:

Where's Franklinville?

SL:

It's about ten miles east of Asheboro. A small mill town. And I graduated when I was sixteen because we only had eleven grades then. But I was too young to go into nurses' training, so I worked there in one of the mills in the shipping office. And when I was old enough to leave, why, I went to medical college at Virginia School of Nursing in Richmond.

HT:

And when was that?

SL:

Nineteen thirty-four.

HT:

So this was the height of the Depression?

SL:

Yes. That's right.

HT:

And did you have any problems getting into the school?

SL:

I did not, and I graduated in the top third of the class. That's why I said I had excellent teachers in school.

HT:

What was life like in the early thirties, when you were growing up?

SL:

Well, actually, there wasn't very much to do. We did a lot of walking, groups of us, and a lot of them were in, of course, the sports thing in the school, which I didn't particularly like. I liked reading. I used to read an awful lot when I was growing up.

HT:

What made you decide to go out of state to nursing school?

SL:

Because I wanted to go to the teaching school.

HT:

What were the courses like?

SL:

In high school, I took every kind of science stuff you could take, so that it would help me in school, and the classes were regular classes, but we also had some work on the ward. You know, starting with very minor things, and then we would leave—stayed maybe an hour or two—and then we'd leave and go to class. We had the same instructors the medical students had, except the nursing part of it.

HT:

How long was nursing school?

SL:

Three years.

HT:

When you finished, you had a bachelor's degree in nursing?

SL:

No, you just had—you were a registered nurse. That's before they started the bachelor programs in most of the schools.

HT:

So you graduated from nursing school about 1937, I guess?

SL:

Thirty-seven.

HT:

And what was your next job?

SL:

I worked at Children's Orthopedic Hospital there in Richmond for almost a year, which I had liked when I was there as a student, and when I left there, two or three of us decided we wanted to go to a different place, so we went to Cincinnati, to Cincinnati General, and I did a year, pediatrics there. I like pediatrics. Then we were bored, so I decided to enter the army.

HT:

If we could just backtrack just a minute. When you went to Richmond, was that the first time you'd ever been away from home for any length of time?

SL:

Yes.

HT:

How did your family react to you being away and how did you react to being away?

SL:

Well, my father actually didn't want me to be a nurse. My mother told me to do whatever I wanted to. And I had worked, as I told you. I had saved enough money to buy the things required when I went into training.

HT:

So you paid your way through school?

SL:

Mostly.

HT:

That's wonderful. Why do you think your father didn't want you to be a nurse?

SL:

He just wanted all of us around.

HT:

And how big a family?

SL:

I have four sisters.

HT:

And did any of them go into nursing?

SL:

No.

HT:

Did any of them go into the military later on?

SL:

Two of them were WACs [Women's Army Corps] in the second class of WACs, after they formed WAC, and they each stayed three years. They got out as army sergeants.

HT:

Do you recall why you wanted to join the Army Nurse Corps?

SL:

To travel.

HT:

And did you do much traveling?

SL:

Yes, I did.

HT:

Can you tell me something about—what type of training did you have to go through, once you went into the army?

SL:

Well, when I entered the army, they had never started basic training, so I had no training, as far as military. It was fun, because I didn't know what I was doing. I remember the chief nurse said, “Now, this is your serial number and don't ever forget it, because somebody may ask you what it is at any time,” so I carried it on a piece of paper in my uniform pocket for a long time.

HT:

Now, what type of uniform did you have?

SL:

We wore white uniforms.

HT:

All the time?

SL:

On duty.

HT:

And what about, did you have army greens?

SL:

We did not until we got a uniform when we started overseas. In fact, when we got on the ship to go overseas, we still didn't have a uniform, except our whites.

HT:

I think you said you went into the Army Nurse Corps in 1939.

SL:

December 26.

HT:

The war had just started in Europe, and where was your first base or first duty?

SL:

I went to Fort Benning, Georgia, which is still one of the best places in the army.

HT:

And you say you didn't have to undergo any kind of basic training? No marching, none of that sort of stuff?

SL:

They didn't have it for women then.

HT:

And you went in as a lieutenant, I assume?

SL:

As a second lieutenant.

HT:

Do you recall what your first day was like?

SL:

Yes. The chief nurse said, “We didn't expect you to be here until after the first of the year.” And I said, “Well, I'll go back home and come back down here.” She said, “Oh, no. You've already had your oath of office, so you can't do that.” And she asked me where my uniforms were and I said, “I didn't bring a uniform.” And I had this letter I received from Washington and it said everything was furnished—uniforms, dresses, scarves, everything. And I thought she was going to get me out of the army that day, but she didn't.

HT:

Was it a misunderstanding on somebody's part?

SL:

I guess between the—her name was Miss Raffensburger, I'll never forget her. Don't ask me to spell it, because I don't remember how. But I guess she wasn't coordinated well enough with Washington, and we didn't know anything about the army, anybody that went in at that time.

HT:

How did you go about joining the army? Do you recall?

SL:

Well, I did wrong on that, too, because in Cincinnati, two or three of us went down to the post office and told them we wanted to join the nurse corps, and they said you don't join through the post office. You have to write to Washington. So I wrote a little letter to Washington. I'd hate to read it now. I don't know what I said. Except I also wrote to the navy at the same time, and, of course, the navy was a little more alert, so I heard from them first. In the meantime, I heard that you didn't travel much in the navy. You were teaching corpsmen. They were the ones that traveled. So I decided to go in the army. And to skip a little, years later, I met the chief of the Navy Nurse Corps in Heidelberg, Germany, and I told her I got in the army first, and I said, “I didn't write and tell them I wasn't coming.” I was supposed to go to Norfolk, Virginia. I figured if I didn't show up, they'd know that I wasn't coming. I didn't know anything about rules, and I went into the army, and she said, “Well, Major McCorquodale, now you'd better check. You may still be in the navy.”

HT:

So you might have been in both branches of the service.

SL:

She was real nice. She and the chief of the Army Nurse Corps came over and made a tour in Europe.

HT:

And what type of work did you do at Fort Benning?

SL:

Regular nursing. Just nursing on wards.

HT:

And how long were you stationed there?

SL:

Until I went overseas.

HT:

When was that?

SL:

First of March, 1942. That's when we sailed. We left Benning maybe two weeks before that because we still didn't have a uniform. We still didn't when we got on the boat, except white. We got on the ship in civilian suits, and we had to dress for dinner every night on the troop ship.

HT:

Do you recall what the name of the ship was?

SL:

Patrick Henry.

HT:

Was that a converted liner?

SL:

It was a whole group of South American vessels. Patrick Henry used to be called something else, although I don't remember what. But there was Uruguay, Sao Paolo, Santa Lucia. Big troop ships. In fact, there were five troop ships that sailed from New York the first of March.

HT:

So you set sail out of New York?

SL:

Down to Panama, through the Panama Canal.

HT:

And where was your final destination, or did you know it?

SL:

We didn't know. But we went to Australia. We got to Australia in thirty-nine days.

HT:

I've talked to other people who went across the Pacific—another nurse, as a matter of fact—and she said they had to do a lot of zigzagging. Did you have to do that to try to avoid the submarines and that sort of thing?

SL:

We probably did. We didn't pay any attention to that.

HT:

What was life like aboard ship?

SL:

Crowded. We never had been on—actually, I don't think anybody I knew had been on a ship before. And all nurses, you know. On that ship, we were all nurses and troops. The Uruguay had five thousand troops on it, and they were in ballrooms and every place. Sick, everybody was sick. But I was on the flagship, which was a smaller ship, and this girl and I were assigned to—one of my friends, we were assigned to Veranda C and we said, “That sounds real good. I believe we've got a good place.” And when we got—we were the last ones aboard, because everybody was trying to get on, and we knew we'd get there. So when we got up there, we had two top bunks. It was bunk beds, four in a row. We had the top and you couldn't sit up in bed. You had to roll sideways and get out of the bed if you wanted to sit, because you had about that much space. There were twenty of us on Veranda C.

HT:

Was that a former stateroom that had been converted to a—

SL:

I don't know. Probably, it was sort of pretty then. Probably you could see the ocean and everything.

HT:

Did you have portholes you could see out of?

SL:

We had portholes, but you couldn't see out.

HT:

What was life like aboard the ship for those thirty-nine days?

SL:

We got a pitcher of water, about like that, for the twenty of us, a day. It was just [unclear]. And we all had to take—the water was turned on for twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes at night. So we had to figure out how we could all bathe, twenty people in twenty minutes, in a sink of water. So finally we put all of our makeup and stuff in shoe boxes, because I had helped to issue some shoes when we got on board and sailed. So about four of us would go in there at one time and get a sink of water and trade a bath. But I don't remember us being too upset about it.

HT:

Because everybody was in the same boat, so to speak.

SL:

But we had the only hospital in the convoy. See, we had a big convoy going to Panama from New York, because they'd been bombing ships and things. And of course, we didn't know, we didn't pay attention to that, either. But all the escort people left us in Panama, except for a cruiser and whatever they call those—tankers or freighters or something.

HT:

Frigate, maybe?

SL:

It had some kind of supplies on it for ships, and they were the only two other ships that went with us the rest of the way. We were all young. It wasn't no problem.

HT:

Was there a whole hospital aboard your ship?

SL:

We had a hospital and they would bring patients from the other ships, and I think they did do appendectomies. But then we helped make supplies, even as we were sailing from New York, and we were getting supplies ready for the hospital.

