Women in Wartime: Nursing

Lt. Marilyn Cedarleaf

Lt. Marilyn Cedarleaf

Marilyn Cedarleaf, the daughter of Swedish immigrants, was born in Rockford in 1921.  She trained as a nurse at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago and graduated in 1943.  In 1945, at the age of 24, she went with a friend to the Red Cross on Wabash Ave. to get information about joining the war effort.  Marilyn wasn’t sure that she wanted to go, but she got a hard sell from the recruiter and signed up that day.  Social pressures of wartime often influenced volunteers for service.

Marilyn went to basic training at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, then Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania, and lastly at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey.  She and a friend from Camp McCoy stuck together throughout their service.

Nurses Training at Camp McCoy

Nurses Training at Camp McCoy

Nurses Training at Camp McCoy

Nurses Training at Camp McCoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photos courtesy of Lieutenant General Richard R. Taylor’s Medical Training in World War II.  Medical Department, United States Army)

After basic training, they and 200 other nurses set sail for Europe.  Marilyn described the trip as scary.  They had to turn their lights off at night, and one time she got in trouble for having her porthole open.  Their ship landed in Scotland on May 8, 1945 – VE Day.  They went to England to receive their assignments before heading back to Glasgow to a general hospital to treat soldiers.  Many of those Marilyn treated were POWs, which she remembered as being a very sad time. They cared for a train load of wounded every day or two.

Marilyn’s nursing uniform with cap.

Marilyn’s nursing uniform with cap.

After the hospital closed, she went to France from hospital to hospital, moving around by ambulance.  In Marseilles, she was getting ready to go to China but her orders were cancelled when the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan.  Instead, she was sent to Belgium before being discharged as a First Lieutenant.

Marilyn’s dress uniform.

Marilyn’s dress uniform.

These decorative pitchers are made from bullet and shell casings and represent trench art.  Trench art dates back to the Napoleonic Wars, but is most often found from the World War I.  This type of art is directly linked to armed conflict.  Marilyn’s trench art, seen below, was made in Belgium and commemorates the places she traveled during her service.

Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Holland, 1945-1946

Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Holland, 1945-1946

Lt. Ruth M. Cedarleaf 12th Field House

Lt. Ruth M. Cedarleaf
12th Field House

WWII Trench Art 2

Glasgow, London, Paris (1945 inscribed on back) and Geneva, Le Mans, Liege (1946 on inscribed on back)

Glasgow, London, Paris (1945 inscribed on back) and Geneva, Le Mans, Liege (1946 on inscribed on back)

Become a Nurse

Upcoming Event!!!  World War II Days

Saturday, September 21, 2013  11 am – 5 pm

Sunday, September 22, 2013  11 am – 4 pm

Midway Village Museum hosts the largest World War II era re-enactment in the United States with over 1,000 uniformed re-enactors from 40 states representing soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, France, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Japan, Italy and Germany along with vintage tanks, halftracks and other 1940s era military vehicles!

World War II Days includes elaborate and realistic battles complete with tanks, artillery, armored vehicles, and exciting pyrotechnic displays. Saturday the battle shows are featured at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm. Sunday the battle time is 2:30 pm. Maps of the event site will be available when visitors arrive showcasing the battlefield and the various encampments and attractions. The event will be held rain or shine.

 One Day Admission Cost

$12 adults; $6 for children (3 to 17); and free for World War II veterans and Museum Members

Two Day Pass Cost
Two day event passes are $18 for adults; $9 for children (there is too much to see it all in just one day!)

For more information on event details, click here: https://midwayvillagemuseumcollections.wordpress.com/tag/military/

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