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All This Hell

All This Hell: U.S. Nurses Imprisoned by the Japanese

Evelyn M. Monahan
Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    All This Hell
    Book Description:

    ""Even though women were not supposed to be on the front lines, on the front lines we were. Women were not supposed to be interned either, but it happened to us. People should know what we endured. People should know what we can endure."" -- Lt. Col. Madeline Ullom More than one hundred U.S. Army and Navy nurses were stationed in Guam and the Philippines at the beginning of World War II. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, five navy nurses on Guam became the first American military women of World War II to be taken prisoner by the Japanese. More than seventy army nurses survived five months of combat conditions in the jungles of Bataan and Corregidor before being captured, only to endure more than three years in prison camps. When freedom came, the U.S. military ordered the nurses to sign agreements with the government not to discuss their horrific experiences. Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee have conducted numerous interviews with survivors and scoured archives for letters, diaries, and journals to uncover the heroism and sacrifices of these brave women.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2744-6
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Pacific Paradise
    (pp. 1-15)

    Through the 1930s and until the last month of 1941, American army nurses waited on a long list of volunteers for assignments to the Philippine Islands. For navy nurses it was the “luck of the draw” that brought them to the Pacific paradise, where short duty hours allowed them to spend bright tropical days swimming and playing golf. News from nurses who had completed their two-year tour and returned to the United States resulted in a seemingly endless supply of military nurses hoping to serve in the storybook culture of the tropics.

    Long years of the Depression in the United...

  5. 2 Paradise Lost
    (pp. 16-28)

    Military nurses in the Philippines awakened to news that would change the world forever. Radios announced the attack to those preparing to go on duty, and word-of-mouth traveled like a tidal wave, breaking the news that would stun and engulf everyone it touched.

    It was Monday, 8 December, in the Philippines, but across the international date line on Hawaii, it was Sunday, 7 December 1941, the date that would live in infamy. At 0755 Hawaii time, naval and air forces of the empire of Japan attacked the military forces of the United States at Pearl Harbor and sank or damaged...

  6. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  7. 3 Descent into Hell
    (pp. 29-37)

    On 23 December at approximately 1800, General MacArthur left Manila and moved his headquarters to the rock fortress of Corregidor, at the mouth of Manila Bay. Less than an hour before, MacArthur had decided that to prevent the destruction of Manila, he would declare it an “open city.” A member of MacArthur’s staff telephoned Gen. Jonathan Wainwright and told him that War Plan Orange 3 was in effect. American and Filipino forces would make the desperate retreat to Bataan, planned more than a decade earlier.

    Army and navy nurses were among the last to learn the news. Lt. Hattie Brantley...

  8. 4 The Other Alamo
    (pp. 38-60)

    One late afternoon during the hottest December in the history of Bataan, twelve Pambusco buses discharged their passengers and the nurses and medical personnel got their first look at the Limay beach area. The compound consisted of twenty one-story wooden barracks with palm-thatched roofs and open, glass-free windows with lightweight palm closings that could be raised or lowered like shades. One corrugated tin warehouse stood in contrast to the long, narrow, framed barracks. These buildings, deserted and virtually empty, had once served as Camp Limay, a training facility for Filipino Scouts.

    The nurses claimed one of these barracks for their...

  9. 5 From the Frying Pan into the Fire
    (pp. 61-66)

    Hunger, disease, and combat had been taking their toll on American and Filipino troops for months. More than eight thousand sick and wounded patients covered the ground under jungle trees at Hospital No.2 and Little Baguio. Medical personnel and troops were just about out of medicines, bandages, food, ammunition, and able-bodied men—in fact they were just about out of everything except wounded and sick soldiers. When General King decided to surrender Bataan as of 9 April, he ordered the evacuation of nurses and many troops to Corregidor, where they would make their last stand.

    The two field hospitals on...

  10. 6 The Tunnel and the Rock
    (pp. 67-97)

    The second group of nurses arrived on Corregidor in daylight and in the midst of an air raid. The once beautiful green sloping lawns and trees of the tiny island had been transformed by Japanese bombs into charred stumps and denuded gray rock. In the coming weeks, enemy planes and artillery shells would pound away at the Rock, trying to dislodge its defenders and destroy the relative safety of the tunnel.

