December 21, 1942 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

December 21, 1942

No. 1

Dear Folksies,

       Here I am sitting on deck, on the wood padded by my life preserver, listening to the usual daily band concert. Lois is beside me and I notice she is also writing to you, so you may get some repetition. But since you haven’t had any mail from this quarter for some time, 2 letters, even though they say the same thing will no doubt be welcome.

       Our trip to date has been O.K. though I must admit that my actions on the Leviathan 19 years ago were far more commendable than were my actions the first two days out this time. Yes, the first afternoon of motion kind of got me a bit unsteady and then waiting in line for dinner and crowded stairs where it was hot and stuffy put the finishing touches on everything, so I rapidly declined dinner and made for the rail.

       I wasn’t much better off outdoors, so, though our rooms were pretty stuffy I felt much better flat on my bunk and consequently spent most of the next day in that position. That second day of motion I managed to eat and keep breakfast, but couldn’t stay more than a few minutes for dinner. Though, on my bunk, I later enjoyed a couple of turkey sandwiches Lois brought me. Since that day, however, I’ve felt fine and have long since made up for the missed meals.

       Lois has been a regular sailoress and though she was bad for a couple of days, having a bum cold (which many have had), she has more than done justice to the ship’s cook. We are served only two meals per day – our bunch gets in at the second sitting and the new head nurse and Marv Kahn got together and did some fineegling so that Lois and I are not only at the same table but are next to each other. We sit at a long table opposite Carroll Russell and Bret Smart – the latter two continually heckle Lois about her appetite. They kid her about getting fat and how she’d get stuck in a port hole if she tried to get out of the ship that way; how she’d better watch out or I won’t marry her if she’s fat, etc. It’s really a kick and Lois is in hysterics through all the meals.

       At the other side of Lois are Fran, Gert and Bam and opposite them are Armanini, Halter, Drew and Bryner. Poor Halter has also taken somewhat of a ribbing about his lack of appetite and his peculiar taste. He eats all the queer things that appear on the menu daily, such as salted herring, tripe, codfish with pork scraps, etc. And not only for breakfast, but for dinner, too!! Of course, besides these things he never can make up his mind which of the entrees he wants, so he just naturally has to have both. Why, even Lois doesn’t keep up with Halter!

       We have really had excellent meals all along: rare roast beef, turkey, veal, and even duck. We’ve also had ice-cream for dinner a couple of times, though jello has been the dessert a good part of the time. Dinner for us comes at 6:00PM and breakfast at 8:30AM, so we generally make a sandwich at breakfast for our luncheon, and with an apple or orange to add to that we manage to survive between meals.

       I’m in a cabin with Drew, Carlson, Bryner, Hamilton, George Davis, Cy Johnson an engineer (Geissler) and one other fellow. The bunks aren’t bad at all, though at night it gets sorta stuffy.

       Fresh water is scarce and only used for drinking purposes, and occasionally for a little shaving or sponging. Taking a shower in cold salt water certainly leaves one nice and sticky and not feeling any cleaner, so we’ve all sort of had our nasal mucosa become less and less sensitive to such odors. And as we sit on the floor of the deck frequently (their being no chairs, of course) our clothes are beginning to stand up in the corner by themselves at night.

       We are able to be together for about 15 hours of the day and have spent almost all but our meal hours on deck. During the day we have played quite a bit of bridge, but every so often it gets a bit too windy and though so far we haven’t lost any cards over the side, we have been forced to quit frequently when the ship changes its course and leaves our previously protected corner exposed to the elements. We also have played some chess and occasionally do some reading. We found a copy of Cyrano on the boat, and we’ve read some to each other, but it is a bum translation so not as enjoyable as it might be.

       The ship has a broadcasting set-up so that there is music from recordings heard most of the day. In the afternoon there is a band concert on deck and it is usually pretty good. In the evening there is always a program being broadcast over the boat (inside) – local talent performing, but I haven’t heard much of this as it‘s been much too nice on deck to miss the fresh air available there.

       Several of the gals have been sick – some of them even spent a good part of the trip in the hospital. Ag Alkiere and Miss. Bell were the sickest and Chris Colletti likewise was pretty bum for a few days. All are now O.K. however.