HT:

I've heard other people say that when they were sent overseas, they went over as a unit, like a whole hospital in Cincinnati would go as a unit.

SL:

Well, they did do that. Later, though, usually. We were to have a big surgical hospital, which we didn't know any of that when we got on board the ship. But the commanding officer was on the ship I was on, and it was supposed to be the 33rd Surgical Hospital, when we got where we were going. And on that ship, we were real fortunate, because there was a little Filipino fellow that brought some supplies on board—Coca-Colas and sardines, [unclear], and we only had two meals a day. We had breakfast and dinner. So at noon, he'd sell us a Coke. He was something to do with the ship's captain or something, they could bring it. But girls on those ships did not have any of that.

HT:

Why did they only feed you twice a day?

SL:

I guess for carrying supplies. We didn't get any supplies.

HT:

That's right. And being on the water.

SL:

And water, too. Now, if they had an appendectomy or something, and we found out about it, we'd all run and take a shower and they didn't know about that. Everybody that found out would run quick, because normally, I mean, tons of water they used for appendectomy.

HT:

What did you and your fellow nurses do for fun aboard ship?

SL:

Not anything, because there wasn't much to do. You didn't have room to do anything. The girl that I told you was a friend at Benning, we'd get up first thing in the morning and get out of there, get out on the deck. And of course, we had a lot of drills and things, in case we had to abandon ship. And we'd get out and I think everybody in that veranda was seasick, except us. Because I remember we took one of the nurses to sick bay one day. She was yelling and keeping everybody awake. You know, vomiting and whining. She was of Italian descent, real hyper-hyper, you know. We took her up there and they just gave her something and sent her back, so we had to carry her back, by her shoulders, back down the steps. Don't say “steps,” because that made the navy mad. Back down. And everybody was seasick. Practically every meal, there would be other people missing, except Doris and I, we didn't miss a meal.

HT:

What were the meals like?

SL:

Good, pretty good. And then we had enough people that could play an instrument that we had music during dinner, people made up after the—

HT:

Did you have dancing or anything like that?

SL:

Well, we didn't have room, but we sang. We could sing.

HT:

And after you reached Australia, where did you land?

SL:

Well, we landed in various places because one of the ships broke down and one of the ships stayed with that one, and they went by New Zealand or something. We kind of got separated when we were landing. The ship I was on landed in Brisbane.

HT:

Is that where you set up the hospital, in Brisbane?

SL:

No, we got on the train and we went up to Townsville and we were put on the detached service because we were not all together, as I told you. We were kind of separated. Some of them landed in Melbourne and some, some other places. And so we went on temporary duty and ran the hospital until a group came in from the States, like you said, a whole unit that was going to take over that hospital. But we had taken over houses in Townsville, and set up a hospital. You know that a lot of the houses were built on stilts? Well, we had patients in the houses and we had patients under the houses.

HT:

These were all American patients that you were—

SL:

On cots.

HT:

—that you were taking care of, or were they Australians and New Zealanders as well?

SL:

American.

HT:

They were, of course, coming from the Pacific theater of war, being flown in from all these islands, I guess, to be taken care of.

SL:

Not then. Not then. Just people that were there, I guess. Because there were other units there. I know they had air force there, because they were the ones that landed in Hawaii the day the war started. They didn't know what was going on, but people were shooting at them. They were shooting at the enemy and hitting them. They landed on golf courses and all over Hawaii, wherever they saw a space. They were in B-17s.

HT:

Well, speaking of Hawaii, do you recall where you were when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

SL:

Fort Benning.

HT:

And what was your reaction, do you recall?

SL:

We worked half-days on Sunday, and it was on a Sunday. And of course, everybody was sort of lying around in their rooms and when we heard about the war, we ran out and told everybody else. And we ran—all of us went down to the chief nurse's office, which is in their building, and told her we wanted to go overseas, and she headed down with us. We asked her if she'd go with us and she said no, because she had just come back from Shanghai, and she said, “I'll let you young people, but just take it easy, you'll have plenty of time to get overseas, and stay as long as they need you.” So we had to go back upstairs and wait until we could get in the army, get over to the war.

HT:

Well, I guess, let's skip forward again for just a second, back to Australia, when you set up the hospital at Townsend, I think you said?

SL:

Townsend [sic-Townsville].

HT:

What did that entail? What did you have to do exactly to set up a hospital?

SL:

You uncrate stuff and you set up cots and get your medical supplies, and that requires the doctors and the nurses and everybody working, and get a cot for every patient you're going to have. And it happened that this Doris, the one I mentioned—she's dead now, I believe—but she was appointed chief nurse and I was her assistant, and we also had to be the mess officers, and neither one of us could cook. That was just for the nurses' meals. It was separate. And we had two Australian women that would cook. We'd ask them what they wanted to cook and they'd say squash or pumpkin, always. I'll never forget that. Stewed pumpkin. You like stewed pumpkin?

HT:

I've never had stewed pumpkin.

SL:

Me either, not since or before. But anyway, that's the way it was. Like, I had seven wards and I was a mess officer, and sometimes I'd get over there about 11:15 [a.m.], and I'd say, “What are we going to eat for lunch?” because I knew all the nurses would come in, complaining, and they'd say, “Stewed pumpkin.” And I don't ever remember having anything else. I'm sure we did.

HT:

Do you recall how many nurses there were with you at this hospital?

SL:

No. Because there were some from other units. There were not too many nurses, because I don't even remember how long it was before that hospital came in. But when they came in, we'd done so well they split us up into three sections and sent us, you might say, out in the field, to set up more hospitals. So I went to the end of the railroad with my unit, which was Mount Isa, outback, in Australia, the end of the railroad, towards Darwin. We were out in the desert, what they call the desert. And Mount Isa was a mining town, lead mine. We took over houses, set up another hospital, and we had, I would say, about thirty, thirty-two nurses.

HT:

When you say you took over houses, these were civilian houses?

SL:

Yes. They were turned over to the army.

HT:

What happened to the people who lived there?

SL:

I don't have any idea. Maybe they went home. A lot of Americans up in Mount Isa, that had gone over there, engineers that couldn't get a job when they got out of college, and they had gone to Mount Isa to that mining town. Quite a few Americans down there.

HT:

So I guess you felt quite at home with all these Americans around?

SL:

Well, I liked the Australians, too. They were real good to us.

HT:

I was going to ask you about the Australians.

SL:

They let us use the mining store, you know, like a little commissary. They invited us—they didn't have anything, but they put on a big tea for us when we got there. Like they had pork and bean sandwiches and everything, but cut, you know, cut real dainty, and had all their silver and stuff out. So everybody was real good to us.

HT:

At these hospitals, what type of work did you actually do?

SL:

Any kind.

HT:

Surgery?

SL:

Well, it more, in those days, when they were just getting set up—see, the troops went over when we did. Our troops were on the ship when we went, so they hadn't been anywhere to get hurt or anything, unless they got in a fight or something like that.

HT:

If we could backtrack just a little bit, what did your family think about you going overseas?

SL:

They didn't know—really, they didn't know too much about it. They knew we were going somewhere, but they didn't know where. My father didn't find out where we were for three months. We didn't get any mail service. So he wrote Washington, to the chief nurse. Well, that scared me to death. I said, “You shouldn't have done that,” and he said, “Why not? That's what she's there for.” He said they shouldn't leave people that long without finding out where their children are.

HT:

You didn't get into trouble because of that, though, I'm sure.

SL:

No. No, she was very nice. She wrote him back and told him that I was all right and that we'd hear from them soon. He was so proud of his three girls in the army and his stars in the window and all that stuff. He didn't have any sons.

HT:

When did your sisters join the military, do you recall?

SL:

Well, they started the WACs in, was it '42? I don't remember.

HT:

That sounds about right. I can't remember exactly.

SL:

It was something like that. I know they went to basic training down at Daytona Beach, and the first WAC school, or basic training school, was out in Iowa or somewhere out—

HT:

I've heard of that, and I can't remember the name of the college.

SL:

You know Colonel Hobby, the one that took charge, she's the one that got us most of the things we ever got, by starting the WACs.

HT:

Now, you say you didn't have any brothers, just the four girls?

SL:

Yes. Five girls.

HT:

Five girls, and four of you were in the military?

SL:

Three.

HT:

Three in the military.

SL:

I was the oldest child. The one next to me and then the next one went into the service.

HT:

I guess your parents must have been very proud of the four of you.

SL:

I don't think they ever knew me as a nurse, really, because I never nursed in North Carolina except at Fort Bragg.

[Tape recorder paused]

HT:

Before we had a little break, you were talking about having gotten to Australia. What were the Australian people like, that you met? Do you recall?

SL:

In Brisbane, we saw this bunch of young men. They were in uniform but we didn't know what their uniform was. Shorts and those hats, you know, and we asked them if they were from a sheep station. That's the only thing we knew about Australia, and they said yeah. And then later, we found out they were soldiers. We asked for their picture and they stood in front of some monuments and we took pictures of them, and we asked some passerby to take a picture of us with them, you know, with their little hats.

HT:

Did you have any unusual experiences while you were in Australia?

SL:

Not really. Except riding the trains. When we went to Mount Isa, it took a long time to get there because they had the narrow gauge railroads and they had two engines, and for a Pullman—we went to sleep in them—for a Pullman they just turned the seats down some way and put some boards across the seats. And of course the windows were even with the seats, so you'd wake up and your foot would be hanging out of the window or something. And then we went past all these kangaroos, emus, and anthills. Anthills look like mountains. We heard later that they use those anthills—they bulldoze them down and make runways out of them. It was real hard, you know. It would get real hard like concrete.

