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In the fall of 1941, the Philippines was a gardenia-scented paradise for the American Army and Navy nurses stationed there. War was a distant rumor, life a routine of easy shifts and dinners under the stars. On December 8 all that changed, as Japanese bombs began raining down on American bases in Luzon, and this paradise became a fiery hell. Caught in the raging battle, the nurses set up field hospitals in the jungles of Bataan and the tunnels of Corregidor, where they tended to the most devastating injuries of war, and suffered the terrors of shells and shrapnel.
But the worst was yet to come. After Bataan and Corregidor fell, the nurses were herded into internment camps where they would endure three years of fear, brutality, and starvation. Once liberated, they returned to an America that at first celebrated them, but later refused to honor their leaders with the medals they clearly deserved. Here, in letters, diaries, and riveting firsthand accounts, is the story of what really happened during those dark days, woven together in a deeply affecting saga of women in war.
Praise for We Band of Angels
“Gripping . . . a war story in which the main characters never kill one of the enemy, or even shoot at him, but are nevertheless heroes . . . Americans today should thank God we had such women.”—Stephen E. Ambrose
“Remarkable and uplifting.”—USA Today
“[Elizabeth M. Norman] brings a quiet, scholarly voice to this narrative. . . . In just a little over six months these women had turned from plucky young girls on a mild adventure to authentic heroes. . . . Every page of this history is fascinating.”—Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“Riveting . . . poignant and powerful.”—The Dallas Morning News
Winner of the Lavinia Dock Award for historical scholarship, the American Academy of Nursing National Media Award, and the Agnes Dillon Randolph Award