I’m sure many remember my posts of a few weeks back about about Dr. Robert D. Schrock and the physicians and staff of Base Hospital No. 9. The men drilled for several weeks time at Governors Island through a brutal heatwave in July-August 1917. As far as basic training goes, they got off easily; it could have been much longer. There was just no time to waste in getting this medical contingent to Europe however. They were that needed and time was of the essence. Plus military authorities figured that hospital staff could train aboard the transport ship, honing the skills they would need in the hospitals tending the wounded.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the doctors, nurses and corpsmen setting off. The doctors left Governors Island at about 4:00 am on 7 August 1917. Their ferry crossed the harbor and picked up the nurses at Ellis Island before cruising into the North (Hudson) River. There, the Finland was docked at Pier 11. The New York and New Jersey docks were filled with spies, and authorities did all they could to keep the departure as secret as possible. There is no mention of it in either the New York Times or the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It was an uneventful day but represented over a year’s worth of work on the part of New York Hospital, getting permission, raising the funds, and choosing who would go to Europe. The Finland sailed in the early afternoon, made quarantine, and was off in the Atlantic to face any potential u-boats on the way to France.
(images/Base Hospital No. 9, A.E.F.)