HT:

Interesting. Now, this was in western Australia??

SL:

It was out in the desert part. What do they call that, the northern territory or something? Anyway, there were no cities or anything. You didn't pass anything except occasionally a sheep station or something way out in nowhere.

HT:

Being the desert, I'm assuming it was hot?

SL:

It had desert flies, little teensy flies.

HT:

What was the climate like? Was it always hot?

SL:

It would get kind of warm during the day, but Mount Isa, of course, had a lot of mountains around it. And you wore a net on your helmet, pith helmet, because the flies would get into your eyes and mouth and face, so they used to have this saying, they could tell anybody who had been stationed out back, because they'd get back in the city and they'd walk down the street like this, batting the flies out of your face. And the kids had somebody that stood by the door and kept the flies off of them while they'd run through the screen door to the building. And tin roofs on the houses. Most of the families went down to the shore for the hot weather, the real hot weather. They'd take the kids and go down there during the summer.

HT:

What was the land like? You mentioned it was desert. Any mountains?

SL:

Well, they had trees and emus, is all I remember. I'd never seen an emu. That's a crossword puzzle name to me.

HT:

And what is an emu?

SL:

That's those long-legged, little bodies, e-m-u, emu. They're long-legged, because one dropped dead in our backyard one time. It came flying down from the mountains somewhere.

HT:

Oh, it's a bird?

SL:

Yes, it's like a—well they run.

HT:

It's almost like an ostrich-type bird?

SL:

Yeah, sort of. And then some of the doctors' wives would send cornmeal over there and they'd make cornbread, because the Australian food wasn't the best, you know. If you went in Brisbane or in Townsville, if you went to get some steaks from the butcher, he'd say, “Come back in two or three hours. We haven't killed the cow yet.” So we'd wait and come back in three hours. They didn't know how to cut meat. Any meat they had would be tough until the Americans taught them how to cut beef.

HT:

Did the Australians eat a lot of sheep, maybe?

SL:

Yes, but see, they had to export all their stuff during the war. They had very poor food. We never got vegetables, hardly at all. Because their soldiers had been in war over in, with the British, for two years. Isn't that right? About two years?

HT:

They started in 1939.

SL:

Because they didn't bring them back, and they hadn't been permitted to get home or anything, during that time. They came back while we were there, I guess, maybe in '43. Because in Mount Isa, we got a lot of Australian patients that had just returned from—well, some of them went to Africa, I guess, some were in the different places. But all very nice. Of course, over there, it's like, I guess, all over Europe, they could buy a commission, you know. Most of the officers we met that were Australian officers, a lot of them were real young. Some of them nineteen or twenty and they just bought a commission. But very polite and very gentlemanly. But rough. The Australians are rough. They're used to a tough life.

HT:

Were there any Australian girls or young women in the military, or Army Nurse Corps, that you met?

SL:

I don't remember ever meeting—now, we had visited in the hospital, but it was people from Holland, Dutch, Dutch people, that ran hospitals over there, too. But I don't remember ever seeing any Australian people. Because a flying doctor went out through where we were stationed. You've heard of that?

HT:

No.

SL:

Well, maybe, it's either once a week or something like that, a doctor and a nurse would fly in and treat people who knew when they were coming and what was wrong with them, they'd be there. They call it “flying doctor.” They did all the medicine out back.

HT:

Was that because everything was so far—all the settlements were so far apart?

SL:

Oh yeah, it could be. We had natives. We had some natives that worked around the hospital. They were from missionary schools and places like that. But they're getting to be well-known. Have you ever heard of Cloncurry?

HT:

No.

SL:

Have you ever heard of Alice Springs?

HT:

Yes.

SL:

Well, Alice Springs was the hospital—one of the hospitals we set up during the war was in Alice Springs, and then we had one in Cloncurry.

HT:

How do you spell that?

SL:

Cloncurry? C-l-o-n-c-u-r-r-y. Don't quote me on that. And then there was Mount Isa, where I was. When we got there, everybody was at the station and we thought they were there to meet us. We found out it's a mail train that came twice a week, the train we were on. They were down to get their mail.

HT:

And how long were you stationed in Australia?

SL:

We came back from the outback and we all got together, the whole unit, for the first time since we'd been over there, in late '42. In August, maybe August, something like that. And we set up a thousand-bed hospital. Five hundred beds on one side and five on the other and divided our unit into A and B section, to give a little competition to each other. That was in Rockhampton, and that was some kind of headquarters. It's where the general was that was sent over there, that later went on into New Guinea—General [Robert Lawrence] Eichelberger. His wife—well, they had a home in Nashville and they lived there when he got out of the service and died. But he had the Eighth Army and then there was the Sixth Army, and all kinds of navy units, and the field air force. Because they brought the paratroopers in and they jumped into Manila. But when we came back, we set that hospital up and we had it running real well, and then, after things—they got it settled a little in New Guinea, we went up through the islands. Of course, you've heard of the [unclear] in Port Moresby, where a lot of the soldiers came back from fighting, and then we just worked different islands.

HT:

So you were always behind the fronts, the boys were fighting—

SL:

Well, at that time, they didn't let nurses go actually into the battle zones like they did later in Vietnam. Because see, we had to be flown everywhere, practically, that we went, from island to island. And they had what they called “surgical teams” that—the only thing you can compare it to, it was like MASH [Mobil Army Surgical Hospital] was, except there were no nurses in it to start with, because if they cut us off, there'd be no way to get anybody out of there. So they had surgical teams made up of officers and enlisted men that would go out in small units and service these troops.

HT:

And then the main hospital would be way behind.

SL:

Well, they had to break our outfit up. It was too big to move. They couldn't move it. So then they changed, took different groups, and you'd have your two nurses' assistants and so many nurses and so many doctors, and spread them out wherever they were needed.

HT:

Was it very difficult to work under those conditions?

SL:

Yes, because like with us in Mount Isa, we never got supplies, because there were two hospitals that the train stopped before it got to us, and they'd take off everything and we'd get whatever they forgot to take. So occasionally, we'd have patients, appendectomies and things, sewed up with sewing thread out of our sewing kits. Because we had to wash the bandages, sterilize them. We couldn't get anything to work with.

HT:

That must have been really hard.

SL:

That's why when we hear all these people, and I know they had a rough time in Vietnam and in Korea, but by then, the army knew more what to expect and what to have, and had more supplies and things. World War II, they didn't know. They never had worked in the tropics and as a unit. We were in the jungle, same as they were in Vietnam, but you never heard nothing about that.

HT:

Were the physical conditions rough? Talking about the terrain and the heat, and that sort of thing.

SL:

Oh, yeah. And natives running around everywhere. They used the rivers to walk in, you know, and they always told us, “Don't ever get caught in one of those rivers,” because that's where we would bathe until they could get up field showers and things. And we washed our clothes in the river, rubbed them on the rocks with a brush. But you never heard of any of those things, see. And supplies was one of the main things. Look how far they had to go with supplies. Halfway around the world.

HT:

They had to come all the way from the United States. I guess you couldn't get anything locally, even from Australia.

SL:

No, because their supplies went with their troops, and the only soldiers in Australia when we got there were the home guard, which is like the National Guard here. Young kids and ones that weren't trained to send overseas. But the main thing over there, I think, was supplies, trying to get supplies over to us.

HT:

Do you recall any unusual, hilarious, or embarrassing moments while you were either in Australia or in some of these various islands?

SL:

Not really. We were like a big family. Anybody outside us would say something and we'd fight them.

HT:

Do you recall the name of some of these islands where you were stationed?

SL:

Well, as I said, when they split us up, we didn't see the other girls. Like I ran into five in Washington I hadn't seen since '45, when they opened that museum. I was stationed in Rockhampton and then in Mindoro, in the Philippines. This is just various places I landed in.

[End Tape 1, Side A—Begin Tape 1, Side B]

HT:

Before the tape stopped, Mrs. Lyle, you were talking about some of the different islands where you were.

SL:

Well, from Rockhampton, we went to Port Moresby and from Moresby to—this is just—before we even went on duty we'd have to stop and spend the night, you know, and then catch our own transportation. One time I took all the nurses out by a small boat. I was called on the phone and told to have the nurses ready to get on this hospital ship, and we got them all ready and got out to—we were in Dobodura, in New Guinea, at the time. We had a big hospital there, a back hospital. And we got a lot of patients there from different islands. They'd come in by boat or plane or however they could get them to us. And some of them on the ship would get gangrene and everything because they took so long to come by ship. But like they'd be from a little island, a little bit like that on—like Iwo Jima and all those little teensy islands.

HT:

Did you ever have the opportunity to go on vacation?

SL:

One time. I was over there thirty-nine months, and went over in March and came home in July of '45, right before the war ended. And they sent us down one time—they'd have to send people in different groups, you know, just fly them out whenever they could get transportation, and send us down to Sydney, in Australia, which, we didn't even want to go on leave, but they sent us. And it was cold down there. Two or three got malaria because they hadn't been in the cold weather, see. And we were all on Adrin [unclear] the whole time over there, either on Control [unclear]. And we didn't have any money, and we stayed at a Red Cross headquarters.

