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The War Continues for Nurse Jenny
Beginning of Book Two, Chapter One
This is a fictional account. I wanted to add some illustrations this time but that didn’t work out. This first chapter is mostly scene setting.
It was near the end of July, 1942 and the newspapers in Hawaii were full of news of the war. The Japanese, after a string of victories in Indochina, Guam, Wake Island, Singapore, and the Philippines, were finally feeling the sting of bringing the United States into the war. The Doolittle raid on their homeland had shaken Japanese leaders. The naval battle in the Coral Sea had basically ended in a draw or maybe a Japanese advantage but it did thwart the Japanese attack plans on Port Moresby. Now the Americans were starting to take the fight to the Japanese after the decisive victory at Midway, where four of Japan’s ten heavy carriers were lost.
The first group of islands the Americans tried to take were the Solomon Islands. They are a small group of islands in the South Pacific about 1,000 miles to the northeast of Australia. While General MacArthur did his best to stop the Japanese on Papua New Guinea, a second force under the leadership of Admiral Chester Nimitz began to plan an attack on the Japanese controlled islands in The Solomons.
The plan was for both MacArthur and Nimitz to gain control of Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, and to capture the Japanese stronghold there. The Japanese were using Rabaul as a major base from which to attack Allied shipping and also to supply other Japanese held islands in the region. To take Rabaul, they would first have to take back The Solomon Islands recently lost to the Japanese.
The newspapers told of the Japanese attacks on New Guinea being repelled by the Allied Forces, chiefly made up of Australians. They had counterattacked the Japanese and pushed them back in difficult mountain and jungle fighting. MacArthur then used a brilliant series of combinations of naval, air, and land forces to attack and push the Japanese back in many of the northern areas of New Guinea. With the new jungle fighting, the Allies had to worry not only about casualties and wounded but about malaria and other diseases. Bites from snakes and scorpions were a real threat too. Many soldiers were being wounded but many were also falling victim to the horrible conditions in which they had to fight.
While the war raged, the last two weeks had seemed like heaven for the nurses from Midway as they enjoyed the sights and free time they were given in Hawaii between assignments. Their days were filled with beach time and their nights enjoying the bars, movie theaters, and the parties in and around the base. The beautiful weather and wonderful scenery provided the perfect setting for a wonderful couple of weeks of rest and relaxation. In many of the nurse’s opinions it didn’t hurt either that the whole island was covered with men in uniform.
Dorrie and Vivian had kept up their wild ways by partying with the sailors and marines almost every night. Bea, May, and Jenny had kept more to themselves. They had danced at the bars but held their sexual activities in check, much to the chagrine of the many men they accepted dances with at the clubs and bars. They all got a good kick out of it when Viv had to be treated by Charlotte’s boyfriend, Doctor Sanford, for a case of venereal disease.
The nurses waited anxiously to learn of their next assignment. Other than Viv, they all hoped for safe duty back in the States or some low risk war area. They constantly pestered Charlotte for any news, even as they enjoyed themselves. Everyone hoped their days on Hawaii would continue but all knew that wouldn’t last much longer.
On exactly the fifteenth day of their R & R, Charlotte called them all together with news. They were being reassigned to a Task Force Naval Battle Group being formed and sent to an island in the Solomons. No further word was given for secrecy but they were to report for duty on a hospital ship as part of the task force. It would depart Pearl in two days. Afterward they all scrambled to find the Solomon Islands on a map. Bea and Dorrie thought surely such little islands couldn’t hold much significance until Viv astutely pointed out the size of Midway to them.
As the women packed, the mail arrived. Jenny hit the jackpot, or so the other nurses pointed out as she had four letters to most everyone else’s one or two. May did get one from Ben besides one from home. The girls stopped packing and each sat silently reading their letters.
Jenny had one from home and one from her brother. She read those first. The letter from home was mostly about the funeral for her boyfriend Gary, which her parents attended. The letter brought tears to her eyes to the point that the others asked what was wrong. She told them and they understood. It was getting to be that many people knew someone killed in the war. If they didn’t, they at least had someone in the military and probably in harms way, so they understood.