       I imagine that by the time you get this, it will be well into the New Year. I hope all had a good Xmas and brought the new year in right. We will be thinking of you even more on these days.

       Well ‘tis all for now.

                      With loads of love to all of you,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
December 30





René, Lois and the rest of the 59th Evac. Unit departed from New York on December 12, 1942 on the Uruguay, heading for Casablanca, Morocco. When launched in 1927, the ship, originally dubbed SS California, was the world’s first major ocean liner built with turbo-electric transmission and the largest merchant ship yet built in the United States. In 1938 the California was renamed Uruguay and from 1942 to 1946 she was operated as a United States Army Transport ship (USAT). She was returned to civilian service as SS Uruguay in 1948, laid up in 1954 and scrapped in 1964.



Hear what Gert Brazil had to say about the trip to Casablanca on the Uruguay…



December 30, 1942 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

December 30, 1942

Casablanca, Morocco

No. 2

Dear Folksies,

       Here I am, having unfortunately been unable to write for the last 8 or 9 days. My first letter since leaving was on the 21st and I hope that by now you have received it. Unfortunately, the day after we arrived here it was decided that no more unofficial cables could be sent, so I was unable to let you know that everything was O.K. I hope that you haven’t been too worried over the fact that you didn’t receive any word from us before this. The Padre was the only one who was able to send any cables and he sent one to a friend of his at the Hospital, so perhaps that person told Mrs. Noonan and possibly you have heard via her – I hope so!!

       We are allowed to tell you that we are “Somewheres in Africa.” It’s a funny place as both Alain and Claude can tell you. Right now I’m sitting in our tent trying to type by the light of two candles and a gasoline lamp. The wind is blowing so much outside that our lamp won’t work correctly and the candles have gone out on me several times in the last few minutes. I may be continuing this in the dark, so don’t be too surprised at some of the crazy mistakes I may make. Oh, Oh, it just now began to pour outside… Changed my location in the tent to a less windy spot so I may now be able to continue more or less in peace.

       As our ship pulled into dock here, the band began playing. And what should they be playing but Stanford’s “Come Join the Band” and University of California’s “Sturdy Golden Bear.” It gave us a funny, yet awfully good, feeling.

       We really had a wonderful Christmas Eve. We are situated out of town a ways, by a cemetery, and that first night the men were far better off than we were. They had their tents and blankets and we had nothing but what we wore off the boat — our coats and raincoats and long underwear. There was a load of hay there and we managed to fix ourselves a fairly comfortable spot. I was between a couple of bales of hay with George Davis and we were not too bad off. Then all of a sudden, it seemed as if a whole bunch of locusts descended on us, for we were practically without any hay in no time at all. What had happened was that another outfit came around and their officer told the men to take a bale for every two men — and none of our boys were fast enough to stop them and those that might have didn’t know whether we were supposed to have the hay or not. Anyhow, we spread a little hay under us, and Davis, the Padre and I huddled together and froze for the rest of the night. And that was our Christmas Eve — true Baby in the Manger stuff — but we didn’t even have the roof over our heads.

       Christmas morn, Davis and I set out for town. Of course, we had no transportation other than our own feet, but we managed O.K. My prime reason for going with George was to find out where the nurses were located, but before more than a couple of hours I found myself as unofficial assistant supply and transportation officer for the outfit. Since then, George and I have been working together, and I must modestly admit, that if it hadn’t been for the two of us, the men and officers would be in quite a spot here. We worked like fiends down at the docks getting our equipment that had come with us — trying to get our bed rolls (sleeping bags) and foot lockers, so that we wouldn’t freeze at night any longer than necessary.

       The way we went about things reminded me of a certain 24 year old young man in 1906 — vehicles commandeered, etc. We worked late that evening so that we had some tents and cots and blankets for the officers that night, and then finally around 10P.M., we managed to get out to the school where the gals were located. Yes, we get there only to find that all of the important ones were gone — gone to a party with the bloomin’ air corps boys. Lois had left a note that they’d be back at 11 P.M., in case we showed up. They had been told that George and I were working like beavers and they also figured that we might have difficulty finding their place – particularly at night with blackout conditions.