We got down there and they moved some troops into the islands and we couldn't get back to our outfit. They got us down there but nobody would take us back. So we went for two weeks, and we stayed about five, and every day we had to be out at the airport at 4:30 in the morning, to see if we could fly out that day. Sit there half the day and then go back and wait and be told when to be out at the airfield again. This other girl and I bummed a ride on a plane that belonged to some general. They wouldn't take us at first and then they finally took us and they put us out. They just said we could go so far and they'd let us out at some island, which wasn't our home station. Then we'd have to start trying to bum another ride, on a little further.

So it wasn't too good, and we nearly froze to death. We'd been up there in the tropics and all of a sudden we're down in Sydney where it was cold, cold, cold. And those little heaters—they had one to a room, or one to a building. So we were all glad to get back up in the islands.

HT:

What type of uniforms did you have in the tropics, do you recall?

SL:

Well, at first they had uniforms made for us over there. Khaki culottes—you know, the split skirts? Because see, we had to ride on the two-and-a-half ton trucks and jeeps or whatever was available. And then when we got in to the tropics, we went into khaki slacks and long-sleeved shirts, just about like the men wore. And the pith helmets.

I was stationed on one island, that's where the air force came in before they jumped up in Manila, called Noemfoor [or No. That was a Dutch island, supposedly. Wasn't a tree on it. It was a coral island. The pipes were all on top of the ground. It was on the equator, right on the equator, so you took a bath during the night because the water was boiling, coming out of those pipes. You had to wait until it cooled off and the sun would go down, and then we'd have to do our surgery. Elective surgery started anytime, four o'clock, five o'clock, before the sun got up.

And at the same time, the air force was flying missions to—what's the name of that place? Borneo. One of the planes, one or two, had fallen in the water before it even got off the ground, because it was one of those things where they were bombing oil refineries in Borneo, and they had to have enough gas to take them there and bring them back. So sometimes they'd be loaded so heavy, they'd go in the water before they even got up. The island was eight miles long and four miles wide, so they had to go the whole length of the island to get off the ground. We stayed there for a good while and that was crazy. We made our Christmas tree out of packing boxes and everybody would dig down in their stuff to see if they could find—we'd draw names, just so everybody would have a little gift, find something in their footlocker or something, and give it as a gift. But as I said, we were young and we'd [unclear]. We found somebody who was a cartoonist for The New Yorker and we had him do cartoons all around the side of the tents, and then maybe somebody in the parachutists would give us parachutes and we'd hang them in the ceiling and that would keep a lot of the heat from coming through. If they were torn parachutes you couldn't use.

HT:

Now, you were living in tents at this time?

SL:

Yes. Well, some of them, they'd put up the tent sidewalls or whatever you call them, and the top, you know. And we all got us some chairs somewhere along the way, one of those canvas chairs you can fold up? So we would have this artist draw some things and put our name on our chair so nobody could steal it. So it was no problem.

HT:

What was the food like on the island?

SL:

Bad. First time we got this stewed beef in a can, oh, we raved and thought it was the best thing we'd ever had. And about a week of that, we were sick of that. You know, the same thing over. And one time a young Australian soldier came to my office and had a note for me from one of the officers, and they called me “matron.” I felt like I should have a bunch of keys hanging there. “Matron McCorquodale?” So he came in and saluted and gave me this note. It was to tell me they were pulling out of the island and did I want some poultry. They had a few chickens.

HT:

Live chickens?

SL:

Yes. So I called the adjutant, or exec officer, and I said, “Do you want some chickens? This young man has to know.” And I'll tell you exactly what he said, but I better not. Anyway, he said, “Yes,” and I said, “Well, you officers can feed them because we're not going to get involved in it.” So they set up a little tent, stuff around, to make a place for the chickens, and put them in there and they'd take leftover food at dinner down to the chicken house, to feed those chickens. They were the skinniest chickens you'd ever seen. Anyway, they fed them and I think once in a while they'd get an egg and then they'd fight over that. And when we left, we had a big chicken stew right before we left that island. But things like that, and that was fun. And then our fun was—we decided the enlisted men had been so good and they'd worked so hard, so I think Christmas Eve or one of the times, the officers and nurses served them their food for dinner that night. That was hilarious.

HT:

Did you have dietitians with you, army dietitians?

SL:

I don't think we ever had a dietitian. We had a nurse that knew quite a bit about cooking, so she was their dietitian one time, in Rockhampton.

HT:

And who did the cooking for you?

SL:

We had soldiers. And some of the things they could do pretty good. They got so they could cook those dehydrated potatoes pretty good, and bread. One time this doctor from Atlanta was sitting beside me in the dining hall. See, we'd have big, long tables and those benches that you had to climb over to get in to sit down. They were attached to the tables somewhat.

He said, “Are you eating that bread?”

And I said, “Yeah.”

He said, “See those little black specks in it?”

And I said, “Oh, I've been taking them out.”

He said, “That's weevils. I wouldn't eat that stuff if I was starved.”

I never had seen a weevil in my life, but they do grow in flour. And then, for our sugar, the ants got in that. We'd sit that in the sun and all the ants would run out, and the bread would get ants so you just hit it real hard on the table and they'd run out, and you'd quick get a bite before they got back.

HT:

That's what I call “roughing it.”

SL:

Sort of. Oh, my. When I think back, I guess we did. Got to the Philippines and people were getting bitten by scorpions. I didn't even know what a scorpion looked like. Do you?

HT:

I've seen them on TV. That's about it.

SL:

Well, see, we didn't have TV then. I thought they looked like lizards, and it turned out they looked like spiders.

HT:

While you were overseas, did you ever have the opportunity to meet anybody real interesting, famous, or anything like that?

SL:

Oh, we saw a lot. Mrs. [Eleanor] Roosevelt came over and stayed at our hospital. Who was the real well-known actress that played a lot of Shakespeare, in the States?

HT:

It wasn't Judith Anderson, was it?

SL:

No. Her name was Moorehead.

HT:

Agnes Moorehead.

SL:

Yes. She stayed at our place. Now, we loved her. Gary Cooper came.

HT:

This is to entertain? Sort of like Bob Hope always went—

SL:

Well, Bob Hope refused to perform in our place. He got mad. Something about how high the stage was or something. We heard it. Anyway, he did not perform. But Gary Cooper came. He didn't. He just talked, and went around to see a lot of us. He's a real nice person. And surprisingly, many of the soldiers liked classical music and they liked classics. Irving Berlin came. You know, he did, what, [unclear].

And of course, we had to use mosquito repellent at anything we went to outside, sit on the ground or take your folding chair with you. We used to invite General Eichelberger to see a movie once in a while. He loved Westerns, so when we had a good Western show, we'd have the doctors invite him over for our movie, and he'd yell and whoop and holler and have a big time.

HT:

So it sounded like you did have a little bit of entertainment every so often.

SL:

Oh, yeah.

HT:

Would these people come in on a regular basis?

SL:

No. You didn't know—you'd know right before they came in, and a lot of them, we wondered what they were doing there, but they were there.

HT:

I guess they were part of the USO [United Service Organizations], is that correct?

SL:

Yes. It was USO. And when you were traveling, you might have to sit for ages at these little airport things. Like when I told you on the train going outback, you'd go for hours and then suddenly you'll stop at a little building and they'd have your food all ready in a bowl on the table, and maybe the train would be two hours late, but it was ready two hours before. This soup with fat floating around on top. Things like that. And then the doctors would be shooting at kangaroos and shooting emus out of the back of the train, because there wasn't anything for a hundred miles.

HT:

Did you ever learn to shoot a gun while you were overseas?

SL:

We were supposed to learn and they tried to teach us, but actually, the .45 was too heavy. I couldn't hold it up there long enough to aim at anything.

HT:

So the entire time you were in the Army Nurse Corps, you never did much shooting?

SL:

They tried to teach us to march. We had already been overseas two years and our sergeant was supposed to get us out and march before breakfast. And one time I said to this girl in front of me, “Stella [unclear], you're out of step,” and she just walked out of the line and went up to her hut and sat down. You know, things like that, which was ridiculous, for us to be overseas two years and then decide to give us a little basic training.

HT:

Too late by that time, I guess.

SL:

But new outfits came over and had their basic. But my serial number in the army, when they changed it—see, at first, everybody was AUS, Army of the United States. Then when we were really integrated into what you might say, you know, the male officers, which was '47 or '48, I got a new serial number. I had to learn another serial number. But my serial number in the entire nurse corps was 331. So I was number 331 in the whole nurse corps.

HT:

So that's how they numbered everybody, starting with number one.

SL:

When you went in, you were assigned a serial number.

HT:

The next number?

SL:

Yes. So there were 330 people that had been in the army longer than I had.

HT:

Do you recall any patients that stand out in your mind?

SL:

Lord, it's been so long ago. We got a beer ration one time, and I don't know whether that was Rockhampton. Maybe. We could have a can of beer a day. No, it wasn't in Rockhampton, because we were up where the river was swift and we couldn't get in the water very often. What do they call it when you have a flood?

HT:

Flash flood?

SL:

Yeah. And we were told to be sure and get out. When they finally got the showers set up, these mobile things, you'd get all soaped up and then the water would go up and you couldn't get any more water on, so you'd have to put your clothes on and go down to the river and get the soap off. So anyway, we would cut tropic flowers and replant them in front of our quarters, and the colonel would say, “Look, we spent weeks getting all of this junk out of the way, you know, of the buildings and all, and here you nurses dig up everything and bring it back and set it out.”

HT:

You wanted it to look pretty.

SL:

Well sure. We ironed our khakis, we starched them. We worked hard to try and look good, look neat.