The letter from güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri her brother was almost as bad. It spoke of the horrors of war and seeing many dead soldiers and bombed out towns and villages. He was too close to the frontlines for Jenny’s liking and she prayed he would be safe. She wasn’t sure she could handle losing another person so close to her. He told of being in England and the bombings. Also about the unbelievable fortitude of the British people.
The next two letters were the ones that made the others jealous. Jerry Johnson and Brad West had both written to her upon returning state-side. Jenny read Jerry’s letter first. He was recovering nicely. The scars on his face were healing and beginning to clear up. His eyesight was improving too. He could make out more than just blurred shapes now. He could almost tell people apart and the doctors were optimistic he would continue to improve. His fingers were all better except the two on his left hand. Both of those had permanent skin damage and lost mobility but they did not have to be removed, which Jerry was thankful for. His letter was full of questions about where she was. Was she still in Pearl or had they been reassigned. At the end, he talked of missing her badly. He hoped they would be able to see each other soon back in Nebraska.
The remaining letter was from Brad West. It told of his recovery, rehab, and fitting for artificial limbs. His parents had money and he was receiving the best care both the military and civilian doctors could provide. It didn’t seem to help his depression though and the rest of the letter was about missing her. He practically begged Jenny to come see him as soon as possible. He offered to pay whatever costs she would incur.
Jenny set the letters aside feeling melancholy after reading them all. It seemed to her that most of the news these days was all about the war. Everything was death and killing, and family, friends, and lovers all separated from each other and missing them. She looked depressed as the others talked about their letters.
“Why the long face, Jenny? You got more letters than any of us and probably have two beaus waiting for you to return. The rest of us are lucky to have one,” Viv said.
“Leave her alone, Viv. She lost her old boyfriend, remember,” Bea proclaimed.
“Yeah, why are you looking so depressed now?” Dorrie questioned. “I thought you just read the two from Jerry and Brad.”
“I did. Jerry’s was great and upbeat but Brad’s was concerning. He is really depressed and wants me to come see him right away,” Jenny said, fighting back a tear.
“Well, that’s not going to happen,” Bea offered. “We need to pack tomorrow for our reassignment.”
“Yeah, I know,” Jenny agreed sadly.
“He’ll be okay till you can get to see him,” May said, trying to reassure her. “Send him a nice letter. That’ll make him feel better.”
“Who do you really like anyway?” Bea asked. “If you went back today would you want to see Jerry first or Brad?”
“I don’t know,” Jenny stated. “That is part of the problem.”
“You are confused, girl,” Dorrie added.
“I know,” Jenny agreed.
“Tough problem to have,” Viv claimed. “Too many men want her. Look, Jenny, by the time your tour is up you’ll probably meet ten more guys that will fall in love with you. Look at you, girl. You have that affect on these poor slobs. Don’t be a sucker for each one of them. It’ll drive you crazy.”
“Viv’s right, Jenny. You’ll probably meet someone else before we’re through. It’s the business we’re in. They give us the sick and wounded to care for. Naturally we’re going to feel sorry for them all. You need to realize we can’t please everyone,” Dorrie avowed.
“I know,” Jenny said. “But it’s just that…”
“Hey, Brad and Jerry were special to her. She didn’t go for them all,” Bea defended her.
“We’re just saying, this war is far from over,” Dorrie stated.
“We all know that,” May agreed.
The conversation turned to more pressing concerns of packing and preparations. Each of the women wanted to get their hair and nails done before they shipped out. Time was short and they needed to do a lot before they debarked.
The following day was nothing but errands for each one. Letters were written and mailed. Hair and last minute purchases of clothes and other sundries was another priority for most. There was no time for relaxation as they prepared to go. Viv was out of commission with her VD anyway. Dorrie usually followed Viv’s lead as the aggressor, so she hung back too with Viv sidelined.
Jenny was walking back from the base post office to the dorm when she spotted Viv alone outside smoking a cigarette. None of the girls had smoked when they first got to basic but now Viv and Dorrie definitely and even Bea occasionally all smoked. Jenny noticed Viv’s concerned face as she approached.
“Hey, Viv. You look worried. Maybe you should quit that smoking,” Jenny said, with a smile trying to cheer her friend.
“Smoking güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri is the least of my concerns,” Viv stated. “Jenny, can I tell you something?”
“Well, not even Dorrie knows this but I’m part Gypsy. At least that is what my mother told me when I was little. My aunt even thought I had the gift,” Viv explained.
