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								Description: Photograph of American military nurse Helen Fairchild (1885-1918)
08 MAY

7 Greatest Nurses in American History - Helen Fairchild

(Continuing with our 7 of the greatest Nurses in American History, check the part 3 here:

Helen Fairchild - Brave Hero and US Army Reserve Nurse


Source: Description: Photograph of American military nurse Helen Fairchild (1885-1918)
Description: Photograph of American military nurse Helen Fairchild (1885-1918)

The early years

Helen Fairchild, born in Milton Pennsylvania November 21st, 1884, was a nurse who was part of the American expodentuary force during the First World War. She became well known for writing letters exposing the reality of nursing efforts during this war. Graduating from Pennsylvania hospital in 1913, she came from a wealthy family who owned a banking business and farmland. She and her six siblings grew up working on their family farm which prepared her for the rough exposure of the First World War.

Working as an Army Nurse

In April of 1917, Helen and sixty-three other nurses from Pennsylvania volunteered to go work oversea. According to her letters, the nurses were welcomed and entertained in England before continuing their journey onward to France. This is where they were in charge of a two thousand bed hospital, which later changed its name to American Base Hospital No. 10, located in Le Treport France. Her assigned unit was the surgical floor where she assisted in care with three other doctors. She volunteered to serve at the Front and traveled with a nursing team at the end of July to the rear area of the Ypres Salient battlefield and Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) No. 4 at Dozinghem. At that time the Third Battle of Ypres was launched and many casualties were being dealt with by this CCS. Conditions were extreme.

While Helen was at Dozinghem the CCS was attacked on the night of 17th August by aerial bombing from German aircraft. The nursing staff and patients had to be evacuated and Helen traveled back to the base hospital at Le Treport.

An Act of Bravery

In November 1917 Helen became seriously ill after suffering from tonsillitis. She recovered from tonsillitis but she died on 18th January in the No. 3 British General Hospital of a Gastroenterostomy operation. She was 33 years old. She had suffered from a large stomach ulcer which was considered to have been caused, or if not caused made worse, by exposure to the Mustard gas. It is believed that on the night of the bombing at the CCS she had given her gas mask to a soldier and thereby exposed herself to gas.Helen's letters to home provided her family with a perspective on nursing in the First World War.

(Information cited from:


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