HT:

I imagine it must have been very hard to look halfway decent in that heat. I mean, I've heard other people, who were in the tropics, say that they would have a starched uniform—

SL:

Well, you were clammy.

HT:

—and in no time at all, you'd be just drenching wet.

SL:

And then with long sleeves and long khakis, and khakis are not cool anyway. And then some of the hospitals, you were in the jungle. If you were on night duty, you had to call the guard who was guarding the area to take you down to the girls' room, which was pits and all. You know, they had to dig them out. But you couldn't go from the ward by yourself. So they'd stand out there and wait while you went to the john.

HT:

You get used to anything, I guess.

SL:

I guess so.

HT:

How long were you in the Pacific theater?

SL:

Thirty-nine months.

HT:

And when did you leave then?

SL:

July of '45.

HT:

And where did you go after that?

SL:

I came home as a patient. I went with a general from the Eighth Army, General Rice. I'll never forget him. Then we were looking for a hospital site, so we flew on the navy PBY [flying boat], which is one of those slow, we call them “black cats.” They did a lot of night reconnaissance. Real slow. I think maybe they went eighty miles an hour or something. But anyway, we went down there, and they're the kind of planes you can land on the ground or in water, so we went in the Nile [unclear], and landed in the water, and kept circling around until we could get out of the water on this place where we had to climb up. And I had stopped taking my Atabrine when we left. I wanted to know if I had malaria, and I thought it was a good time to find out with the general there. He was a surgeon there for the Eighth Army. Well, we got there. In fact, I was getting sick on the airplane because it was slow and noisy. By the time we got there, I had diarrhea and was vomiting, by the time we got off that airplane, going around in that circle, you know. And I had stopped taking my medicine. Whoever the chief nurse was down there met us and she was trying to greet me to the island and I was saying, “Where is the latrine?” I was sick. So she got me there and I vomited and had diarrhea and carried on, and here I was supposed to be down there at work.

Anyway, I felt better later and went out working in the field or somewhere and got sick again, and they had to give me IVs and get me back, and General Rice said, “Send her back to Leyte.” And he said to me, “You're to stay there until we get back, in the hospital.” And they flew me back and this nurse said go with me on some Marine air thing with a bunch of Marines on it. And I went back and I stayed in the hospital. Went before the board when I got well enough to walk. And they asked me how long I'd been over there. I said, “Thirty-nine months,” and they said, “That's all the questions we want to hear. That's too long for anybody to stay. You're in the jungles and under the conditions you girls have been living.” So I came back to the States. Otherwise, I might still be over there, if they didn't ever find me.

They started rotating us. There were about sixty nurses, and we figured if they sent two a month, we'd be there for a pretty good while, you know. Because they'd send some enlisted men, send some officer. You had a quota. So that's why I wanted to find out if I really had malaria, because I'd been on the Atabrine for the whole time. We started on that when we got over there. Because they didn't have any quinine. They ran out of quinine.

HT:

What is this other drug that you keep mentioning?

SL:

It's a suppressant, malaria suppressant. You took it all the time to keep from having malaria, although some of them were on nothing. They wanted to test it out. And they ran out of Atabrine right at the beginning of the war, because my husband went to North Africa and he got the real bad malaria. He almost died at [Fort] Benning when they sent him back to Benning, from North Africa. He went over there in '42. And they had a time finding some malarian [unclear], and that's the only thing that saved his life.

HT:

So you got to come home in 1945? Back to North Carolina?

SL:

No. I flew on a C-47 and you know they're pretty slow, so we stopped in [unclear] and we stopped in Guam, because we had a whole planeload of patients. I was all right. I just had diarrhea and stuff. We had some bad patients that had to have their casts changed or something done, you know, where we stopped. So we stopped in Guam and then we stopped in Johnston Island, which is not far from Hawaii. Hawaii, and then I went to California, stayed a couple of weeks, to get a uniform to put on. They let us have anything we could think of in the world to eat. You ought to hear what some of us ate. We ate steak three times a day, and some of them drank so much milk we got sick. We could have milkshakes, anything we wanted. I weighed 112 and I was yellow, about like that, from the Atabrine.

And from there, we got assigned to a hospital, and then I flew on a C-47 to Rome, Georgia, and nobody knew where that was, so we were all standing up on the plane, helping the pilot find the landing field, near Rome, Georgia. And from there I went to Fort Bragg [unclear], a couple months leave, and went home. Then I had to go back and be interviewed to see where I wanted to be stationed in the United States. I said, “In a city, but not Walter Reed [Army Medical Center], not Washington [D.C.].” So I went to Fort Meade, Maryland. I got back in July and I think I went on duty in September or something. They fooled around in the hospitals and they gave me leave, and rehabilitated me down in Miami, Florida, right after a hurricane. Here I'd been in the tropics and they send me there for rehabilitation, with palm trees all over the ground.

HT:

What type of rehabilitation did you have to—was it like a vacation-type thing?

SL:

Well, sort of. You know, you still eat military food. That was for everybody, because I ran into—some general got on the elevator one night, because the army had taken over quite a few hotels down there, and it was full of people who had just come back. I got on the elevator and he said, “Oh, you're one of the prisoners of war,” and I said, “No, I just look like I was a prisoner.” Because I knew a lot of the nurses that were prisoners, up in the Philippines.

HT:

You mean American prisoners of war?

SL:

Yes. A lot of the nurses that had gone before the war started, over to the Philippines, from Fort Benning.

HT:

That must have been a horrible experience for those women.

SL:

That was horrible. And then for a lot of the doctors, too. I served with a doctor in Fort Monroe, Virginia, in the fifties. He was a surgeon and he had been on that death march, and he disapproved of the way they were treating the patients, so the Japs threw him down and stomped his arm until they broke it all to pieces, his right arm, and stomped him in the face. He wore a glass eye, when I knew him at Fort Monroe. But he had gotten out of the army, of course, because he was in such horrible condition, but he went back to medical college for medical training, and became an internist, because he could never operate again. But those people—the nurses had to bow to any Japanese they met, and didn't get food, and some of the friendly people knew about it and would leave stuff in garbage cans that they could get sometimes. It was awful. Have you interviewed any of them?

HT:

No, I have not.

SL:

I know some of them. I know one—

HT:

Maybe you could give me her name, because that would make a fascinating interview.

SL:

Well, she's in Virginia, and at one time—her name is Ruby Bradley, and I'd have to look her up in my roster.

HT:

Okay, that would be wonderful.

SL:

But I can get her name to you, her address. She lives in a little place up in Virginia. And I used to know some in Atlanta, but a lot of them I've lost touch with. But Ruby Bradley is still living, and at one time, she was the most highly decorated nurse in the army, and when she got out, she and I were on a bond tour in '45, when we got back from overseas.

HT:

Was she on the death march?

SL:

No, none of those nurses were on the march.

HT:

But they were captured—

SL:

They were all men.

HT:

—when the Philippines fell.

SL:

Yes. When the fighting was so bad in Manila and we got there and everybody left, Ruby was—she and another girl were stationed in Baggio. That's up in the mountains. It used to be sort of a rest area where they'd send people. Well, she just had one other nurse there and then they eventually got back with the other nurses. But they were kind of cut off there for a while. But [Douglas] MacArthur left and came down and started making his landings, you know. Where he could get photographed.

HT:

What did you think of General MacArthur?

SL:

He was too much with publicity and, for me, too—I don't know. I never knew him. I met his wife one time. But I didn't approve of him leaving up there, and I know he was more important, but leaving all those nurses up there and bringing the nurse out for his boy and all that. A lot of things he did that we heard about, but this, we had nothing to do with any of that. But he did like publicity and if we saw a plane go over with a lot of escort to it, we'd say, “There goes the general, to make another beach landing.” But anyway—

HT:

Oh, gosh. So after you had your R&R [rest and recuperation] in Miami, where did you end up next?

SL:

That's when I asked to be stationed near a city, and I went to Fort Meade, Maryland, and I stayed there until I went to Germany in '49.

HT:

So from '45 until '49, you were at Fort Meade?

SL:

Yes. I was there three years.

HT:

You didn't have any desire to get out, after the war ended?

SL:

Oh, no. I went in regular army when I went in, and I didn't want to get out. And I got to Germany before the—I was there during some of the occupation, because we were still being paid in scrip and stuck there in Heidelberg. I was lucky to get Heidelberg.

HT:

Heidelberg is a beautiful place.

SL:

It's beautiful, and I stayed right there for forty months. Because the Korean thing started, and we didn't get any replacements, so we just stayed where we were. And Frankfurt, a lot of the girls went to Frankfurt. We were at all those hospitals. I was one of the lucky ones.

HT:

What kind of hospital did you have in Heidelberg?

SL:

We had a Station Hospital, 130th. And while I was there I met Mrs. Patton. She and her son came over because the general got killed, you know, and he was sent back to Heidelberg, but that was before I arrived there. But she and her son came and they dedicated a room there in her husband's name. And then from Heidelberg, I came to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, met my husband there, and he was sent to Austria and I was sent to Fort Monroe, Virginia. Have you ever been to Fort Monroe?

HT:

No.

SL:

Sometime you should go there if you're ever up that way.

HT:

Your husband was in the army?

SL:

Yes.

HT:

Was he in the medical field?

SL:

No. No, no, no. I want nobody in the medical.

HT:

I thought you might have married a doctor or something.