    Malinta Tunnel was sunk deep into the rock that was Corregidor. Its main shaft ran east and west for 750 feet, and its center lay under more than 100...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. 7 The City of Hell
    (pp. 98-111)

    When the Japanese ship carrying the wounded soldiers and the army nurses arrived in Manila, the nurses were assured again that the wounded would be taken to a hospital on the outskirts of the city where they could care for them. The hospital, they were told, was set up in a schoolhouse and was already equipped with beds and medicines. The anxious nurses felt relieved as they watched their patients being off-loaded and placed into trucks that carried them in the direction of Paranaque, where their captors said the school was located.

    Finally, the army nurses were disembarked and placed...

  13. 8 Life along the River Styx
    (pp. 112-124)

    The new year brought word from the commandant that a small quantity of medical supplies had become available and could be delivered to Santo Tomas for a specified price. The Executive Committee immediately put plans into motion to borrow the money needed to purchase the supplies that, until the Japanese had confiscated them, were a gift from the American Red Cross.

    Medical supplies were always scarce in Santo Tomas. The Japanese provided none when the camp opened. Along with food for the first six months of the camp’s existence, medicines and supplies were left to the devices of the internees...

  14. 9 Hunger in the Heart of Hell
    (pp. 125-153)

    The new year would bring drastic changes in the lives of those interned in Santo Tomas. On 10 January 1944, the commandant informed the Executive Committee that as of 6 January, Santo Tomas was under the direct authority of the War Prisoner Department commanded by General Morimoto. The Japanese military was now in charge of the internment camps in and around Manila. Radical changes took place in Santo Tomas after 1 February. Filipino doctors were no longer permitted to work in camp, and all internees housed in Sulfur Springs, Holy Ghost, and other hospitals or “special camps for the elderly”...

  15. 10 Liberation
    (pp. 154-169)

    During the day on 3 February 1945, there were sounds of explosions and intermittent gunfire in and around Manila. The sky was filled with smoke that rose from fires south and east of Santo Tomas. Inside the camp the Japanese were hurriedly packing or burning whatever records they had not previously destroyed. Nurses were going about their assigned duties and daily routine when Lt. Minnie Breese glanced up and saw the sky black with American planes. “I knew they weren’t Japanese. They had a different sound.... We had a bet going on. Who was going to make it first. The...

  16. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  17. 11 Home at Last
    (pp. 170-178)

    The world had changed in many ways during the more than thirty-seven months the nurses had spent in a war zone and as prisoners of war of the Japanese. They learned how close they had come to being killed by their captors. The liberation of Santo Tomas seemed even more miraculous when the nurses learned that the Japanese had planned to kill all the inhabitants of the camp. General MacArthur’s orders to the First Cavalry and the Forty-fourth Tank Division to fight their way straight to Santo Tomas more than likely saved the lives of the POWs. Lt. Minnie Breese...

  18. Appendix A A Tribute to Major Maude C. Davison, ANC
    (pp. 179-180)
    Madeline M. Ullom
  19. Appendix B Pre-World War II Duty Stations of U.S. Navy Nurses Held as POWs by the Japanese
    (pp. 181-181)
  20. Appendix C Military Nurses Who Were Not Reassigned following the Japanese Attack on the Philippines
    (pp. 182-182)
  21. Appendix D Evacuation of U.S. Military Nurses from Manila, December 1941
    (pp. 183-185)
  22. Appendix E Evacuees from the Philippines to Australia
    (pp. 186-189)
  23. Appendix F POW Army Nurses by Year of Birth (YOB), Age, Height, Weight at Captivity (WAC), Weight at Liberation (WAL), and Weight Loss
    (pp. 190-192)
  24. Appendix G POW Military Nurses by Year of Birth (YOB), Military Branch, Entered on Duty (EOD), Release Active Duty (RAD), Length of Service (LOS), and Highest Rank Attained
    (pp. 193-195)
  25. Appendix H Military Grades during World War II
    (pp. 196-196)
  26. Notes
    (pp. 197-209)
  27. Bibliography
    (pp. 210-216)
  28. Index
    (pp. 217-229)