U S Army Nurses Killed

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    The first female member of the military killed in the line of duty was World War I Army nurse Edith Ayres. Nurse Ayres (nurses held no rank during World War I) was killed on May 20, 1917, while with Base Hospital #12 aboard the USS Mongolia en route to France. The ship’s crew fired the deck guns during a practice drill, and one of the guns exploded, spewing shell fragments across the deck and killing Nurse Ayres and her friend Nurse Helen Wood.

    Army Nurse Edith Ayers, Attica, Ohio. Killed May 20 1917 in an accident aboard the USS Mongolia, enroute to France.
    Army Nurse Helen Burnet Wood, Evanston, Ill. Also killed aboard the USS Mongolia.


    The accident on shipboard which cost the lives of two nurses of the unit is well known, for those nurses were among the very first Americans to lose their lives in service after our entry into the war. When the boat, the S. S. Mongolia, was only a few hours out, and target practice was being carried on, pieces from an exploding shell killed Mrs. Edith Ayres, Illinois Training School nurse of the class of 1913, and Miss Helen Wood of the Evanston Hospital Training School; Miss Emma Matzen, also of the Illinois Training School class of 1913, was wounded. The ship returned at once to New York. Miss Matzen was sent to the Presbyterian Hospital of New York City, where she made a good recovery. Mrs. Ayres was buried with military honors at her home in Attica, Ohio.

    Illinois Training School for Nurses
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    The body of Helen Burnett Wood was taken back to Chicago. Miss Wood’s home put on a massive display for the dead nurse. At Union Station her body was met by a delegation including people from both Chicago and Evanston. It was headed by John W. Scott, Vice president of the Chicago Chapter of the Illinois Branch of the American Red Cross. From the station the body was taken to Helen’s home in Evanston. Friends requested that rather than flowers, donations be sent to her aging parents in Scotland. On Saturday 26 May the coffin was escorted by fifty blue jackets from the Great Lakes Training Center and by fifty automobiles containing representatives of the Red Cross, the medical reserve corps, the city of Evanston, friends and relatives. The somber procession proceeded from her home on Sheridan Road to the First Presbyterian Church. Outside the church stood an honor guard of fifty Red Cross Nurses, fifty students from Northwestern University wearing black gowns and capes, fifty nurses from Evanston Hospital, and twenty-five uniformed members of the Grand Army of the Republic. Clergymen from three different denominations, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist, offered prayers, and the president of the Chicago chapter of the American Red Cross expressed his sympathy

    Attica Ohio received the remains of Edith Ayres with equal ceremony. Her body arrived at Chicago Junction, Ohio, on Thursday, May 24. Here it was met by a team from the Ohio National Guard. At the junction thirty-two automobiles, most of them filled with family friends and dignitaries, escorted the “auto-hearse” on a slow drive cross-country to Attica. Edith’s funeral took place on the same day as Helen’s. On that Saturday all businesses in Attica were closed. On the preceding Thursday and Friday schools were closed. Representatives of the American Red Cross and the Governor of Ohio sent condolences. From 11:00 until 2:00 she Edith lay in state in a flag-draped coffin inside the First Methodist Church as the people she had grown up slowly filed past. At the grave site a military salute was fired. Everything was as dignified and respectful as it could be made.

    Death on the Mongolia


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