       Well, we waited for them and around 11 P.M. they showed up and we were able to stick around until 1 A.M. Then Bishop, George, and I walked home — walked home down the middle of the streets, looking to right, left, and behind as frequently as we could turn our heads. We finally were able to bum a ride for about the last mile back to our area.

       The next day George and I set out again trying to get transportation, tents, some cots and two blankets apiece. But we were still plenty cold, so we determined to get our bed rolls if it were humanly possible. Well, some of the bed rolls started to show up and then the Sgt. who was with me and I decided that if they continued showing up as slowly as they were doing, only a few of our officers would be sleeping warm that night. As a consequence, we took 5 of our men and during the 2 hours that the crew unloading the ship took off for dinner, we went into the hold of the ship and ran the elevator down to the lowermost hold and picked out the foot-lockers and bed rolls that belonged just to our bunch. By the time we were done, we were worn out and filthy, but we had located all but one of the bed rolls that belonged to us. There were a few foot lockers that we hadn’t found, but which turned up easily the next day.

       Since that first day I have continued to assist George, using my rather poor, though fast improving, French to get most of the things we have needed. It’s really been lots of fun. Yesterday we opened up for business out here in the field and we are now working with patients.

       I am living with George in one of the supply tents, whereas the rest of the officers are in three large tents together. The main advantage of being with George is the transportation angle — if there is any, we have access to it and control over it.

       Last night there was a New Years Eve Party down at the gals’ place. It was pretty good, with plenty of port wine floating around, besides the sandwiches, etc. As Lois has told you, they have a pretty good set-up there, living in what used to be a school building. They have a nice dining room there and the only two things they haven’t got are hot water and heat – otherwise they are pretty well off.

       The gals have been treated pretty royally because they were the first nurses to arrive, and the air-corps men really have swarmed around their place. The gals even had a party given for them that first night we arrived – and here we lay out in the hay freezing to death while the air-corps was taking the gals out. Such is life!

       Most of the gang have been able to take time off and go into town to one of the hotels for showers occasionally, but George and I have been so busy that we have yet to taste such luxury. However, the third day we were here we did manage to get back onto the boat we came on and fineegle a nice hot shower there. But we had worked so hard and long the rest of the day – wrestling with the bed rolls and foot-lockers ourselves, that the effects of the shower didn’t last very long.

       We have had some news that Col. Monroe is O.K. and having a pleasant time in Africa not too far from us, so it may be that we will be seeing him again in the months to come. It’s funny, a lot of our men have run accidentally into their brothers, brothers-in-law, cousins, etc. in other outfits that are in this neck of the woods – relatives they hadn’t seen for many months while in the U.S.

       It’s funny walking around town here because one is constantly besieged by little kids asking for “Chewing gum,” Smoke,” or “Shoe Shine.” For most, that is the extent of their vocabulary in English. In one hotel someone taught the elevator boy a few words, so now he greets everyone in the morning with “Good morning, you son of a bitch!” — all that with a bright cheery smile on his face. And so it goes!

                      Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
January 2


Lt. George Davis — transportation and supply officer.




Downtown Casablanca




Former Ecole de Jeunes Filles — where the nurses from the 59th Evac. Unit are living in January 1943 in Casablanca.



Hear what Nurse Gert Brazil had to say about the nurses’ first night in Casablanca…




Soldiers getting shoes shined by local boys.



January 2, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

January 2, 1943

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Gram,

       Here we are, set up in our tents, functioning as a hospital for the last few days. Right now it isn’t bad at all despite the mud and slush that we have to slide through to get anywhere around here. However, we are lucky enough to be on relatively high ground and when it stops raining the water drains off pretty fast. We have rapidly realized that Africa is not just one big desert – probably one can find almost any kind of weather somweheres on this continent. We have had a few days typical of San Francisco foggy weather, though I didn’t think that S.F. has ever been quite as cold as we have had it here. In fact, surprisingly enough, we had a slight amount of snow fall here a few days ago.

       Fuel has been quite a problem, so we have to resort to clothes and more clothes to keep warm. There have been a lot of colds floating around because of this, but so far I have been pretty lucky, though Lois has had a bum cold for the last week. At that the gals are far better situated than we are. They are in an old girls’ school building and are at least plenty dry. However, the fuel problem applies to them as well and their building is almost constantly cold.

