The riveting personal account of a Michigan nurse's experiences in France, Germany, and Africa during the Second World War
In late 1942, along with so many others who signed up to support the war effort, thirty-year-old Mildred Radawiec left a comfortable position as a nurse at the University of Michigan Hospital and postponed her marriage to a soon-to-be doctor to volunteer as a surgical nurse in the major battle theaters of the war. Radawiec was one of thirty volunteers from the hospital surgical staff that comprised the University of Michigan Unit, the 298th General Hospital, as the University of Michigan Hospital was called.
Radawiec's first-person history recounts her wartime experience with sharp detail and grace and sets the stage for a you-are-there experience—from the thrill of signing up and shipping out; to the harrowing ocean crossing and the arduous trip through the Sahara; to dangerous air raids and moving at a moment's notice, often at night with the lights off to avoid attacks. Radawiec was near Omaha Beach in France soon after D-Day, June 6, 1944, and details stories of marathon stints assisting the injured on the front lines as they poured in by the hundreds. Radawiec also traveled to Belgium and Germany and set up in the area near Aachen in the fall of 1944. In Germany she experienced Buzz Bombs—pilotless flying bombs—and even witnessed the death of a fellow nurse in a bombing attack in which medics brought in wounded soldiers by the truckload. Radawiec also leavens her story with uplifting tales of heroism and courage and intersperses the narrative with poignant letters from her family and fiancé.
This stirring personal account of war will mesmerize anyone interested in World War II history and women's too-often-overlooked role in it.
Read: Review from The Ann Arbor News | 4.4.2009
Listen: Interview with Mildred MacGregor (MP3)