SL:

I like doctors to work with and to take care of me, but I never wanted to marry one. That would be real boring.

HT:

What line of work was your husband in?

SL:

He was an infantryman. He was one of Darby's Rangers, trained in Scotland under the British commandos.

HT:

So he was an officer?

SL:

Yes, he retired as colonel. He was highly decorated. Those Rangers, most of them got killed, because they were behind the lines when Rommel was over in Africa.

HT:

So I'm sure he had some interesting stories to tell.

SL:

Oh, yeah. In fact, his nephew—my nephew, too, I call him—because his family, I'm real close with them. They're in Louisiana. But David has compiled a book that thick about my husband, and he went to the last two conventions and the general that took over the presidency, or whatever they call it, of the Ranger outfit, said he would accept it if David would help him. Of course, David was in the army two years, when he got out of college, but he just—they really praised about Jim and he wanted to get things on record about him.

HT:

So what was your rank?

SL:

Major. See, I didn't get promoted after I married.

HT:

Why was that?

SL:

That's because I went over a lot of people's heads in the nurse corps. Is that thing on?

HT:

Yes. That's fine. You can tell me. You have a wonderful story. When you came back from overseas, if we can backtrack just a minute, what was your rank at that time?

SL:

I was a captain when I came back, and I was promoted to major in Heidelberg, while I was there.

HT:

Was that usual for army nurses to be promoted like that?

SL:

No. I got promoted pretty soon.

HT:

Because I've talked to other ladies who—they stayed like second or first lieutenant their entire time.

SL:

Well, I was a captain in '44, and didn't know it, and that plane I caught a ride on—that General somebody—I can't remember his name—his aide was on the plane, and when they introduced us—he was the one who wouldn't let us fly until he changed his mind, and when we met him, he was that general's aide. General Kreuger, that was the general's name, I'm sure. Sixth Army. But when I met him, he said, “McCorquodale, Lieutenant McCorquodale.” He said, “You're a captain.”

And I said, “I am?”

He said, “Because your name's so unusual, I remember seeing it on an order that went across my desk, and when I get back to headquarters, I'm going to look it up and I'll mail you the orders.”

He said it had been six months since he saw that. So sure enough, after that, one day I get these orders and up in the corner he had written “congratulations.”

HT:

I guess things move rather slowly up at the—

SL:

I had been a captain for six months. But see, we were not getting regular officer's pay then. When I was in the war over there, I think we got ninety dollars a month or something like that.

HT:

So you were not paid—if you were a captain—

SL:

We had equivalent rank but not—

HT:

Equivalent pay. How did you feel about that?

SL:

That's what they did with women. They're just still fighting about it.

HT:

That's true.

SL:

But anyway, my maiden name, by the way—people in the army won't even know who Shirley Lyle is. My nickname is Corky.

HT:

Corky.

SL:

Because of my name. My name was McCorquodale. That's a Scottish name. My husband's father was born in Scotland. He's like you. Jim's father came from Scotland when he was five, like you said you did. I think he was about four or five when they came from Scotland to Texas. But that's how I found out I was a captain. I took the orders into the adjutant and I said, “Are these for real?” He said, “Anybody with that name signed to it—” It was whoever was secretary of the army at the time.

HT:

You said that it took a long time to find out about being promoted. How often did you guys get mail, in those days?

SL:

Not too often.

HT:

Not too often. But did you write every day to your family and that sort of thing?

SL:

No. We couldn't tell them anything. We weren't permitted to. They'd cut anything out if you told where you were or anything.

HT:

So everything was censored?

SL:

Yes. But we got stuff. They'd send me some shoes, because my feet were hard to fit and I never had any shoes that fit me while I was overseas. I wore a nine quad. A little narrow foot and I was wearing those big old boots, engineer boots. And when we went over, we had helmets. They were World War I helmets, those little shallow ones, you know. And we kept strapped, too. Mine was always falling off. Then when they tested me for a gas mask, whoever was coming to our outfit to fit us with gas masks said, “You just better throw it away,” because none of them fit me. He said, “If you ever get gas, just throw that away, because there's no way we could fit a mask.”

When I got back I went on a six-week bond tour to Philadelphia, with this Ruby Bradley and two other nurses. We didn't sell the bonds per se, but we had to appear at all the meetings, and we did get something for selling $250,000 worth of bonds while we were up around that area. But we'd bring patients from Valley Forge, you know, like amputees, and they would sit at the speaker's table and talk too, so we made up a lot of money.

And then I went on an anthropometric survey with WACs, and the head of that was a Dr. Bullen from Harvard University. She was the one woman on business staff there at Harvard, in the business school. She was a Dr. Bullen. And I did get a commendation ribbon then. We were trying to do a study to standardize medical equipment better and uniforms and, you know, things for women, too. So apparently, it helped out a little. We were up through New England, all the hospitals up the east coast.

HT:

When you were on this bond tour, did you meet any interesting or unusual people? I know when you were overseas, you met, I think you said—

SL:

Well, I met a lot of—I went to a factory one time. You'd get your assignment everyday at five o'clock, what you were supposed to do the next day, what meetings. I went to a place where a lot of Polish people were, outside of Philadelphia, and they even used an interpreter there. They were wonderful. I talked to them, they asked me questions and things. But I remember, a lot of them were Polish, and I had a pet patient in the army who was a Polish boy from Chicago. His name was longer than yours. He was nineteen, and he'd lost a leg, and he's the one—when I mentioned we got a beer ration—every day I'd give him my can of beer. He was a patient in bed. Stanley—I couldn't remember his name. I read across that paper every once in a while.

They interviewed me on the radio in Philadelphia one time, and they were asking me what interesting, you know—and I told them about Stanley and giving him my beer rations. And I can't remember if he lived in—I believe he was a Marine, but he was at Dobodura in the hospital, because when I got to Sydney on that leave they sent us on, I was walking down the street one day and somebody yelled my name, and it was this Stanley. He was going home the next day, and what was so funny, they called him “nurse's pet, nurse's pet” when I'd give him my can of beer. And he would just smile. But he and his girlfriend, in Chicago, had won a lot of prizes in their dancing. Whatever they were doing in those days—jitterbug? And he was worried about that, because they were going to get married when the war was over. And I said, “Don't you worry, Stanley. They'll get you a good leg and you'll be back winning and dancing.”

He did. He got a good prosthesis and he sent me a note one time. He and this girl finally got married, and he was afraid she wouldn't marry him, you know, because he had lost his leg. But they got married and he said they'd won some more prizes. And I've never forgotten. His name was, I believe—it was that long—Lowenboski. I don't know, I'd have to look it up.

HT:

Well, tell me how you met your husband.

SL:

One night, I'd been up to my mother's and I came back and this officer was eating dinner with all the nurses in the nurses' quarters. He and some other officer.

HT:

This was in Heidelberg?

SL:

This was in Fort Bragg.

HT:

Oh, Fort Bragg. Sorry.

SL:

And he was up there on TDY [temporary duty] from Atlanta, his Third Army Headquarters. And he'd been hurt and been in the hospital for eight months, up in Pennsylvania. And he'd just been assigned to that and then he was put on TDY with the air force liaison and they were going to have the big maneuvers. So I met him that night and then he called me and asked me to go out to dinner and we started going out to eat. I don't know, we would just be with the whole group of people around there, and I thought he was kind of conceited and smart-aleck, so I really didn't bother too much about him.

But he was very, very handsome, six three and a half and looked like a movie star, and he thought he did, too. He'd agree with me. But he was an excellent officer and everybody that ever served under him liked him. We still get calls from people that he was with. He died seven years ago. But he went over in Korea and his parachute didn't work good one time, jumping behind the lines, in 1950, and he ended up back in the States, both legs broken and his pelvis smashed up. They were jumping and it had rained the night before after they'd packed their chutes.

[End Tape 1, Side B—Begin Tape 2, Side A]

HT:

Going back to your husband, and how you met him.

SL:

Well, I met him, as I told you, at a dinner, and then, of course, I took a field group out on that maneuver that he was up there from, and they put us in a pine thicket outside of Fort Bragg. I never seen so many, what's those things that bite you? Ticks. Never seen as many ticks in my life. I refused to take a bath. We got there in that field thing they put up. I went down to bathe and they were just marching like a whole army, up and down the sides, and I just put my clothes back on and went back, and when anybody would have to go to Fort Bragg for anything, I'd bum a ride and a take a bath while they were in there, and go back. But I met him and we started dating and then he got ordered to Austria and I got ordered to Fort Monroe, Virginia.

HT:

You were not married at this time though, were you?

SL:

No. So he was going to be sent on business back to Washington [D.C.] for something and we were going to get married. I had a sister and brother-in-law up in Alexandria or somewhere, so he said we'll get married while I'm back home, get some money [unclear] because he was still getting foreign money [unclear], and we'll get married. Well, then, like on a Friday, I got a telegram and it said he wasn't coming, that the general decided to come and he'd explain it later. Well, the general's aide was standing in my office at the time, and he had been telling me that I could fly to Germany with the general, who was head of everything in the United States. He was a four-star general, General [John E.] Dahlquist. Four-star general. He was a nice man. So I said to his aide, “You suppose General Dahlquist would let me fly to Germany with him?” He had just said the general was going to Germany on Sunday. This is Friday.

He said, “Sure he'll let you go.”

I said, “Just a minute. I'm going to go get thirty days leave. I'll put every nurse to work helping me pack, and I want to go with him Sunday morning.” I went in to my commanding officer and said, “May I have thirty days leave to go to Europe to get married?”