       I have been unofficially working in the Supply & Transportation Dept of the hospital, and as a consequence have been able to get down to see Lois more often than I would have had I just stuck around our hospital area all day. Now, however, since our hospital is getting into full swing, the amount of time we are able to be away from the area is naturally limited.

       Despite the conditions we are working under – which certainly are far from bad, it is good to be working. And though we would all naturally rather be back in S.F. it’s far better than sitting around on the east coast of the U.S. twiddling our thumbs as we did for so long.

       It’s been kind of fun trying to get things that we need in Supply because it has taxed my poor French. However, with the aid of a little dictionary and my pronunciation (which has probably been about the only decent thing I have remembered) I have been doing O.K. and am fast improving. So far, I’ve managed to get everything I have gone after.

       Water has been quite a problem here, just as has fuel. There is water, of course, but to get it out to our area is another thing and because of the fuel problem, hot water is difficult to get. We are unable to take baths or showers in our own area so we go down to town when possible to get showers. George Davis (the Supply Officer) and I have been so busy that it wasn’t until yesterday when we managed to get down for a shower ourselves. The girls have almost the same problem, though they have the facilities for showers in their place – they only have hot water for a couple of hours a day and, of course, the first one who jumps in gets showered and the others may be out of luck.

       We had quite a New Years’ Eve party down at the gals’ place. Besides our own bunch there were several officers from other outfits and with music supplied by victrola records and a radio, we did O.K.

       There naturally isn’t much to do around here but work – and after all that’s what we’re here for, but it is interesting to wander around a little in the daytime.

       Hope you all had a nice Xmas and New Years’ Day and that the New Year will be a Happier one for all.

Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
January 7


Enlisted men’s tents in Casablanca




59th Evac. Hospital Supply & Transportation Department




Gert Brazil & Lois McFarland in Casablanca



Entry from the personal journal of  Philip Westdahl, MD, about an event René didn’t/couldn’t write about to his family:

“December 31, 1942 3AM to 5AM – we undergo our first air-raid. I put on my helmet and clothes and lie beside by cot and pray that for the sake of Georgia and our baby, everything goes well – and it does! We see only 2 German bombers in the beam of our searchlights. The spray of red-hot tracer bullets is quite a sight – one nicks the tail of a bomber but she keeps going. We spend the afternoon digging a slit-trench! We expect another reception tonight – but the Germans disappoint us. Our first patients arrived today – mostly convalescents from the hospital in town.”



Hear what Gert Brazil had to say about the nurses’ experience of the air raid…



January 13, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

January 13, 1943

No. 4

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Folksies,

            My last letter was written, I see, 6 days ago. I shall try to write more often in the future, but as you can well realize it’s pretty difficult to write without fear of saying something censorable. However, knowing how I like to receive mail, and knowing how you likewise like to hear, I shall try to get a note off somewhat more often.

         We are getting set up here pretty nicely now, having improved the area to a great extent, so that when it does rain now we are not wallowing around in slushy mud. We have hauled sand and gravel and have put in nice walks throughout our area. We have set up our x-ray and operating room tents but so far have not used either at all. I am still working with George in Supply as their is no operating going on, and there are not as yet enough patients to go around. The Colonel has sort of taken for granted now that I can get almost anything through various channels, by requisitioning or finagling or talking people out of things, so he seems to cook up new things for me to get every day. I kind of think that some of the 1906 heritage is showing up, though to a lesser degree.

         We continue with more or less the same routine – hustling for things during the daytime and then often in the evenings either reading a bit, going to bed early, or going over to Lois’ and playing bridge or sitting in the garden there.

         It’s pretty hard to do anything around here at night as everything closes early. And with blackout it isn’t safe to walk around much (if at all), much less with a gal, and the transportation problem is a difficult one. The gals are not allowed to ride in anything except carriages or private autos when on pleasure, but the carriages are supposed to be off the streets by 8:30P.M., and private cars are hard to get (the army having bought practically all when they first arrived here.)

