Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Iowa Nurse Tells of Life
Army's DP Transports
By Naomi Doebel.
An Iowa girl who probably has more first-hand knowledge of Europe's displaced persons than Iowa's committee on resettlement and all its helper* has been visiting in Watkins.
She is Lt. Bertha Miller, army nurse corps, who, after a brief stop with her mother, Mrs. Anna Miller, left Wednesday for New York. There she reports for ship duty, looking for orders to Australia via Suez.
Lt. Miller, so slim that she seems frail, has a war record that is breathtaking-seven battle stars (unusual even for soldiers and almost fantastic for a woman), and among other decorations two unit citations and the Legion of Merit.
That in itself is plenty, but from April until November, 1^47, she was the only army nurse aboard one of the army ships carrying displaced persons (D.P.'s) from Europe to new homelands in South America and in Canada.
Reports to the Iowa committee on resettlement indicated that this state and its urban areas has room for 8,000 displaced persons.
"Nothing but Hope." Each ship on which Lt. Miller I served carried 870 DP's-whole families, their earthly possessions | tied up in a ragged piece of cloth. A very few had broken traveling bags. They had no money . . . nothing but hope.
They were very happy to be leaving the Old World. Most were Polish, Latvians, Austrians and Hungarians. They didn't want to return to their homes in Russian occupied zones, because, for the men, it would mean slave-labor camps.
Latvian nurses, themselves DP's hoping to some day be admitted to the United States or Canada, were assigned to the ship as
salaries, the Latvian nurses went on a shopping spree.
Ship's officers helped by furnishing a car for transportation. Every girl bought a dress, economically, but a dress, not a uniform. They also purchased shoes and hosiery.
Nursing care for the DP's was something of a problem, Lt. Miller admitted. Long undernourished and with resistance undermined, the refugees caught cold easily and a few epidemics broke out among the children.
Babies weren't used to rich milk common to babies of the United States. Their formulas had ro have canned milk thinned down.
It was necessary to retrain the DP nurses for they did not know American medical practice. They had never seen penicillin of sulphadiozine. One of the nurses spoke a little English. Through her, the others were instructed, but from April through August most of them picked up a speaking* knowledge of English in classes conducted by the woman who was the ship's assistant escort officer.
Men selected for moving to new homelands were those having trades welcomed by the countries accepting them, said Lt. Miller. They were accompanied by their families.
Brazil took mostly farmers. On
permanent personnel. Each had arrival they were given a little one uniform issued by the relief (money to purchase needed sup-organization and very little in the plies and assigned to small plots way of undergarments.---'
As Lt. Miller was the only; nurse aboard, and small in comparison with the Latvian nurse she could do little aside
aring her extra shirts.
y personnel on ship came and rescue, donating their pants, which the Lativian nurses cut down for slacks. I The \e pair of stockings issued to each girl had to last until they
of land on which they cftrid have a chance to make a living and asked mostly for lumberjacks, and Venezuela preferred miners and laborers. Tailors, carpenters and other craftsmen needed were1 also in each of the groups.
Although the fighting is over, waters are still mined, Lt. Miller said. Their DP ships, army C4's for general duty, picked up pilots at Dover to take them through the English channel, and German pilots took over at Bremer-haven.
Questioned about the army's drive for more nurses, Lt. Miller recommended the service, pointing out that the pay is as good as for nurses in private life. In addition, the army nurse gets her maintenance and has the privilege of taking post graduate courses in many fields, among them pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery and anesthesia. The nurse who has been in the army can at present return with the same rank she had when discharged. If new to the service she goes in as a second lieutenant.
Early in the war Lt. Miller volunteered for overseas service, when such things were still on a volunteer basis. She was assigned to the Tenth field hospital, a small unit which operated with the Third division in Africa, Tunisia, Sicily and Italy. She was at Anzio, in southern France, northern France, southern Germany and northern Germany.
She was with the field hospital, moving every day as they followed the infantry, ready to take care of the worst injuries from the front lines. When conditions were worst they did surgery 24 hours a day. Close to the firing: line they were lucky i in having shells fall near the | field hospital only twice, both in Germany. Once, just before they moved up, the place they intended to go was blown up.
Since November, Lt. Miller has been on New York port duty.
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