And he said, “With who?”

I said, “With General Dahlquist's plane.”

And he said, “It's 4:40 [p.m.]. You know headquarters closes at 5:00 [p.m.]. You think they'll have time to fix your orders?”

And I said, “I'll get the orders.”

So I ran back and got the exec by the hand and I said, “Let's go to headquarters.” We ran over there. It was right close to where our hospital was. I got my orders, I went to my apartment, and called the nurses and said, “Help me pack. I'm going to leave Sunday morning and go to Germany.”

And we get over there and I called Jim. He's down in Italy, being they had closed Austria and they were going to Livorno, Italy, Camp Darby. And he said, “Where are you?” and I said, “I'm in Germany.”

“How did you get to Germany?” and I said, “General Dahlquist gave me a flight over here, and how do I get down to Livorno?”

The general had them take me to this swanky hotel and put me on the hotline to call Jim up. Helped me get on a mail plane the next day to fly down that way. Jim always told the story that, what chance did he have? Here I ended up over there with a four-star general, and he had to marry me.

HT:

I'm assuming he had asked you along the way somewhere.

SL:

Yes. He was coming back to marry me in the States. But he always made a big story out of it, told everybody that he had to marry me—I flew over there with a four-star general, and he knew he'd get kicked out of the army. But anyway, we had one [unclear]. We got married and I had to come back. I went by Washington and asked if I could be transferred to Europe. I didn't ask for where he was, I just asked for Europe. They said not until the next summer. This was in November.

HT:

Of what year?

SL:

Fifty-five. Because see, I had just come back from Germany in '52, and met him in '52 or '53. They said no, so then I go back to Fort Monroe and one day, some nurse came there, writing a book, something about the army, and I took her over to introduce her to General Dahlquist. And he said, “Major Lyle, did you hear about joining your new husband in Europe?”

And I said, “They say I can't until next summer.”

He said, “I don't think that's right, do you?”

And I said, “No, sir.”

So he said, “I know the assistant surgeon general. I don't know the general, but I'm going to write him a note.”

Well, this nurse with me said, “I'm going down there tomorrow and I'll hand-carry it to the surgeon general.” So anyway, I was back over in Europe with my husband in December, for Christmas. So I never got promoted again, but I didn't care and he didn't care.

HT:

And how long were you in the Army Nurse Corps, all told?

SL:

Twenty years, but after we got married, I stayed in five more years, to make it twenty.

HT:

So you actually retired from the Army Nurse Corps?

SL:

Yes.

HT:

So you got out in '59, then?

SL:

I got out the first of January, 1960.

HT:

And how much longer did your husband stay in the military?

SL:

He was in until '65. He had thirty years in the army. And came here and got a job downtown with the State. Worked nine years down there.

HT:

Where were you guys stationed from the mid-fifties to 1960?

SL:

Well, we were in Italy until the end of '57. I went back over there and of course I was in the army, so I was chief nurse at the hospital in Livorno and the general sent Jim up to northern Italy to take charge of a group up there, so I'd only been there two or three months and the general got me transferred up there soon as he could. So we stayed there until about '58—well, it was late '57—and we came back to Benning. Benning School for Boys. And Jim was promoted to colonel, and then he got orders in '61 back to Korea. He had been there once, before he got hurt, but he went back in—it was during that Bay of Pigs thing. So he was kept over there a little longer. He was supposed to be there a year and he was there a year and a half. I went home and stayed with my parents.

HT:

Now, did you do nursing after you retired from the military?

SL:

Jim said I retired fully—mentally, physically.

HT:

You became a woman of leisure?

SL:

I wanted to be like the others, so I made it—they bought a barbecue thing for him and he hated it. He barbecued on it twice and he said, “This is the silliest thing I've ever done. To have an air-conditioned place and go stand out in the heat and cook on the stove when I don't know what I'm doing.” So that didn't last long. I gave it away. And then I took two or three courses in painting at the museum out in California. When he came back, we were stationed at the Presidio out in California, San Francisco. So I took some art classes and I learned to play golf. Wasn't really that good but I enjoyed it. And did all the things that I'd never had time to do. That's [unclear]. He was glad when I retired. This is the only home we ever owned. We bought this in '66. He never wanted to travel once we got here. We'd go to see his relatives but he said as far as being on a cruise, he'd been on enough cruises and enough visiting countries, which was true. We'd been practically everywhere between us.

HT:

I bet that's true. Well, I just have a few more, just general questions to ask you. I don't want to overtire you too much. We've talked for quite a bit this afternoon, thanks.

Do you recall what the mood of the country was like during World War II? Of course, you were overseas and you were gone.

SL:

I was gone most of the time, but I think it was wonderful. They all pulled together and everybody was rationed. My father would hear about people pulling strings to get things. It would make him furious, because he went strictly by whatever they were issued, you know, food stamps or whatever it was.

HT:

It sounded like you really enjoyed your work, though.

SL:

I was a good nurse. I brag on myself.

HT:

But it sounded like hard work, too, under very difficult circumstances, a lot of those places overseas. I just can't imagine anybody working—

SL:

I miss nursing, because of people. I always liked people. And I've helped set up many places. Fort Benning expanded about the time I went into the army. They kept expanding the hospitals and the type of work you did. And then they've never stopped since. Everything is changed now. I wouldn't know what to do in medicine anymore. Even the people that are working now can't keep up with the changes.

HT:

Right, because technology is just changing so rapidly. It's unbelievable.

SL:

But then, we were real good nurses. We knew our patients and we knew everything about them and their families, because they liked to talk about their family.

HT:

I was in the hospital last year for an operation and the poor nurses, I felt so sorry for them. They were just so rushed.

SL:

Well, it's all those computers and books that they have to do. Now I admit, the nurses that worked around the intensive care and all those places, they get to know some of their patients. They don't keep patients in long enough to know them, and I don't approve of that. But I'm not the boss.

HT:

In your many years in the army, did you ever encounter any kind of discrimination because you were a woman?

SL:

Not really. And I was never frightened because everybody took care of everybody when I was in the service.

HT:

Of course, I was going to ask you, were you ever afraid? I mean, you were in some pretty horrible places.

SL:

Yes. Not really. And then I've had things happen in the service, like up at Fort Monroe one time, I went down to another building and was in charge of ob[stetrics]/gyn[ecology], and one lieutenant didn't want his wife to have anesthesia when she had a baby, and somewhere over that night, they gave her a shot, and the next day I get called and they said, “Be careful, because her husband went to his barracks and got a .45 and he's coming down there to kill the doctor.”

And I said, I called all the nurses and I said, “He's coming and when he gets here, I'll talk to him. I'll be waiting for him.”

And he came, he got there and he wanted to see his wife and I said, “Right this way,” and I took him in to her.

The doctor, I had got to him the message, “You better leave and go somewhere, because he may remember who was there.” And he was a little Italian doctor, scared to death. Anyway, the fellow came, but he wasn't there for long before the MPs [military police] got there.

HT:

Did he bring a revolver with him?

SL:

Yes.

HT:

Why was he so upset? Do you have any idea?

SL:

Because she had some anesthesia with that shot he gave her. He didn't want her to have it. He wanted her to have it naturally and with no medication and all that stuff.

HT:

Did she agree with that?

SL:

I don't know. But what happened, they took him to the hospital, and the last report I ever had, he was a patient at St. Elizabeth's in Washington, which is a big psychiatric hospital. Her people had to come from Pennsylvania and get her and the baby and take it to Pennsylvania, so we never really could follow the thing up. But that's one incident. And then—well, now you read it everyday, where somebody has walked in and shot half the people, and they don't even know why.

Then another time they had a discharge down at Bragg, and I got a card from somebody in New York. He said he was coming in on a bus on Saturday morning and he was going to get it all straightened out why they put him out of the army. And he was writing to the chief nurse. So I just took the card into the adjutant and I said, “I'm leaving when he gets off the bus. That'll keep him calm, maybe.” So sure enough, right at the time he said, he got off the bus and when he came, I said, “I know just the person that can help you,” and I took him in to the adjutant's office. I turned around and left then, and the adjutant talked to him and ordered him off the post and said if they heard him being on the post again, why, they'd put him in jail. And he went out and got on the bus and left, but I got a card from him. He was down at Fort Jackson, to see the chief nurse down there, to see if she could help him.

But things like that are very dangerous, but I was never afraid, really. And right before that, some person had walked in, dean of admissions at New York Hospital, or one of those hospitals up in New York, and killed everybody that was out in that room, and it was over some little something about a patient. And this fellow wrote right after that. The adjutant and everybody was kind of alarmed, because he had a little suitcase with him, a little bag he was carrying. But little things, and I've had—is that thing still on?

HT:

Yes.

SL:

Anyway, down at Bragg, one day I went out to make rounds and I met this soldier coming down the hall, stark naked, had on an old Smith cap, and he saluted me and I returned his salute and I said, “Where are you going, soldier?”

He said, “I heard that an officer I used to know is down here on the officers ward and thought I'd come and see him.”

And I said, “Well, he's not down there. I believe he was transferred.” So I got him by the arm and I believe I met everybody I've ever known in the army on that trip back to the psychiatric ward, because it was a good two miles. Nobody tried to stop me, nobody said a word, they'd salute and go walking sideways. Nobody tried to help me or anything, and I was afraid to stop, afraid he'd run.

Anyway, I walked back into the psychiatric ward and I said to the nurse, “Here's one of your patients I found up in the corridor.” Crazy thing.