         Lois and I have gone into town for dinner a couple of times – eating at places approved by the Medical Dept. of the Army, and we have had some pretty good food, however meat is pretty scarce and we have so far only had fish or omelets. The split-pea soup we had, however, along with the French bread, has been worth it, particularly with such things so cheap. For instance, two meals cost only 65 Francs, and with Francs at 75/$1.00 it ain’t bad.

         One night Lois and I were lucky enough to be included in a party at the apartment of some Majors and Lt. Colonels. The apartment was on the top floor of the tallest building here, and it was really a beautiful apartment, having belonged to a French officer and his wife. With the officer away in the Army now, these majors had rented the place. One of the Lt. Colonels is Col. William Westmoreland, who is going around with Bambi these days. He is a West Pointer of only a few years ago and was commander on the boat we came on. He is one heck of a swell fellow. We are supposed to be going out with “Westie” and Bam tomorrow night but don’t know if we will be able to.

         The girls are now working out here during the day time, and Lois has been on duty for the last several days. However, she turned up with a sort throat and slight temp. today so is back in bed. She’ll be O.K. no doubt in a day or two, but there are a lot of upper respiratory, particularly sinus stuff, going around.

         We got a message from Col. Monroe the other day and he apparently was overjoyed to hear that we were in the vicinity, and he intends to come down and see us in the near future when he gets a breathing spell. He didn’t know that he was a Grandfather, so Lois sent word up to him about that.

         Just broke open the peanut-brittle can from Blum’s that I believe Tante Marie sent us a couple of months ago when we were at Pickett. Still have the CoffeeTeen can, also from Blum’s that Claude and Paulette sent at the same time. I haven’t yet had the time to open it with ceremony befitting anything of that sort from San Francisco. Anyhow, it’s here – at the bottom of my foot-locker. And incidentally, chocolate, other than that in the K-rations is awfully scarce here. We get a lot of lemon drops and some hard sugary candy, but could stand some good stuff – preferably in cans or some such hard container – nothing fancy, but could naturally use anything along that line.

         Just heard that the gals are probably going to move out here in tents in a few days, as they have to vacate the school they are now in – it is going to be used, I believe, for another hospital. It will be kind of nice to have L. out here, but it will be kind of rugged for them, particularly the bathing facilities or lack of them. Also, from here it is going to be hard to do anything or go anywhere at night. Some of the gals are definitely not going to like it as it is so far from their Q.M., Air Corps, Engineer, etc. boyfriends to come. And there won’t be any place to entertain them like they have at present at their school building.

         Yes, we are beginning to have our own little tent-city out here. In fact, the Col. was today talking about putting in a regular barber establishment and a pressing unit in one of our tents.

         We see some funny sights around here. They have a lot of small donkeys and they load them so that you can hardly see anything but the load, and by golly the donkeys are so small you really expect the Arabs to be carrying the donkey in the first place. But no, they load them up and then climb on top of the load themselves. There are some camels around, not a great many, but they are awful dirty animals and the less I see of them the happier I will feel.

         Apparently there is quite a good deal of Typhus around here in the Arab population, but as yet none in soldiers. There are also some plague and smallpox cases in natives, and quite a bit of malaria. Malaria has cropped up in a few soldiers, but not many. All of our own men are O.K.

 Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
January 17


Moving X-ray equipment




While René reports that “The gals are not allowed to ride in anything except carriages or private autos when on pleasure…and private cars are hard to get,” Gert Brazil managed to find a car for her to drive, as shown in this photograph near the Ecole de Jeunes Filles where the nurses are living.


Listen to what Nurse Gert Brazil had to say about Bam (Charlotte Bambino) and Westie (William Westmoreland)




View of Casablanca with the port in the distance.







René expressed his negative impression of camels, a view evidently not shared by Colonel Bolibaugh.


January 30, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

Here’s are excerpts from a letter that Lois wrote to René’s parents and his sister, Barbara (known as Bobsy).



January 30, 1943

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Mommie, Dad & Bobsy,

        Here we are, out in tents. It’s not a bit bad. There are 5 of us in each one, and best friends are together. I’m in with Fran Trembley, Charlotte Bambino, Gertrude Brazil and Martha Morris. I wish there could’ve been 7 in a tent, so Pat Barry and Ag Alkire could be with us too.