“I see things sometimes. Things that are going to happen.”
“That’s not possible…”
“I told my aunt last April that we were going to have a lousy Christmas,” Viv said.
“Well, you may just have thought that for some other … “
“When I was ten I could tell my dad was dying before the doctors. He died that year,” Viv confessed.
“That may be just a coincidence … “
“Jenny, I have to tell you something but you must keep it between us.”
“The rest aren’t as strong as you and me. Sure Dorrie puts up a good front but other than liking to suck guys’ dicks, she is a wimp at heart. May too. Bea is stronger, but even she has her moments. You are the only one I can confide in,” Viv stated.
“Me! Why would you think I’m stronger than … “
“You are. You may not realize it but you are. You have internal strength these others lack,” Viv claimed.
“I don’t know, Viv. Bea is pretty … “
“Will you keep a secret or not?”
“Well, sure. If you want me to.”
“Jenny, I’ve had a premonition that at least one of us will not survive this war,” Viv stated emphatically.
“Viv! You can’t be serious! Don’t say that or even think … “
“It’s true! I feel it as sure as I’ve ever felt anything, Jenny.”
“Oh, my god! That can’t be … “
“It is! I know it.”
“One of us five? You sure?”
“Well, it might include Charlotte but yes, I’m sure,” Viv concluded.
“That just can’t be, Viv. How could we … “
“I don’t know how or why yet but I can tell you it’s true.”
“Oh, that’s terrible.”
“I know. That is why you can’t tell anyone else.”
“Why did you tell me this?”
“I had to tell someone. It’s been eating me up inside for days now,” Viv explained.
“Oh, my god. You sure it wasn’t something else. Maybe a sickness … “
“No! One of us is going to die,” Viv proclaimed.
“Oh, geez,” Jenny said, trembling from the image now cast before her.
“Please keep your promise and don’t tell the others,” Viv demanded.
“I will,” Jenny agreed, unsure if she had the strength like Viv thought to deal with this.
Jenny was so disturbed by the news, May picked up on it, and asked her what was wrong as they packed together. Jenny somewhat lied and said it had to do with Brad again.
The next day they loaded in a waiting truck with all their gear and drove to the docks to meet Charlotte. The whole island seemed to be in the same state of packing and departing. Signs of preparations for the sailing of the task force could be seen everywhere. Truckloads of sailors and marines drove past on their way to ships of their own.
At the docks, huge naval ships of all kinds could be seen making preparations to leave. Several aircraft carriers were taking on supplies and planes were being loaded onto their flight decks and into their lower hangar decks. The girls watched from the back of the truck the dizzying madness of work as the task force assembled to leave. They sped along the docks past many ships until the truck finally came to a halt next to a white ship with a red cross on the side. One of the drivers appeared at the back.
“Out here, ladies,” he said smiling at them.
“This is it, huh,” Viv said, departing the back of the truck.
“It sure is. Your home for a few weeks anyway,” the driver added. He helped them unload their stuff as did the other sailor.
Two sailors approached from the gangplank and grabbed as much gear as they could carrier. “This way, ladies,” one said.
They all grabbed things until all were accounted for. They followed the sailors to the gangplank and up. Jenny noticed Charlotte waiting for them at the top.
“Morning, nurses,” Charlotte yelled as they approached. “Welcome abroad M3.”
They all exchanged greetings and Charlotte led them below to their quarters. She showed them to their bunks and then to the operating rooms, patient care rooms, and the like. Jenny and the others were not accustomed to the cramped quarters. Everything they needed was there but in so much less space than normal. Unlike Midway, they would all be in the same room on this ship.
Charlotte left them to unpack but with orders to meet topside by the forward helicopter pad in thirty minutes. The women hurried to stow their gear. The room was tight but somehow they managed to stow all their gear. In exactly thirty minutes they were on deck.
Charlotte approached with Doctor Sanford. They exchanged greetings and Doctor Sanford explained the various procedures and protocols that would be needed on board. He was deep into his discussion when güvenilir bahis şirketleri the nurses noticed a smartly uniformed man who was obviously the captain of the ship approach. Doctor Sanford stopped talking when the captain reached them but told them they would resume the briefing later. He then deferred to the captain.
