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We Heard the Call: Our Doctors and Nurses in World War I: Base Hospital No 9

By Elizabeth Shepard on August 4, 2017 - 8:59am

In 1916, the American Red Cross prepared for US possible involvement in the war by organizing base hospitals.  The Red Cross identified several major medical centers or hospitals to organize these units.  The idea was that the doctors and nurses would already work well together.  Each medical center or hospital supplied the personnel, equipment, and supplies for their unit. Twenty two doctors, 2 dentists, 65 Red Cross nurses, 22 nurses’ aides, 153 enlisted men, 6 civilians, and chaplain staffed each base hospital for a two-year service.

The New York Hospital was assigned to Base Hospital No 9.  At this time, The New York Hospital and Cornell University Medical College were affiliated but were in separate locations.  The Board of Governors decided that the senior attendings and house staff could serve in World War I.  They wanted the associate level doctors to stay and operate the hospital.  Thirty-three doctors from the hospital or medical college and 69 nurses who were alumni from the hospital’s nursing school staffed this hospital.

One of the doctors was Robert Schrook, Sr, an alumni of the medical college, who had settled in Nebraska.  Here is an letter describing his time in New York waiting to be shipped out to France.

The Society of the New York Hospital

6 to 16 W. 16th and 7 223 W. 18th St.

New York New York

July 21, 1917

Dear Chet,

We go to Governors Island into camp at 8:30 AM. Just time for a note and breakfast. The gang looks good. You know practically everyone. Will send you details as I can. It is good, I tell you,  to be around here again.     Only, would exchange these trappings for white clothes for comfort.

Walked up Third Avenue yesterday, saluting all the Lord and Taylor delivery boys. Probably shall pass up many Majors,etc without proper recognition. Our ignorance is   amusing.

 It looks very much like we are to get away the coming week. Somewhere in   France.

Everyone asks of you and the family. Tell your young man it was not carelessness that kept me from seeing him at the station. He may not like it. Shall send him a later   message.

 Chet, don’t get panicky and jump into service. You have a greater duty right there. Thanks for the big help of Tuesday

 Ever Bob.

 R. D. Schrock MC.USR.

Base Hospital #9 New York City


Base Hospital No 9 was deployed on July 21, 1917.  In August, they sailed on the USS Finland to France (see photo).  On the way, the encountered German submarines, which fired at their boat.  By September, they took over old insane asylum buildings at Chateauroux, France for the hospital. 


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