HT:

Do you recall the hardest thing that you ever had to do physically?

SL:

No. I could do a lot if I got, you know, if it's something you have to do. You give it a lot of strength.

HT:

What about emotionally? What was the most difficult thing—

SL:

You always get—they say you can't permit yourself, but I think there's a lot of times you get sort of involved.

HT:

With your patients?

SL:

Well, with maybe their families or something, because—like the soldiers that would come in that would have to have an arm amputated or something. We'd have to line them up, you know, and take them, as their time came, according to what was wrong with them, and a lot of them would say, “You're not going to cut that arm off. My wedding ring's on it, on my hand, and I don't know what would happen.” And the nurses could handle patients pretty good. You'd talk to them and explain that it wouldn't make any difference. Things like that, I think you're able to cover up a lot. And I've had patients who, like even some they'd find on the street or something and they wouldn't let them [unclear]. Even when I was a student nurse, you'd help take care of them and then maybe they'd die anyway. But there's things you'd have to do. And over there, it was the same way, about getting patients back to a hospital. If they could get to a way station and they could get them out and get them back to a hospital, but it was hard.

HT:

One of the questions I usually ask the ladies is what they did for fun and social life, but you know, being overseas, I guess your social life was somewhat limited.

SL:

Up in New Guinea and up through the islands, yes. About the only people you saw were—well, they were all in the service. There just wasn't anybody else around.

HT:

Do you recall where you were on VE [Victory in Europe] Day, which was in May of '45? You were just about ready to come home at that time, the best I recall.

SL:

I was at that hospital down in Georgia when it finally ended, but I didn't come back until June or summer.

HT:

The war in Europe ended in May of '45, and then in Japan, it was July.

SL:

Maybe it was that the patients were coming back, because a lot of them were patients that had been sent back to vet hospitals, because they were all running around there, pushing people. You know, they go kind of crazy, and they had patients on litters that were bed patients and they were throwing water on everybody and acting silly like they were all so happy. But I went to [unclear] General, as I told you, when I left San Francisco, and I don't even remember how long I was there. I know I was there quite a while, while they did all the tests, and then went on leave and came back there, and then went to Miami.

HT:

I failed to ask you earlier. Did you really have malaria?

SL:

Yes.

HT:

You did.

SL:

That's when I was vomiting and had diarrhea.

HT:

So that's one of the symptoms. I didn't know what the symptoms were.

SL:

That's the symptom. You get deathly sick.

HT:

Well, what kind of impact do you think having been in the military for twenty years had on your life?

SL:

Well, it's had a lot, because I think you learn a lot from the different countries you're in and from the people in those places. I can't imagine being anywhere else, because being in twenty years and then five more with Jim, and all the people you meet and that you keep in touch with. And you ran into somebody you know every place you went, practically. But I wouldn't change any of my life.

HT:

I was going to ask you, if you had to do it all over again, would you do it again?

SL:

Yes. Some people go in, join the army, and hate it, hate every minute of it. And a lot of the nurses I knew, of course, were in for a certain time and got out, and a lot of them got married in Germany. But until I met Jim Lyle, I never even cared or thought about getting married.

HT:

Can you describe your adjustment, after being in the military for twenty years, once you became a civilian, what was that like?

SL:

Well, we came here after he retired and he thought he was going to be able to play golf and have a good time, but he got bored enough to—he had to look for a job, which I'm glad he did because it helped us a lot for him to work more, too, because when we were in the service, they didn't pay very much. And meeting people, and I think we were trying to get adjusted to civilian life like voting and, you know, because in the service, we didn't used to have to vote. We did not vote at all until after World War II, or after that war started, because you were working for the commander or whoever was president. But then, when so many civilians were called into the service, they had to arrange some way that they could vote back in their hometowns. I still feel bad that more people do not take advantage of their privilege to vote.

HT:

Right. As our last election just a few days ago is evidence of that.

SL:

I know. And it's the same way with the presidents, the Senate, Congress, everything. And we came back and we were going to be a part of the civilian community, so we broke our neck getting over to vote for school bonds and all. A lot of the people we knew that had children that were affected by that—we didn't have children—they didn't bother to go vote. They had something more important, like playing golf or doing whatever they were doing, than to go take the time to do that. I think there's too much of that in the whole United States. That's why we end up with so many poor people in jobs that they shouldn't be there. But unless you vote, how can you complain? And now the military is down so low, they don't have equipment, from what I read. The air force's planes are old, they don't get new equipment. If we ever have another war, part of it's going to be right here in the United States, because the way they can move people now, you don't have that anymore. And as you know, everything's at unrest all over the world. And no people here in the States realize what a war is, the majority of them.

HT:

That's true. Would you consider yourself to be an independent person?

SL:

Yes.

HT:

Do you think the military made you that way or were you independent before you joined the Army Nurse Corps?

SL:

I must have always been kind of independent, but it helped me.

HT:

Right. When you joined the Army Nurse Corps back in '39, did you consider yourself to be a trailblazer or trend-setter, or anything like that?

SL:

No. In fact, I wanted to be a nurse from the time I was, I guess, in high school and maybe even what now they would call junior high. And that was my one goal. Because in those days, you either taught school, you were a secretary, or a nurse, the way I did.

HT:

The options for women were so limited in those days.

SL:

That's right. And most women that got married did not work, unless they absolutely had to. They stayed home and took care of their children. That's what's wrong now. They don't know their children, because everybody's so busy with their work, which is fine if that's what they have to have. They have to have two or three cars and two of these and computers and everything, and I realize they use it now in their work, but a lot of it, they could wait until their children get older. And I don't care who would get angry with me, I think a mother should be at home when their children get home from school. And they'll say, “We can't afford it.” Do you think everybody has to have a TV? Even one for the children's room, and computers.

HT:

That's the way it is these days, unfortunately.

SL:

I know it. I think there's wonderful things with all the electronics that could be done with them, but a lot of it is not necessary, because they learn a lot of things from it that's bad.

HT:

Do you recall who your heroes and heroines were from those days?

SL:

Well, there's a lot of them. I always went by the way they handled people and whether they were liked or disliked. Of course, the presidents, I was awfully—I never had heard of him until he was President, and that's [Harry S.] Truman. I think at least he would make a decision and stick to it and he did all right, the short time he was president.

HT:

You had mentioned earlier in our conversation that Mrs. Roosevelt had come out to where you were.

SL:

Well, she did a lot of the traveling that he couldn't do, I guess. But she was in a Red Cross uniform.

HT:

What did you think of her?

SL:

I think she was a brilliant woman. I don't know that much about her, really, but I think she did a lot of good things and she did make some decisions that we didn't like. Because we had heard that she made some remark that we should all be put in quarantine in Hawaii for a while before we were brought back to the States because of the tropical diseases and things which you got, which made everybody angry when we heard that.

HT:

I've never heard of that before.

SL:

Well, we just heard it. You never know whether it was true or not.

HT:

True. Rumors and propaganda spread quite rapidly.

SL:

But nothing would surprise me.

HT:

Well, how do you feel about women in combat positions these days? You know, during the Gulf War, and even since then, women have been flying planes over Iraq, and they fly planes off aircraft carriers and things like that.

SL:

I don't think they need to be in a lot of the jobs that they have now. I think it causes a lot of hard work having them guard and everything. Even in World War II, you know, we had to have guards that paraded the perimeter of our hospitals and things. But that was different.

But now, when you integrate that much, like on ships and everything. I wouldn't like to be on a ship like that. And I think it keeps the others, the men, from doing their jobs the way it would be if there were no females there. Now that's my opinion, my personal opinion, because I know nothing about it, except that I think anybody on ship duty, it's entirely different from any kind of duty, and particularly submarine and all that stuff. Because at least when you're other places, you can get out and walk around. But that feeling about the jobs and all, I think there's many jobs they can take without being in those particular jobs.

And I'm sure a lot of women themselves would say I'm completely wrong, but it has caused a lot of problems. I sure wouldn't want to be in charge of one of those places, because I don't even believe in them making VPI and VMI and then admit women students. I think there are plenty of good schools people could go to without disrupting the whole school, and like those are well-known schools and have been all their life, unless they just want to make a name for themselves trying to break some rules, and get admitted. Don't you feel there's a lot of good schools that women could go to?

HT:

Well, I'm sort of wishy-washy on the whole deal. It's kind of a tricky situation.

SL:

I know it is.

HT:

It truly is.

SL:

It's very petty.

HT:

Well, I don't really have any more questions for you this afternoon. Do you have anything you'd like to add to the interview that we haven't covered? We've covered such a wide range of things.

SL:

A lot of it I've rambled. Haven't thought of those things for years. But I think they've made great strides in medicine, because when you think, when I was working, we had penicillin, and we didn't have that to start with. But we, I don't think we lost too many patients from not having attention.

HT:

I think the patients probably got very good care from you, it sounds like.

Well, Mrs. Lyle, I want to thank you for talking with me this afternoon. It's been a great pleasure.

SL:

Well, I hope I didn't ramble about too much.

HT:

No, you told some wonderful stories.

SL:

But when you start thinking, you don't get it coordinated very well.

HT:

That's all right. Thank you again.

SL:

Everybody used to say to me, “Wonder why you don't write a book?” and I'd say, “Because I'd get killed by somebody if I wrote a book.” I used to just think it was funny, but some of them are still coming out with books and stories.

HT:

That's true.

[End of interview]