“Well, ladies. Welcome abroad M3. I am Captain John C. Marshall. I trust your stay with us will be more than you bargained for. All I ask is that you do your duty. Pay strict adherence to regulations and follow orders. Doctor Sanford is your team leader and Nurse Charlotte is your head nurse. Two other teams of nurses like yourself will be arriving shortly. They are newer recruits with less experience than you from Midway. Ensign Moore has convinced Doctor Sanford and me to give you five the day shift. We expect that may be our busiest time. I would encourage you to help teach the other recruits from your experience. My door is always open to anyone but I expect you to respect the chain of command. Do you all understand?”
“Yes, sir,” the nurses all said in unison.
“Very well. Carry on,” the Captain said and departed with Doctor Sanford.
“Wow, Charlotte,” Bea whispered under her breath as the two men walked away.
“Things are by the book around here, ladies,” Charlotte said, with a particular eye to Viv and Dorrie. “This is not a picnic ship and quite different from Midway. I expect you all to be on your best behavior here. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” they all responded.
“Good. When we are in mixed company please call me Ensign Moore – regulations and all ya’all know,” Charlotte stated, with her North Carolina accent showing.
“Now, ya’all are trained and ready for this but don’t expect things to be easier around here than Midway. Not likely,” Charlotte added. “In fact, I get the distinct indication we are in for some tough action. So be ready to react. I’ll be looking for volunteers to join me and two of the other ensigns as surgical nurses. We will help train you on board.”
“Do we know where we are headed, Ma’am?” Bea asked.
“Well, not much more than I already told you. We set sail tonight after most of the other ships depart. We are headed for the Solomons like I clued you but I still don’t know where exactly. I may never know until we are there.”
“Are we headed somewhere dangerous?” May asked.
“May, look around you. They’re not assembling this armada to go turkey shooting,” Charlotte stated.
“Oh, my,” May groaned.
The others also took in a deep breath. Jenny and Viv exchanged glances.
“I want you all to go below and prepare all the work rooms for operation. I will join you later and I want to see us ready for full scale operations. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” they echoed.
“Okay, then. Dismissed,” Charlotte said and departed.
“I’m scared,” May offered, as they stood there briefly shocked.
The loading of supplies continued all around them. In the distance they could see a few submarines already departing. The whole scene was one of blistering activity and preparations. They started walking back to their stations.
“I think we’re all a bit nervous,” Dorrie said, trying to reassure May.
“They expect us to train other nurses. We’re barely out of basic ourselves,” Bea claimed.
“I guess these nurses are coming direct from basic,” Viv added.
“They’re in for a shock I think,” Dorrie continued.
“Anyone going to volunteer for surgical duty?” Viv asked.
“Not me,” May proclaimed.
“If they don’t get any volunteers, they’ll pick someone,” Viv remarked.
“What about you, Jenny? You’re awful quiet,” Dorrie observed.
“Just thinking about all we just heard,” Jenny replied.
They headed below to get started. One of the orderlies named Jeff showed them to the storage room. They had several orderlies help them with boxes of bandages, instruments, and other medical supplies. They spent several hours making sure everything was stowed and prepared for the first day. Another nurse named Ensign Margaret Walker helped them prepare the operating room by telling them what the needed supplies were. She was Charlotte’s counterpart and would handle second shift duties. Her team of nurses was due in from San Diego. They had landed and were due to the ship within an hour.
They had just finished when Charlotte arrived. Ensign Margaret greeted Charlotte but left to meet her group of arriving nurses. Charlotte toured what they had done and was pleased with the work they had finished. She had not expected them to do the operating room but was glad Margaret was there to guide them. They talked briefly on procedures and other practices but decided to finish the discussions over lunch in the mess hall.
“The food is great on board,” Charlotte said, as they sat with their filled plates. “It’s even better than the mess at Midway.”
“So, Charlotte, tell us. How is the good doctor?” Viv asked, with a smile.
“He’s well, Viv. Thanks for asking,” Charlotte said, with a wink to Viv.
“Jenny got letters from both Jerry and Brad,” Dorrie told Charlotte.
“So, Jenny, both guys want to propose yet,” Charlotte said, joking with Jenny.
“They probably would if she gave them half an opening,” Bea claimed and laughed.
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