       René & Col. B. & George Davis took a short trip yesterday on business, and while there had dinner with my Uncle, Tom Monroe. I wish I could’ve been with them. I’m awfully anxious to see him. Perhaps later…

     We eat our meals 30 min. before the officers. So far, I’ve seen no more of René out here, than when we were in town. We were together for a few minutes last nite, but only had time to exchange letters, and even then, I didn’t finish reading all of his.

     Tonite is our nite out and I’m hoping we can do something. The Col. has given his O.K. on our riding into town in jeeps.

     I hope this finds you all well. René and I are both in the pink.

                                  With loads of love,

                                               Lois

.

Watch for René’s next letter
January 31


Three of the five nurses who shared a tent: Lois, Gert Brazil and Martha Morris.



Hear what Gert Brazil had to say about moving into tents…



March 12, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

March 12, 1943
No. 16

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Folksies,

       Tonight has been finally set aside for letter writing and I hope that it will actually turn into a letter writing night, instead of all good intentions going to h____ as they have in the past.

       I’m thrilled that the mail gets through as well as it has – of course, from time to time a letter shows up that was written a couple of months before, and ‘tis certainly most confusing. But the post offices certainly have a tremendous job and they have done it well, I believe. There is certainly nothing like the mail and mess calls to pep up a gang of men.

       I’m sorry to hear that Gram has been ill, but glad that she is on the mend again. I’ve had a ticklish cough for a while – in fact darn near everyone has – probably because of changing weather. One minute sunny and hot as the deuce inside the tents, and then the next minute raining cats and dogs and cold with a chilly wind. Yep, ‘tis a strange country alright.

       None of us are taking quinine as yet and I know of no ruling at the moment. We are instituting rather strict mosquito control, sleeping under individual netting, etc., but no medication as prophylactic is being used as yet.

       As to the Ghirardelli’s, ‘tis appreciated far more this way than it ever was back home. Besides that, Lois is a pretty good fudge maker. Oh oh, she is sitting beside me, using my typer on some other letters and she just made me admit that it is really more than pretty good. In fact, among the Supply crew she now has quite a reputation, so much so that one of our sergeants has called her on the phone asking for fudge for the 11 P.M. snack in their tent.

       You mention listening to the opera and that reminds me that we have some pretty good radio programs over here also – re-broadcasts of Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, concerts, etc. Sometimes we have radio difficulty, but ordinarily it comes through pretty well.

       Since last writing, things have changed a bit around here. We have had to set up a Communicable Ward, and who was more qualified to run it but, yes, me. As a consequence I now have a regular medical ward and two isolation wards. It has been quite a stunt setting up an isolation ward in a tent, but we have managed pretty well. Have a few Liberty or is it now “V” measles cases, a couple of plain measles, a couple of mumps, a typhoid and a meningococcemia. 

       One of the most interesting cases was a soldier in his twenties who was well until getting off the ship, when he developed a headache, which persisted for 10 days, following which time he entered here showing nothing but a moderately sore throat. He had only a couple of tenths of a degree of fever, however, he soon refused to eat, became pretty unmanageable, getting up out of bed and doing things people should not do in polite society. Then, by golly, he became semi-comatose, would not swallow and wouldn’t answer at all. Spinal revealed 44 cells, mostly lymphs, and a positive Kahn.

       He plugged along the same all that day, getting feedings through a stomach tube, and then late that afternoon back came the report from the lab that his spinal Kahn was negative but that his blood Kahn was very strongly positive. Well, rather than wait for a second Kahn on the blood – since I thought the man probably wouldn’t be around much longer – I gave him some Mapharsen right then and there.

       The next morning there seemed to be improvement, and by that night, by golly, the guy was semi-conscious again, could see (oh yes, he had a facial paralysis the day the mapharsen was given) and responded somewhat to our talking. Yesterday he was even better. We took out the stomach tube and he took plenty by mouth. Today we could understand some of the things he was saying, he could move around sufficiently and, all in all, he seems to be on the mend. Cause and effect? You tell me!

       We’ve had two other strange cases. These two boys were on different wards and turned up with stories most suggestive of perinephric or subdiaphramatic abscesses, with right-upper-quadrant tenderness and palpable masses supposedly, and large livers. Stools completely negative and counts between 10,000 and 20,000. The first was given emetin for no very good reason. Result: cure. The second was operated on and nothing but a large, normal liver found. Got no better, emetin given. Result: cure.

       All three of these cases can’t be coincidences, or can they? As Bill Reilly said this morning, we have to give ourselves and the drugs a little credit once in a while. We’re certainly not curing these patients just by ward rounds – or maybe it’s the lack of rounds.

 Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

My letter continues tomorrow…
March 13


When she’s not caring for patients or washing her clothes (as she’s seen doing here) Lois might be found making delicious fudge to share with various members of the 59th Evac.


Listen to what Gert Brazil had to say about the fudge that Lois made…




One of the two isolation wards that René is running (caring for patients with communicable diseases) in addition to his regular medical ward.



April 12, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

April 12, 1943
Continuation of No. 19

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Folksies,

       I have about $180 plus $40 in Traveler’s Checks on hand, so I shall wait a little and then send some on. I am waiting to see what new stuff might have to be bought when we change into summer clothing, instead of the woolens that we are still wearing.

       The PX here is getting things rather adequately and I really can’t think of many things that I would want that they aren’t able to get here. However, one thing I would like is a good pair of dark glasses – I have mine but I recently split the frame and have it taped together. So, if you can manage to pick up a good pair, I would like one. Good camera film and printing paper for films are hard to get, and in fact impossible to get now, so the more of that you can pick up, the better.

       Pete Joseph is doing better, as is Cy Johnson. Gee, I don’t believe I told you about Cy. He has a nice duodenal ulcer, and though ‘tis a reason for sending men home, he doesn’t want to and they are treating him conservatively at the hospital. Boston therapy I guess. Anyway, he is doing fairly well. This morning, George Wood had his gall-bladder and two nice-sized stones yanked out of him at the same place. He wanted Mattie to do the job, but the other C.O. wouldn’t allow such an interchange. George has been bothered for a few weeks and Mattie said that when opened he had a subacute gall bladder with two fairly large stones, none in the duct and no swelling of the duct, but some minor thickening of the head of the pancreas, probably from the inflammation.

       George Davis’ promotion party that we had was really pretty good. Those there were: The Col., Collie, Cane, Cohn, Fadley, Chappell, Davis and me. The females were, in order of “withs”: Irene Gallagher, Johnson, Bambino, Delpech, Ann Dunn, Liz and Lois. We had a large table at one of the restaurants out a ways, had specially cooked steaks an all-around specially cooked meal. Had plenty of wine and some champagne.

       Hamilton, Bill Newsom and I rotate being on call for anesthetics for 24 hours in a row, and thus we only work there one of our 3 days – from one noon to another. The other day the phone rang and Roy Cohn had a case he wanted some Pentothal given to, so he could manipulate a fractured femur. I barely got done with that when Mattie had an appendix that needed a spinal. And so it goes.

       Besides being on anesthesia call and besides having the one ward that I have now, I am Louis Huff’s assistant on the surgical team that is on call about once every 7 days. The other night I fixed up a gunshot wound of the foot and a dislocated elbow, but otherwise nothing exciting happened.

       Down in Isolation they now have about 4 different guys running the place and things have slacked off somewhat. I’m glad that I’m out of there now, but it was good activity for a while. While I’m on that kind of a subject, I thought you’d be interested to know what Chuck Schwartz said to me the other day. He told me that he’d rather have Lois on his ward than anyone else, because she isn’t afraid to do anything on her own on the ward, and now all he has to do is order I.V.’s to be gotten and though the officers give them on all the other wards, Lois is the official I.V. giver on the wards she works on – and it seems she never misses.

 Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

More of this letter to come on
April 13


George Wood had his “gall-bladder and two nice-sized stones yanked out of him.”




George had wanted Mattie to do his surgery, but that wasn’t allowed.




René proudly tells his parents that Chuck Schwartz told him that “he’d rather have Lois on his ward than anyone else, becuase she isn’t afraid to do anything on her own on the ward.” Lois (in the middle) with Ann Scheisman (left) and Gert Brazil (right)



Listen to what Gert Brazil had to say about the creatures that shared their tent in Casablanca.




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